La Familia Centeno-Delgado

From Kol Tzedek friends of La Familia Centeno-Delgado


Dear supporters of the Centeno-Delgado Family,

When the Centeno-Delgado Family arrived in Philadelphia over a year ago, the Kol Tzedek community mobilized to raise funds to support them. Joined by neighbors from West Philly and beyond, the first phase of fundraising gathered more than $65,000 to support this 7-person family covering a year of rent, food, transportation, clothes, legal expenses, significant medical bills, etc. etc.

These funds have carried the family to settle into the neighborhood, getting the children set for school and supporting them as they adjust to living in the United States after their long and arduous journey to find a safe place for their family. (For more on the history of how they landed here, see the original post.)

In this moment of coronavirus pandemic, the Centeno-Delgado Family, like all of us, is struggling to get through the shutdown without access to many of the supports they have built since arriving here. As they continue to await asylum proceedings, they remain barred from working. Unable to work, they do not qualify for the relief that is offered by federal government to many others.

If you are looking for a place to donate some or all of your coronavirus stimulus check, or simply thinking of ways to support local families in need through this difficult period, please give as generously as you can.

There is a major donor who has offered to match the first $5,000 we raise now. If 10 people gave $500 or if 50 people gave $100 people -- that would be transformative for this family. Please donate today.

Thank you so much for your contribution! We sincerely appreciate it.


This January, the Centeno-Delgado family of seven (2 parents and 5 children - ages 18 months, 7, 12, 14,  and 18 years old*) arrived in the United States seeking asylum, from El Salvador by way of Guatemala and Mexico. The Kol Tzedek Synagogue community is honored to be a part of welcoming them here.

We are aiming to raise $65,000 to support the Centeno-Delgado family.
Please consider what you can give, and then consider if you can give double that amount.

In 2015, the Centeno-Delgado family lost their eldest son who was murdered by gangs in collaboration with the police in El Salvador. When they sought justice, the Centeno-Delgado family faced further violence, and eventually had to flee for their own safety. In 2018, after more painful and violent experiences, the Centeno-Delgado family was staying in a Catholic shelter at the Mexico-US border, where they began seeking asylum. They had befriended a group of migrant transwomen who connected them with Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) which in turn connected them with Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari at Kol Tzedek Synagogue.**

The Kol Tzedek community has come together, to build community and solidarity with the Centeno-Delgado family. This experience has already been more meaningful than any of us could have imagined and we are grateful to continue to build with the Centeno-Delgado family.

Please contribute today.
While the Centeno-Delgado family waits for work permits and asylum, these resources will cover the costs of their basic needs for one year (housing, food, healthcare, legal fees, etc).

This is a call and an opportunity to show up in ways our society does not show up for all of us, and to put our values into practice. In this moment in history, if you’re looking for a concrete way to get involved with immigrant justice - please be a part of this effort.***

*Please note: For safety reasons, we are not sharing many identifying details.
**Learn more about the Centeno-Delgado’s story in their own words, below.
***If you’re interested in finding out more or getting involved beyond donating, click here .

La Historia De Familia Centeno-Delgado
The family’s story, in their own words

English Translation:

We are the Centeno family, we come from El Salvador.

We used to lead a normal life, we had a seafood business and we sold at the market, until 2015, when the gangs killed our first son, whom we have not found.

We know that our son was kidnapped and murdered by gangs in collaboration with a member of the police. We made reports. After denouncing the disappearance of our eldest son, the gang members told us that we had 20 hours to leave our home if we did not hand over our youngest son. They told us they would kill us all.

We never found support in the police or in the Salvadorian government, they told us that if we kept on seeking justice, the gangs would come after us. Searching for our son, we asked for help from various institutions: universities, the police, churches, etc. In our case, they did not help us because the police had been involved in the murder and disappearance of our son.

On our path for justice, we meet good people and bad people. On one occasion, an institution gave us rotten food, we got sick and had to go to eastern El Salvador, we reported it to the police, and that resulted in the sexual abuse of our daughter by a policeman.

After so much suffering, we decided to leave El Salvador, and went to Guatemala, where we were helped by institutions such as Doctors Without Borders, Univisión, the United Nations Refugee Agency-UNHCR, and Scalabrinian priests. We arrived in Mexico in April 2017 after two years of searching and reporting.

In Mexico we lived in peace for a few months, until we were found by the gang that had been pursuing us from El Salvador. That’s also where the baby was born, product of the sexual abuse towards our daughter. Now we are seven members in our family.

We had to leave Mexico because the gang again wanted to take our youngest son. We were forced to leave behind the small fruit business that we had been able to establish. We started our journey to the north of Mexico, where we were assaulted by a drug cartel, who beat and abused us: they told us to get out of Mexico.

