Mexico – Salesian Refectory "Padre Chava", its doors open in this time of Covid-19: "We take care of the most vulnerable people"

07 April 2020

(ANS - Tijuana) - Since the health emergency for Covid-19 has begun in Mexico, thousands of people have been infected and activities have had to be stopped. Hundreds of thousands of people live on the border with the United States with the desire to move towards the "American dream". They are the most vulnerable people, they who live in the border area. The "Padre Chava" refectory holds its doors open despite the difficult context.

The center continues to serve migrants, because they are people who have been left without means of subsistence and without the possibility of accessing food and medical care. Faced with this crisis, efforts have had to be redoubled and the right measures taken to address current needs amid the risks of spreading the virus. "Because, even if the possibility of contracting the virus is latent, hunger and needs, in these days of scarcity, are increasing," explains Fr Agustín Novoa, SDB, Director of the center.

For just over 30 years, this Refectory has been serving meals, accompanying and welcoming the most vulnerable, especially migrants. Due to Covid-19, the refectory has suspended other ordinarily active activities, such as providing legal advice, psychological assistance, work-search desk, hairdresser service, school support for children and oratory activities at the weekend.

In the last three weeks it has not been possible to "receive our beneficiaries at home and in the family, invite them to eat at the table" to avoid forming crowds, says Claudia Portela, a Salesian Cooperator, active at the Refectory. However, the refectory service remains open an hour and a half longer than usual and serves just over 1,200 takeaway meals in plastic containers in which to put food, sometimes some fruit, and continues to distribute basic necessities.

Those who collaborate in the preparation and delivery of food comply with the health measures indicated by the health institutions. The health care service remains active and continues to serve approximately 40 patients per day. Doctors are in possession of medical filters and evaluate those who have some indication of respiratory diseases, as well as continuing the daily routine of evaluation and treatment of other possible diseases.

In a scenario like this, closing the Refectory is not an option, since thousands of people would be affected and the only possibility for them would be to steal or resort to drugs, thus increasing the level of violence.

Ms Portela also says that, in order for the Refectory to remain active in the coming weeks, it is necessary to buy food to prepare and deliver, recover clothing so that volunteers and doctors can maintain adequate health measures, and pay for gas in order to cook.



ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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