Migrant Organizers Of Tijuana Need Housing

Hi Friends! We send our love all the way from Zona Norte, Tijuana.

The migrant organizers of ‘el comedor’ Contra Viento Y Marea Comedor  need you. We've gotta raise the money to pay the rent of our house for the next few months. All 18 of us organizers need a secure roof over our heads to be able to run the comedor full time. The comedor is a community kitchen, garden and donation center where we serve approximately 250 hot meals for free, lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Saturday. We give donations of clothes, shoes, backpacks, sleeping bags, foldable cots, blankets, self care toiletries, toys, and other survival goods to men, women and children of all ages those same days we serve meals. We also host a free medical clinic every other Saturday with a team of US based doctors and nurses that volunteer their time to treat those in our area who otherwise would not be able to afford medical care.

Everything we do is supported through donations. The comedor rent is raised separately through diverse sources that include crowdsource funding and grants. (You can support the comedor rent and bills through this link. ) Drop us your change to make a world of difference in the lives of Central American migrant organizers who are on the front lines of the war on migrants at the US-MX border.

For migrants and refugees, the border crossing at Tijuana is virtually closed. According to the Associated Press, Tijuana has the longest waiting list, of all the border towns, for immigrants trying to enter the US. We have close to 5,000 migrants who are unable to go back home and cannot enter the US who are literally stuck here without any money as they try to wait in line for their number to be called to be able to cross legally. The ‘metering’ system in place is leading many migrants to attempt to cross through more dangerous places or to be caught in a city where cartels often kidnap migrants to extortion their families.

A place like Contra Viento Y Marea’s comedor that’s a few blocks away from the border wall, is vital for them to be able to eat, get a coat and a new backpack while they make life or death decisions about their future. It’s also a place where they can come volunteer and receive free housing, food and transportation while they wait for their asylum cases to go to court.

The area where the comedor is located is one of the poorest neighborhoods starved of the most basic resources. Everything costs less because the average minimum wage for a full day’s work is $10. Even folks who are working full time struggle to support their families and come to us for lunch or dinner. Our space is a welcoming place for recently arriving migrant families, for the homeless community, for those recently deported from the US and anyone else who cannot afford to buy food.

Tijuana is one of the most dangerous cities in the world as it is the crossroads for multiple human, drug and sex trafficking rings. We have been able to secure a safe, comfortable place for the volunteers to rest at night without the worries of being kidnapped or robbed but we need consistent, reliable funding to keep our house.

US dollars go farther in Tijuana because everything is cheaper here. For every dollar you give, we can make it go farther because the exchange rate is $18.50 per dollar. That means we are able to live and operate the community kitchen, donation center and community garden with less money than it would cost to do it in the US. We can also afford to house all 18 volunteers with less money.

The money we want to raise from this page will go towards rent, bills, food and transportation for all volunteers for half the year. Those bills are gas, electric and water. The rent is $1,100 USDs or around $20,000 pesos. The gas bill is $200 USDs per 3 - 4 weeks. The water bill is about $200 USD’s per month. The electric bill usually come out to around $150 USDs. In total we pay approximately $1,650 USDs for rent and bills. A few other expenses we have are food and gas money for transportation to and from the comedor. We cut down on the food costs by eating breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner at the community kitchen. With the cost of food, transportation, bills and rent, we are paying $2,050 per month to support the migrant volunteers.

There are no other migrant led community kitchens in Tijuana that are organized around the principal of mutual aid, not charity. What makes our migrant volunteers special is the fact that they want to actively organize and help our community as a way of giving back in exchange for the help they received along their journey north. They are primarily from Honduras but also from El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. The migrant volunteers of the comedor came to Tijuana with the second caravan last winter. They started the comedor after the bodega near the Benito Juarez sports stadium where they were living was closed down by the local government. It's the place where this group of Central American migrants from the caravan could gather for meals and check up on one another.

The volunteers have all travelled thousands of miles from home, across the borders of three countries, in hopes of reaching the US in some cases to be reunited with family, in other cases, they are fleeing cartel violence or extreme poverty. While they wait for their asylum cases to be processed, which can take up to a year or longer, they are volunteering at the comedor in exchange for food, a couple of donations of shoes or clothing, and a secure roof over their heads. That’s where you come in. We could not keep the comedor open without the support of donations to house the volunteers who are not paid for their efforts. Please consider giving any amount to the housing of the migrant volunteers so we can continue to run this beautiful space.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, "Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom." Your donations to us are not charity. Your donations are an act of justice because they are helping migrants and others in our community overcome poverty. Your donations change lives.

The house, like the comedor, is run on a consensus based decision-making model. The reasons for doing it this way is because it’s centering control in the hands of the migrant volunteers. Migrants are the ones who call the shots here. We do not have leaders because we are all leaders. This means we do not have an executive director because we believe we can all serve as the decision-makers by voting on the most important things that impact us. Furthermore, we rotate the hardest jobs, like washing dishes and cleaning bathrooms, amongst ourselves. Organizing in this way requires greater communication and participation from everyone, but makes for stronger decisions.

The house and the comedor are examples of what autonomous, migrant led projects can be if only given adequate financial and material support. We hope to serve as an example for other projects seeking to organize away from the non-profit system. If you believe, as we do, that migrants know best about how to run a community project like ours, then support us by sharing this page with your contacts and giving any amount on a monthly basis.

The money we raised through March 18, 2020 (totaling $2468) has been used to cover housing costs through the end of the month of April. Unable to get food and medical supplies from out solidarity networks across the border, we’ve started using any addition housing money as it comes in to buy basic food and supplies. All additional funds will go to housing as well as be used to buy food and survival supplies as well as cover other vital expenses in this difficult time.

We cannot do this with donations exclusively from our community. We need you! Thank you.


To donate using Venmo, send funds to @tjrefugee-support with the word ‘casa’ in the comments.

For more information, visit our website http://contravientoymareatj.com/

Check out our Facebook page for regular updates about el comedor. @contravientoymareacomedor

Links to recent articles and videos published about el comedor:





La Opinion


Zeta Tijuana


It’s Going Down 




Survival Media Agency




Donations ()

  • Ashlyn Frain 
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Devi Machete 
Temetate, VER
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