Refuge and Restoration

March 1, 2024— Journey to Hope!

The news cycle continues to bring stories of the humanitarian migrant crisis at the southern and increasingly, northern boarder of the United States. The Claretian led Albergue San Oscar Romero shelter in Juarez, Mexico, is on the front lines there, serving the needs of the families and individuals living in forced migration.

Of more than 20 area shelters, Romero stands apart from most others in how the ministry grapples with the complex issues of forced migration. Fr. Carl Quebedeaux, the Claretian leader at the shelter shares that what often misunderstood about the crisis is that the migrants are “not pursuing the American dream but fleeing for their lives and security leaving behind very difficult situations.”

Among the migrants staying at Romero are those who have traveled thousands of miles on foot through the Darien Gap. They are joined by families whose best hope to ease the distance of their journey is to secure their children to the top of freight trains headed to Juarez. Several migrants have shared stunning and heartbreaking pictures of these experiences with Fr. Carl. During a journey that can takes months or even years, families focused on survival aren’t celebrating birthdays or getting children to school. They’ve fled their homes and loved ones in hopes of safety, security and life itself.

What awaits the migrants who arrive at the Romero Shelter is the very realization of the Claretian mission to serve those left behind. The shelter is unique in the integral, holistic approach in attending to all needs of each person at shelter; from the intense psycho/social traumas caused by the separation from home life and the treacherous journey. Migrants arrive with health needs that haven’t been attended to for far too long, the need for legal aid to seek asylum and, with no school along the way, children who have missed years of education. Romero shelter addresses these needs in a non pay-to-stay arrangement with no set time limit on the stay.

The shelter re-integrates residents to lost roles in their home communities by creating a welcoming family. Residents prepare favorite meals of their home countries for each other and participate in taking care of the facility. They join together for health seminars presented by partners like UNICEF and other aid groups. In the safety and security of the shelter, families are better able to plan for next steps in asylum process and reuniting with their families in the United States. The migrants staying at the Romero shelter aren’t those featured in news stories about migrant busing to sanctuary cities. Romero residents arrive legally through the asylum process.

Perhaps the greatest uniqueness, blessing and gift of Romero shelter is the beginning of a caring restoration to a more familiar life. Children (and adults) once again celebrate birthdays, partake in sponsored trips to the park and museums, break bread as a community and family, and look forward to giving thanks together at upcoming Easter festivities. Fr. Carl points out how important it is to re-engage children in their schooling, yet another notable unique aspect of life for families at Romero shelter.

Let Fr. Carl share the Romero story in a more personal way by watching the video segment of an interview from the shelter below. In advance of your continued support of all we’re able to do through you, Thank You! You make all the difference to the migrants blessed to find refuge and restoration at the Albergue San Oscar Romero shelter in their journey to safety and security.

Watch a segment of an interview with Romero Shelter’s Fr. Carl (recorded 11/22/23)

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