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You might describe 2020 as a year of great uncertainty.  Yet for Via International and the community leaders with whom we work, 2020 has been a year characterized by great RESILIENCE 

Political and social unrest, the global pandemic and overall economic turmoil has upended the lives of so many. Via is responding to these pressures by working with trusted and emergent leaders in under-resourced communities to help guide and administer programs desperately needed now more than ever. We are continually inspired by the resilience and creativity of these leaders and hope you will be too. 

Your year-end gift enables grassroots leaders to respond to the urgent needs of their communities and build long-term sustainable community development.

You may have also heard stories of migrants “stuck at the border.”  Draconian policy changes on the border go by many names – “remain in Mexico,” “zero tolerance,” “catch and return” – but they all have the same effect. They have dramatically reduced the already slim chances for asylum in the United States, and they have created a serious humanitarian crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, exacerbated by the current pandemic.

The majority of these new arrivals will end up becoming permanent residents of Tijuana, whether or not we see any shift in asylum policy.  Tijuana has always been a city of migrants, and just like previous generations of new residents, the latest waves of new arrivals will need to forge their own pathways to self-reliance. 

This is where your support of Via, and our extensive network of community leaders comes in. For 45 years, donors like you have understood that with the proper tools, individuals, families and communities can thrive. Thank you!

This year, through your contributions and through the perseverance and resilience of staff and community leaders, Via successfully launched VIA MIGRANTE, taking the lessons learned from our unique model of community development, and applying them in support of the newest populations of migrants arriving in Tijuana (please see the back page of this letter for more details and photos of the Via Migrante program).

In yet another demonstration of resilience, community leaders (“promotoras”) from our network have been busy the last six months, distributing over 14,000 meals in low-income neighborhoods, to shelters, and community centers for migrants and deportees.

This immediate response to the humanitarian crises would not have been possible without your support, and without the tenacity and flexibility of grassroots leaders who demonstrate what true resilience looks like. This food aid program has helped to stabilize this population while moving toward the overarching goals of the VIA MIGRANTE program – providing newly arrived migrants with the tools for long term self-sufficiency. 

Meet Yesenia

 

Yesenia is a migrant who made the long, harrowing journey from El Salvador, where she was forced to leave her two children in hopes of finding safety. She is just one of thousands of migrants working to create new lives for themselves in Tijuana.  

Like so many other migrants, Yesenia arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border to find the doors of asylum shut. She found safety at a migrant shelter where 70 adults and children live in pop-up tents, on a large cement slab, enclosed by cinderblock walls, under a corrugated roof. There Yesenia has found a purpose for her life in helping other migrants– she now plans to settle permanently in Tijuana and hopes that soon her children will come to join her.  

 

Yesenia has emerged as a leader among her peers, and now works as the operations manager at the shelter. Her list of duties is long, from handling new arrival intakes, to coordinating children’s enrichment activities, responding to medical needs, managing government inquiries, and receiving visitors offering support. 

 

Yesenia has proven to be her own best resource. She thrives on the work of managing the shelter full-time and is working to improve her own life and the lives of others.  Almost offhandedly she says, “I also run a small kitchen that prepares pupusas, a typical dish from El Salvador.” What she doesn’t always tell folks is that the proceeds she earns from her small business go to support the shelter’s operational expenses. 

 

Yesenia is now safe, but her situation is still precarious.  She certainly doesn’t have a lot by U.S. standards, but her inner drive is remarkable and what she lacks in economic means she makes up for with hard work, generosity and RESILIENCE!

Supported by your donation to Via International, hundreds of leaders like Yesenia are responding creatively and adaptively to the economic crisis provoked by the global pandemic and the humanitarian crisis at the border

Many are serving as “promotoras” within their communities – armed with a mask and purpose, they are feeding their neighbors, educating others about how to stay healthy during this pandemic, providing information on nutrition education, and helping others on a path to self-reliance. 

They are creating solidarity groups, encouraging women to participate in microcredit for economic independence and stronger family financial health. Others still, are engaged as “charlamigos,” language tutors in the Escuela Amistad, an initiative of our own virtual cafe, the Via Café, dedicated to building bridges across borders.

The list goes on, but you get the idea.  Resilience is what has been demonstrated in the community in 2020 and what we will continue to support in 2021 with your help!

Make your generous donation NOW to Via International 

in support of leaders like these.

As a small token of our gratitude, please accept the enclosed 2021 calendar and take a moment to explore the many ways you can engage in the work of Via in the coming year.

Because of donors like you, Via International remains resilient and dedicated to a vision of the world where all people live in just, sustainable and healthy communities! 

Thank you in advance for your generosity!

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