Thanks to donated toothbrushes, toothpaste and combs, Elvira and her daughter, Yasmin, just showered after seven days.
In Laredo, Texas, and other small towns along the Texas-Mexico border, more and more buses are arriving late in the day or at night at local bus shelters. The buses are filled with children and women from Honduras, Guatemala and other countries in Central America, who are often fleeing drug cartels and growing gang violence. The majority of the children are travelling alone, the women are tired, and once they’ve been dropped off at the bus terminals, they are left to fend for themselves.
These immigrants have already been processed at government processing stations, and have been released to appear in court at a later date. They are then dropped off at local bus stations to make their way to their final destination — their friends, family, or sponsors — where they will stay until their immigration status is determined.
The women and children are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance as they make their way to their U.S. hosts. United Methodist Women is supporting a number of National Mission Institutions — for example by supplying funds for hygiene kits, clothing and other needed items — who are providing assistance to these immigrants.
One National Mission Institution, the Holding Institute Community Center in Laredo, Texas, is working with the First United Methodist Church and other faith-based or non-profit organizations to see to the immediate needs of these women and children. Some 75 immigrants arrive every day at Holding, where they are given respite, food, clothing, showers, informal counseling, and phones to communicate with the families or hosts they will be staying with. Places like the Holding Institute act as temporary resting places, where these children and women can get some of their immediate needs met before they continue on their journey.
United Methodist Women members can help with the humanitarian assistance effort in Laredo and elsewhere. Members can donate to the Holding Institute and other United Methodist Women National Mission Institutions, or can drop off supplies at a number of churches or community centers. Please see the details of how you can help in the right column of this page. The women and children from Central America desperately need our help on this part of their long journey.
Judy Kading, a former social action coordinator with United Methodist Women, is volunteering at the Holding Institute. She is also blogging about her experience. Read her blog posts to find out more about the situation in Laredo and elsewhere.