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MEXICO: Work with migrants receives praise from UNHCR

Salesian Tijuana Project creates educational network in areas where poor youth are at risk 


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

The goal of the Salesian Tijuana 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 also 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 has a partnership with the Red Cross and local volunteer doctors who offer psychological and medical help.

Salesians at the center have been working to strengthen ties of friendship and collaboration with other government organizations and United Nations agencies. On April 5, the Salesian Tijuana Project received an official thank you from Giovanni Lepri, representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Mexico.

The message of recognition reads: “The team of Proyecto Salesiano Tijuana (Salesian Tijuana Project) has always shown a great spirit of cooperation towards refugee persons and the actions carried out by UNHCR for their protection: in their assistance in the reception centers, in the defense of their rights and in the coordination of integration and coexistence activities (…) Proyecto Salesiano has played a key role in the care and support of refugee persons in the Mexican Commission of Aid to Refugees (COMAR) as well as in the work and operations of UNHCR in Tijuana.”

In response to this recognition, Father Agustín Novoa Leyy, director general of the Salesian Tijuana Project, said, “Our work on this frontier, guided by Pope Francis’ encyclical ‘Fratelli Tutti’, has been to welcome on a daily basis women, children and men arriving in Tijuana from the south of our country or in repatriated status under Title 42, and it entails a great humanitarian responsibility, which goes beyond providing shelter or a plate of food. It means welcoming them emotionally, guiding and supporting them in the situation that prompted them to leave their country of origin and come here. It means listening to them, soothing their grieving and broken hearts because of what they experienced in their country, but also because of the harshness of the journey, along with the xenophobic manifestations that we, unfortunately, encounter more and more often.”

Fr. Leyy added, “The fact that this task that we carry out with passion is perceived and appreciated by an agency of the United Nations encourages us to go forward, to continue to raise our voices and open our arms to welcome, to embrace with our souls our migrant and refugee brothers and sisters.”



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

ANS – Mexico – Official thanks from UN High Commissioner for Refugees to Proyecto Salesiano Tijuana

Salesian Missions – Mexico

UNICEF – Mexico