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MEXICO: Volunteer serves migrants in Tijuana

Young psychologist spends 3 months as Salesian missionary volunteer

MEXICO

(MissionNewswire) Salesian Tijuana Project has been committed to the most vulnerable people, especially migrants and refugees since 1987 in Tijuana, Mexico. The Salesian Center houses a refectory and other project activities and provides services to migrants and poor youth living on the border between Mexico and the United States.

Kristiñe Azpiazu is a young psychologist who spent three months as a Salesian missionary volunteer in Tijuana. Azpiazu, who was part of the Basque government volunteer program in Spain, became a Salesian volunteer through the Salesian Mission Office in Madrid.

Salesian Tijuana Project has youth centers, where cultural and sports activities are offered to children and older youth, both native to the city and migrants. In addition, there is a large Salesian Center that acts as a hub for migrants who, besides much-needed material help, are offered a familiar and welcoming environment. They can access haircuts, a change of clothes, a shower, and an opportunity to call and contact their families.

The Salesian Center also has a partnership with the Red Cross and local volunteer doctors who offer psychological and medical help. Nearly 1,500 are offered support through this center at any given time.

In her first weeks of service, Azpiazu was assigned to the San Juan Bosco Salesian Oratory which provides quality educational opportunities to youth from vulnerable families. Nearly 1,000 people access services each day. Later, Azpiazu spent time at the Padre Chava Salesian Refectory and Reception Center, an initiative that began 21 years ago to assist migrants and people living on the street.

The Padre Chava Salesian Refectory offers meals and a safe space for those reaching the border and within the community. Migrants and people who are homeless can access nutrition, safe shelter and human interaction. The welcoming environment helps people integrate into society and provides tools for personal and professional growth.

While spending time with both the refectory and the reception center, Azpiazu was able to use her professional skills as a psychologist to lend support. She found her experience invaluable. Azpiazu said, “I recommend everyone be informed and participate in this volunteer program. For me, it represented a before and after in my life. It has helped me to grow personally and to know a situation that otherwise I would never have known and felt as I feel it now.”

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Sources:

ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS) 

ANS – Mexico – Kristiñe’s volunteering experience in Mexico marked “a before and after in my life”

Salesian Missions – Mexico

UNICEF – Mexico