Toys and clothes for children living in a small shelter left in the wake of now emptied Benito Juarez
Toys, clothes for children living in a small shelter left in the wake of now emptied Benito Juarez

Thanks to you and our many partners, SALEF was able to provide over $5,000 of food, supplies, medicine, and holiday presents to the Central American migrants sheltering in Tijuana, while they wait for their opportunity to seek asylum in the United States.

Our partners on this trip were Clinica Romero (providing health screenings), the Central American University Student Association (CAUSA), independent professionals including doctors and social workers, and the Consulate of El Salvador in Los Angeles.

This trip included a special focus on delivering holiday cheer to a group of unaccompanied minors – boys and girls aged 13 to 17 – who are spending Christmas far from their families at Casa YMCA, a shelter in Tijuana. Two young Honduran teens living at this shelter were recently killed (NPR radio report transcript), in a tragic testament to the vulnerability unaccompanied minors face as they wait, alone, to make their case for asylum.

On Friday, December 22nd, we hosted a Christmas party for the approximately 40 boys and girls at Casa YMCA. These at-risk youth traveled thousands of miles, many of them completely alone, from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Our team included two volunteer social workers and one SALEF staff social worker. We hope an evening of pizza, music, and holiday cheer allowed these children a brief escape from the stress and hardship they are facing each day in hope of finding safety and peace. To protect the privacy of these minors, we are not sharing videos or images of our time with them.

After our evening at the Casa YMCA, SALEF staff along with many partners and volunteers visited multiple shelters operating in the wake of the now empty mega-shelter Benito Juarez. Mexican authorities have now completely removed the former shelter inhabitants, re-painted the street, and given the area a face-lift. The only remaining indication of the Benito Juarez shelter is this small area pictured below. Various, off-the-cuff discussions revealed some migrants claim that the government forced people out with only what they could carry, throwing away any belongings left behind.


First we visited El Desayunador Padre Chava, where we delivered approximately $1,000 of food and supplies.


Below are video and images of another shelter we visited, located adjacent to the now-empty Benito Juarez shelter. Here you can see the rows of tents that serve as a temporary home for so many men, women and children.


As we delivered food, cooking supplies, and cleaning materials, migrants shared a meal. We packed their refrigerator with chicken and frozen vegetables and provided 80 lbs sacks of rice and beans.

The poster displays the following statement: “[From Our] Community Against Gangs and Violence: We ask forgiveness of the City of Tijuana, for our stay and for the disturbances caused by some migrants of the Caravan.”

Finally, we visited La Vina de Tijuana, where we delivered donated clothes and Christmas toys for the children of families sheltering there.

We are also grateful to our partners at Los Angles Council District 14 who provided a substantial donation of children’s toys.

Thank you to Dr. Romo, Clinica Romera, and Dr. Macklin for providing health screenings at Desayunador Padre Chava and Casa YMCA. Doctors administered medical care and provided medicine for ailments from pulmonary diseases to Hepatitis to broken bones.

Also traveling with us was a team from the Central American University Student Association (CAUSA) from Cal State University Northridge. They went to observe and note conditions at El Barretal, the new mega shelter in Tijuana. This team also delivered aid and donations to Enclave Caracol, LGBT safe space.

Other volunteers, from as far as Sacramento, Santa Cruz, and even Arizona joined our local Los Angeles volunteers to help. They included professors from Cal State Los Angeles and Northridge, who, along with others, provided translation services. The complex logistics and very hard work of this trip could not have been accomplished without them. We also couldn’t have done it without the many donations from private citizens.

Thanks to all of our supports and partners, we were able to bring so many essentials to our brothers and sisters seeking a better life including:

Toys for holiday presents

Warm clothes

Food, including beans, rice, meat, chicken, frozen vegetables, and cooking oil

Cleaning supplies including dishwashing liquid, all purpose cleaners, mops, and paper towels

Personal hygiene supplies, including soap, toothbrushes, and toilet paper

Social worker services

Medical services and supplies

To donate to SALEF via PayPal, click here. If you are interested in donating another way or in volunteering contact Briana Rodriguez: