ABBA House, Sanctuary for Migrants and Families

$16,028 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 215 people in 10 months
I am a volunteer for ABBA House in Celaya , Mexico.  ABBA House provides humanitarian services for Central American immigrants fleeing the violence, danger, and poverty of their countries on their way to the United States.  Currently ABBA is serving almost 500 immigrants monthly.  They  provide 3 days of safe rest, medical attention, 3 daily healthy meals, hot showers, clean clothes,  and emotional support . ABBA is supported solely by donations and volunteer contributions. With the growing numbers, every part of the program needs increased assistance. 

Most of the immigrants arrive only with the clothes they are wearing.  Most have been assaulted and  robbed of backpacks, money, phones . They are vulnerable , stigmatized with virtually no rights and protections and are easy targets of predators .  They arrive at ABBA  physically and emotionally exhausted, psychologically  traumatized,   often ill and with injuries.  They are dealing with the grief of loss and change while trying to stay focused on their goals.  These are young,  brave . mostly  men who are  husbands and fathers seeking opportunity in the service of their families and future.

ABBA House has recently been designated by the International Red Cross as a treatment center for amputees who stay for evaluation, and prosthetic rehabilitation.  The stay for amputees is extended and determined by availability of Red Cross resources and scheduling.

The current demands are enormous and require on-going donations to support the physical, medical, and emotional  needs of the immigrant residents, daily food supplies, up-keep and maintenance of the 3 story building. 

An  area of simple but critical concern is providing shoes, socks and underwear. These are all items that need to be new and can't be re-cycled. I have found some good, reliable cheap sources but the on-going costs need to be shared.  Currently with the increasing stream of Migrants both hoping to reach the U.S. and those coming back because of the changes in policies restricting asylum, your donations will be critical in the day to day operation of ABBA .

I hope you will help to contribute to the support and on-going work of ABBA House.  No donation is too small or maybe even too large! 

Check out their Facebook page: ABBA House A.C. CCIAPM

Here is a recent article that describes the dangerous conditions in their country and the harrowing challenges of their journey.

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I went to ABBA yesterday alone and on the bus. Before leaving I texted Pastor Ignacio and asked what he needed . He texted back " beans and socks". I'm still getting used to this current and on-going concern about keeping just the basics in the pantry. The numbers have doubled and ABBA now has a more serious daily pressing need for food. I delivered $ 350 and planned to shop with him at the local Aurrera Bodega which is the Mexican Wallmart. He was unable to go because his wife Neli, also extremely dedicated to the lives at ABBA, had an emergency dental appointment. I know $350 isn't a lot but enough to supply rice and beans for several days. This is the stress of ABBA! Will there be enough, where will it come from, how to appeal to volunteer charity locally and beyond.

So I want to share 2 ideas I have: 1) appeal to places like Aurrera Bodega and ask for donations, and 2) Bistro ABBA. Bistro ABBA had it's initial launch 2 weeks ago. It's designed to create structured volunteer opportunities to the many who want to help ABBA, and provide a special sit-down restaurant style event for the residents. Volunteer teams of 4 will carpool to ABBA stopping to shop and share the groceries expenses. The purpose is to create a very healthy, large mid-day meal hopefully with leftovers. I see this developing organically but if we get enough volunteers we could provide maybe 1 or 2 lunches a week . Each team could commit to one meal a month. Last Wednesday, Mark , Tom and I prepared a very rich spaghetti bolognesa with salad, two obscene chocolate cakes with drinks, tablecloth and decorations. It was their first time at ABBA and we were a great team that was richly rewarded by our time there. I know we can do very nice meals for 3000 pesos or less.

Yesterday I got off the bus near Cotsco to scope out prices for the next planned Bistro ABBA, a grilled chicken picnic. I asked to speak to the manager and met Silvestre who described the donation program they offer, and he took our information. I hope this will lead to a pay-off and force me to get more practiced at scoping out corporate food donors.

It was another moving day at ABBA. All the residents were helping clean up after a fumigation. Teams in the kitchen cleaning cabinets, other teams sweeping, mopping floors and a group re-washing all the dishes, and kitchen contents. I had a new buddy, Carlito, who arrived a few days ago with his older brother and parents. More injured and assaulted residents who arrive with nothing but there injuries and hope. The Red Cross was there helping. Freddie, and Nelson and I went to buy fruit snacks and I heard about their detention experience. They were held in a locked area most of the time with lights on 24/7. They are determined to re-try in the future but now on their way to Monterrey to look for work.

