ABBA House Supports Migrants’ Dignity in the Midst of a Dehumanizing Journey North
By Rebecca Eichler
If you turn left at the Celaya Home Depot and wind your way through the potholed, dusty streets lined with small tiendas, taquerias, and modest homes, you will find the sanctuary of Albergue ABBA. If you’re a migrant making your way north towards the oasis of safety you believe you will find in the US, you may hear about this place of refuge from another traveler in the network of migrant safe houses. Painted bright white and emblazoned with the logos of international aid organizations, what happens behind the dead-bolted gates of Albergue ABBA is the manifestation of grace.
The guard standing at the door may be an amputee; perhaps a Honduran who lost his foot when he fell from the cargo train he was riding, known as “La Bestia..” He is getting used to his new prosthesis, provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross under a unique partnership allowing amputees to reside at the shelter while rehabilitating.
Pastor Ignacio Martinez Ramirez and his psychologist daughter Abril—together with countless Mexican and foreign volunteers—minister to the physical, mental, and legal needs of the hundreds of people who seek shelter a ABBA each week. Each person is allowed a shower and to wash their clothes, eat hot food, and have a safe place to sleep for three nights; the minimum amount of time needed for a body to recover from the trauma of the hard travel he or she has undertaken.
Celaya is only the halfway point on the lonely and dangerous journey north. Additionally, the increasingly restrictive policies at the US border have turned asylum in the US into a mirage and causes more people to seek refuge at ABBA on their return journey south or while waiting to be granted asylum in México. The Latin American Relief Fund (LARF) raises money to pay rent and utilities at ABBA. To support these efforts, please visit www.latinamericanrelieffund.org or email email@example.com with your questions.