Marisela Resendiz visited Casa del Migrante, a shelter in Tijuana that houses migrant families, in 2017 with other young adults from her church.
“…I was hesitant to go at first since I had never been away from my family… at the time,” Resendiz said. “When we arrived, I felt very welcomed and at home. CMT at the time housed men only and we were able to hear the stories. They shared their stories and experiences with us. Some were deported and were awaiting in Tijuana to earn enough money to travel back to their home states in Mexico where they had little to no family. Of these men some decided to find a job and live in Tijuana where they would still remain close to some families across the border. Being there opened my eyes to a reality that is not discussed in the media. Some of these people traveled thousands of miles to escape violence, poverty, and/or crime yet their stories are very often dehumanized. We were able to visit the border where we saw many of the crosses of those who had aspired to live in the free world.”
Resendiz, senior in social work, began working on this for her senior project but has always wanted to provide support for Casa del Migrante.
“I always knew I wanted to help them in some way when I left,” Resendiz said. “I have not been able to be back, but they are housing families now and with the pandemic they need even more resources.”
Resendiz returned from her visit with a new perspective.
“I left Tijuana a different person,” Resendiz said. “Ever since I was in high school, I have always participated in various community service activities but this one was different. My father was able to work in the United States with the amnesty in the 80s, so he too migrated to another country, leaving his whole family behind. My dad recalls not having money for an education so all that was left for him to do was work in the maize fields with my grandpa. I am very privileged to be citizen of this country, but many people are not as lucky as I am.”
Casa del Migrante provides food, clothing, medical attention, and a few other social services. The shelter runs on donations and they are currently in need of face masks, hand sanitizer, construction work shoes, undergarments for boys and girls, diapers, men’s jeans (32W-36W), and deodorant. Donations will be collected through Monday, Nov. 16. People can donate money, or they can purchase an item or items from an Amazon wish list that Resendiz set up.
“The impact that a donation has on someone who’s life has changed forever can be very helpful,” Resendiz said. “Many of these people arrive to CMT with no extra clothing, one pair of shoes, and no hygienic care products. They receive three meals a day and they are able to go through the clothing closet to get anything they might need for their stay or their journey ahead. From a toothbrush to a tomato, everything is donated. They also receive legal, medical, and emotional support. CMT becomes a safe place for them…”
Resendiz will mail all donations to a parish in Chula Vista, CA where they will be picked up by Father Pat Murphy who is in charge of Casa del Migrante. To mail the items, Resendiz is raising money through a GoFundMe (https://www.gofundme.com/manage/recaudacion-casa-del-migrante).
“Casa del Migrante also houses volunteers that help for an extended amount of time,” Resendiz said. “I was only there for a week but there… (were) volunteers that had been there for 3+ months and some had been there for over a year. Personally, I believe that one of the best ways to help is to be open to learn. Some of these people were faced with situations that are out of their hands but are stigmatized for being immigrants.”