Thanks to all of you for your support of ABBA. It's almost time to go to Parque Juarez for the Lights of Liberty.
Abrazo fuerte,
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A word of thanks from Pastor Ignacio, Director of ABBA House

Quiero agradecer a todos nuestros amigos y amigas por el apoyo que nos dan para poder seguir brindando una ayuda digna a nuestros hermanos migrantes, el brindarles el apoyo de unos tenis nuevos, mochilas nuevas, calzoncillos nuevos y calcetines nuevos es para nuestros hermanos de mucho apoyo... De parte de ABBA quiero dar nuestro profundo agradecimiento que nuestro buen Dios les colme de bendiciones.

I want to thank all our friends for your support that allows us to continue providing meaningful help to our migrant brothers and sisters, the support of new tennis shoes, new backpacks, underwear and socks is personal and meaningful. On behalf of ABBA, I want to deeply thank you and hope our good God will bless you richly .

This has been a busy week. We bought 45 pairs of jeans which are the third most needed item after shoes and backpacks. We had the opportunity to present the work of ABBA to a teen group from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship from Oak Ridge , Tennessee. They were here to learn about migrant issues. Their Fellowship is a sanctuary. They each brought a pair of shoes and they wrote and drew personal messages for the migrant recipients. I was impressed by their interest , good questions and commitment to migrant relief. ABBA thanked them with a presentation of Judy Jackson’s documentary , Walk With Us, that profiles Pastor Ignacio and his work with ABBA . Pastor Ignacio and his daughter Abril were gracious enough to come from Celaya , to describe the mission and answer questions.
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Getting ready to go for my weekly day at ABBA requires more and more preparation and double checking. I usually take the bus, so I have to organize my backpack carefully. I always carry about 6 packs of playing cards that make a great portable diversion, extra ping-pong balls to replace the lost and crushed ones, 10 copies of 3 different word search games called "sopa de letras" that everyone enjoys once they overcome their initial shyness, a big plastic container of lip balm for overexposed and hurting lips , and several boxes of medications for colds, coughs, pain relief, and stomach distress . If I'm not caring a sack of donated clothes and shoes, I can surprise ABBA residents with a new soccer or basketball. They get used up very quickly. Now I must include several boxes of crayons, copies of pages from coloring books, some small cans of playdough, and I'm ready to go.
We are providing services to more and more families with small children. It's important they have fun things to do and know they are valued. I recently met Fatima who is 9 and her mother Carmen. They are in the infirmary and in wheelchairs. They were hit by the same car and both were left with almost identical fractures in both legs. Pastor Ignacio contacted DIF
(Family and Children's Service) and they have a service provider 12 hours a day who has become a support to many at ABBA. They share a room with Digna who has been at ABBA for two months and just delivered a healthy baby boy, Jesus Antonio. Although she arrived alone, she and the baby are getting lots of attention. Henesy who is 4 just arrived with her parents, Charly and Avi . Her adjustment is stunning, she has lots of energy and loves to color and sing. They are on the way to Monterrey to find work for her father in construction. He is an optimistic man with an infectious smile and instant willingness to help. They were robbed of all their money and phone.
With more families and children, ABBA is even more of a family. Although everyone has their complicated and personal stories of loss, change, and unknown , ABBA creates an island of safety that nurtures respect, hope , possibility and resilience. I always leave ABBA without words.
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Dear Friends and Donors of ABBA House,

I changed the title of our GoFundMe Campaign last week to more accurately reflect the current needs of ABBA House. It is now ABBA House: Sanctuary for Migrants and Families. In the last weeks, the numbers have spiraled with more intact families with young children. The majority are still hoping to cross the border as Asylum Seekers looking for safety and the rewards of hard work . They are feeling less urgency to go directly to the border and are planning stops along the way to find work in cities like Monterrey that are near the border and offer many jobs in construction. Others are deciding or , at least, considering filing Asylum petitions in Mexico because the US border is becoming too dangerous and returning to their home countries not an option. Families who are seeking refugee status are staying longer due to the lengthy process time to complete documents. Some leave because the wait is too stressful .
This means that ABBA is dealing with the day to day challenge of meeting the basic needs of safe, appropriate housing and adequate, nutritious meals. Understandably, keeping the pantries full is a first line, basic responsibility. In the last two weeks, monies from the GoFundMe campaign have gone to supplement the existing food budgets which are being stretched to the limit. Our commitment now is to fill in whatever the most pressing needs are. There are several food banks in the area that make direct food contributions on a monthly basis, and other Friends of ABBA who make regular donations for food. The Latin American Relief Fund provides the money for the monthly rent, utilities and food. Again the increasing numbers are raising all costs across the board. ABBA is experiencing what all service organizations are now challenged with who provide humanitarian services to the migrants , limited resources and increased demand.
I hope those who read this update will continue to support ABBA and also increase our outreach by including our GFM page in your social media.
I believe in the work of ABBA and the important role we play and the difference we can make in the lives of the Migrants and their families who are fleeing dangerous economic , political and social oppression. Join us in whatever way you can.
Un Abrazo Fuerte ,
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$16,028 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 215 people in 10 months
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