We were afraid and sought shelter at the Mexico-US border, where we stayed a month and a half at a Catholic shelter. We were finally able to cross into Texas in three groups, first the father with the sons, then the mother with one daughter, lastly our daughter with the baby. We were in a Christian church in Texas, but we needed a sponsor.

Our transgender friends that we befriended along the way helped us, they contacted a sponsor for us that they trusted. We took five buses from Texas to get to where we are now, three days of travel. We have found a lot of support in the Jewish community, we liked it here because we felt safe. We are very grateful because in the last four years we had not found this kind of support.

We hope for our children to have access to education, and for ourselves to be able to work: we want to have a business again, and we know that we will have to start from scratch. We need support to pay for everything necessary (housing, food, clothes, footwear, medicine) while we wait for our work permit and asylum. We thank you very much for all your support and solidarity.

Original words:

Somos la familia Centeno, venimos de El Salvador.

Antes llevábamos una vida normal, teníamos un negocio de mariscos y éramos vendedores en el mercado, hasta el 2015, cuando las pandillas mataron a nuestro primer hijo, a quien no hemos encontrado.

Sabemos que a nuestro hijo lo secuestraron y asesinaron las pandillas en colaboración con un miembro de la policía. Hicimos denuncias. Después de denunciar la desaparición de nuestro hijo mayor, los pandilleros nos dijeron que teníamos 20 horas para abandonar nuestro hogar si no entregábamos a nuestro otro hijo menor. Nos dijeron que nos iban a matar a todos.

Nunca encontramos apoyo en la policía ni en el gobierno salvadoreño, nos dijeron que si seguíamos buscando justicia, las pandillas nos iban a perseguir. Buscando a nuestro hijo, pedimos ayuda a diversas instituciones: universidades, la policía, iglesias, etc. En nuestro caso, no nos ayudaron porque la policía había estado involucrada en el asesinato y desaparición de nuestro hijo.

En ese camino por la justicia, nos encontramos con gente buena y gente mala. En una ocasión, en una institución, nos dieron comida podrida, nos enfermamos y tuvimos que ir hacia el oriente de El Salvador, denunciamos ante la policía, y eso terminó en abuso sexual hacia nuestra hija: otra vez a manos de un policía.

Después de mucho dolor, decidimos dejar El Salvador, y fuimos a Guatemala, donde nos ayudaron otras instituciones como Médicos Sin Fronteras, Univisión, ACNUR, los sacerdotes Scalabrinianos. Llegamos a México en abril del 2017 después de dos años de búsqueda y denuncias.

En México vivimos unos meses en paz, hasta que nos encontró la pandilla que nos persiguió en El Salvador, allí también nació el niño producto del previo abuso sexual hacia nuestra hija. Ahora somos siete miembros en la familia.

Tuvimos que salir de México porque la pandilla otra vez se quiso llevar a nuestro hijo menor. Nos vimos obligados a dejar el pequeño negocio de venta de fruta que ya habíamos logrado establecer. Empezamos nuestro andar hacia el norte de México, donde fuimos asaltados por un cartel de la droga, quienes nos golpearon y abusaron: ellos nos dijeron que nos fuéramos de México.

Tuvimos miedo y buscamos albergue en la frontera de México-EUA, donde estuvimos mes y medio: ese era un albergue católico. Finalmente pudimos cruzar a Texas en tres grupos, primero el papá con los hijos varones, luego la mamá con una hija, al final nuestra hija con el bebé. Estuvimos en una iglesia cristiana en Texas, pero necesitábamos a un patrocinador, para ello nos ayudaron nuestras amigas transexuales que hicimos en el camino, ellas nos contactaron con un patrocinador en quienes confiaban.

Tomamos cinco camiones desde Texas para llegar hasta donde estamos ahora, tres días de viaje. Hemos encontrado mucho apoyo en la comunidad judía, nos ha gustado porque aquí nos sentimos seguros. Estamos muy agradecidos porque por los últimos cuatro años no habíamos encontrado este apoyo.

Tenemos el deseo de que nuestros hijos tengan acceso a la educación, y que pronto podamos trabajar: queremos regresar a ser comerciantes, y sabemos que vamos a tener que empezar desde cero. Necesitamos apoyo para pagar todo lo necesario (vivienda, comida, ropa, calzado, medicinas) mientras esperamos nuestro permiso de trabajo y asilo. De antemano, les agradecemos mucho por todo su apoyo y solidaridad.

This gofundme campaign is being run by Kol Tzedek Synagogue (led by Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari) and all funds will directly benefit the Centeno-Delgado family.


  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 20 d
  • Mara Lipschutz 
    • $360 
    • 1 mo
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 1 mo
  • Stephanie Benjamin 
    • $118 
    • 2 mos
  • Susan Putnins 
    • $18 
    • 2 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Kol Tzedek Synagogue 
Tucson, AZ
Ari Lev Fornari 
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