MEXICO: Salesian Padre Chava Refectory in Tijuana remains open to serve thousands of take-away meals to those in need
(MissionNewswire) The sudden spread of the COVID-19 in Mexico brought an unseen state of emergency to Tijuana. Salesian missionaries are assisting thousands of migrants and people at risk through the Salesian Padre Chava Refectory located at the Salesian Center in the city. The refectory provides meals and other assistance to migrants from Mexico, Central America and Haiti, as well as to homeless people, the elderly, people with disabilities and those suffering from extreme poverty.
Each day at the Padre Chava Refectory, 900 to 1,200 meals are served with numbers increasing during Christmas, Easter and summer. Recently, the numbers have been increasing due to the influx of migrants. Salesian missionaries are already serving their maximum number of 1,200 breakfasts and they are preparing to continue at that pace.
Because of the overwhelming need, the refectory cannot close. They have instead turned to take-away meals. In the first day, 500 food boxes were distributed. Over the next six days, 10,000 food boxes were provided. The coronavirus has multiplied the number of people in need of a hot meal. Salesians are now seeing new faces in need including the homeless, children, families, elderly, and migrants.
“Because, even if the possibility of contracting the virus is latent, hunger and needs, in these days of scarcity, are increasing,” explained Father Agustín Novoa, director of the Salesian Center in Tijuana.
Many workers have lost their jobs due to the closure of their workplace, and they have 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 has also left many asylum seekers stuck in Tijuana, and even though many have been deported, others keep arriving. Migrant shelters are not housing new asylum seekers to guarantee basic sanitary conditions for their residents.
Since 1987, the Salesian Center in Tijuana 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 families. The Salesian Center also has a partnership with the Red Cross and local volunteer doctors who offer psychological and medical help and assistance.
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Salesian Missions – Mexico
UNICEF – Mexico