MEXICO: Migrant mothers and children receive services in new center
New Don Bosco Reception Center gives shelter to women with children in Tijuana
(MissionNewswire) The Don Bosco Reception Center, a new space dedicated to giving shelter to women with children, was launched in Tijuana, Mexico. The reception center was set up to help women at risk, especially migrants. Women can receive legal, psychological, medical and spiritual services.
Both Salesian missionaries and the authorities in charge of assisting migrants have noted an increase in the flow of migrant women into Tijuana. Salesians developed the new reception center in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNICEF.
According to Father Agustín Novoa, director of the Salesian Center in Tijuana, the reception center’s model promotes “social friendship” in which international agencies involved in the project, governmental entities and the host community all work together to support women.
The common interest of the institutions involved is to work together without competition to provide a safe space for women and their children, and to put the woman, her dignity and the defense of her rights at the center of attention. Fr. Novoa said, “This is a great challenge that involves getting out of our comfort zone, being open to dialogue, going out to meet others, learning to live with others and looking for our commonalities.”
This new reception center is one project among many launched by the Salesian Center in Tijuana, which since 1987 has been providing services to migrants and poor youth living on the border between Mexico and the U.S.
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 families. The Salesian Center also has a partnership with the Red Cross and local volunteer doctors who offer psychological and medical help and assistance.
Within the Salesian Center is the Padre Chava Refectory which provides meals and other assistance to migrants from Mexico, Central America and Haiti, as well as to the homeless, the elderly, people with disabilities and those suffering from extreme poverty. Staff members at the refectory also help migrants obtain or manage their official papers and play a very important role in caring for migrants stuck at the border. In addition, the Padre Chava Refectory acts as a hub for care packages, such as food and clothing, that have been sent as aid to those in Mexico.
Fr. Nova added, “We are known and appreciated for the service we offer in the community. We provide food, nutrition, medical and psychological services, and legal advice, and we also offer a hospitality service for men and now for women with this new center. We serve migrants, deportees, people in street situations, entire families and the elderly. For years we have seen many people suffer from the lack of opportunities, and during the pandemic, the population in difficulty has increased.”
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Salesian Missions – Mexico
UNICEF – Mexico