MEXICO: Center serving migrants awarded
Salesian Padre Chava Refectory receives award from the secretary of health of the Mexican State of Baja California
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Padre Chava Refectory, part of the Salesian Tijuana Project, recently received an award from Dr. José Adrián Medina Amarillas, the secretary of health of the Mexican State of Baja California, Mexico. The award is for the work the refectory does for the city’s most vulnerable people, especially migrants and refugees.
Since 1987, the Salesian Center in Tijuana, which houses the refectory and other project activities, has been providing services to migrants and poor youth living on the border between Mexico and the U.S. The goal of the Tijuana Salesian Project is to create an extensive educational network in areas where poor youth are at risk of social exclusion. The project took shape through Salesian oratories and educational centers where children grow up learning to share faith, culture, and sports within their communities.
The Salesian Center acts as a hub for migrants who, besides much-needed material help, are also offered a familiar and welcoming environment. They can access haircuts, a change of clothes, a shower, and an opportunity to call and make contact with their families. The Salesian Center also has a partnership with the Red Cross and local volunteer doctors who offer psychological and medical help.
The Padre Chava Refectory played a significant role during the COVID-19 pandemic even after it was forced to close its dining room. Each day, the Padre Chava Refectory provided upwards of 1,200 meals. Because of the overwhelming need, the refectory never closed, and it instead turned to take-away meals. In the first days of the lockdown, 500 food boxes were distributed. Over the first week, 10,000 food boxes were provided, and that pace continued.
Many workers lost their jobs due to the closure of their workplace, and they had to decide whether to pay the rent or buy food. Informal workers such as domestic workers were urged to stay home and remained unpaid. The closure of the U.S.-Mexican border also left many asylum seekers stuck in Tijuana, and even though many have been deported, others keep arriving. The Salesian Center was a refuge to many.
During the award event, there was a tour of the refectory and conversations with people who use the service. Salesians were able to highlight the great need for what they do while also humanizing the people who come through its doors.
Father Agustín Novoa Leyva, director of the Tijuana Project, accepted the award. He highlighted the right to health for all people, a right that is often denied to those who belong to the city’s most disadvantaged sectors, such as the elderly, those in poverty, those who have disabilities, and especially migrants.
Fr. Novoa said, “As a Salesian work, present on this frontier, which for us is a land of mission, we feel more and more committed every day to the cause of the defense of human rights, in a clearly evangelical perspective.”
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Salesian Missions – Mexico
UNICEF – Mexico