MEXICO: Salesian Padre Chava Refectory serves more than 1,200 meals a day to those in need and impacted by coronavirus pandemic
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Tijuana, Mexico, are still responding to the influx of people needing food assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, while already stretched thin providing for those who need food assistance in the city. The Salesian Padre Chava Refectory, located at the Salesian Center in the city, provides meals and other assistance to migrants from Mexico, Central America and Haiti, as well as to the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and those suffering from extreme poverty.
Each day, the Padre Chava Refectory provides upwards of 1,200 meals with numbers increasing due to the pandemic. Because of the overwhelming need, the refectory never closed. They 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 has continued.
“Hunger and the needs of the people facing scarcity are increasing in the city, and we are responding the best that we can given the circumstances,” 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 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