ADRA provides medical assistance to migrants in Mexico

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The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), in coordination with Adventist health professionals and volunteers from the Autonomous University of Baja California, Mexico, recently joined efforts in Baja California to provide medical services to dozens of migrants in two shelters in Tijuana.

The ADRA initiative, which has been ongoing since March 2022, aims to help migrants with much-needed medical services. These migrants have left their home countries of Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and other states in Mexico, and are now seeking temporary shelter as they attempt to move north to the United States.

This time, 50 volunteers offered nutritional care, dental services and psychosocial support, as well as workshop activities for children. The volunteers were coordinated by a group from ADRA’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) in conjunction with the area Adventist medical ministry.

“This shelter service has a bigger impact because every week that we come with ADRA’s emergency response team, we notice that the needs are so great here that they require the support of many more people. volunteers,” said ADRA ERT Director Carlos King.

A handful of medical professionals travel once or twice a month or sometimes more to provide services to a dozen migrants during the four hours they spend in shelters, he said.

Tijuana is known as one of the main border crossing areas in Mexico and, according to the Baja California government secretariat, in 2021 more than 31,000 migrants were identified in immigration offices or shelters. The number of those passing through the north is probably higher than officially reported.

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The Ambassadeurs de Jésus and Petite Haïti shelters can accommodate up to 1,400 people and are always full. Migrants typically stay for a few days, or weeks, or even months before heading north or figuring out their next move, King said. The shelters are run by an organization of the Baptist church.

During the six hours that the large health brigade visited on September 17, the nine chairs designated for the dental services section were kept busy, with dozens of patients moving quickly, said medical ministry coordinator Josue Armenta. “We were very happy to see 64 patients with various dental needs, including some with serious conditions,” he said. About 181 people benefited from the medical services initiative.

“God has blessed us with the opportunity to have more mobile equipment for this type of assistance,” Armenta said. “We now have an X-ray machine that allows us to better see the oral condition of each patient, to provide them with better medical attention.” More equipment is needed, he said, but it’s a blessing to be able to help so many people at this time.

“Thank you for coming to take care of us and support us,” said Guadalupe, a 60-year-old woman who uses a walker. She traveled with her children from Honduras. They stayed at the shelter for over a month. “I have several health issues, but thanks to this visit, my tooth no longer hurts,” Guadalupe said.

Among the ERT volunteers was Veronica Robles, who has an education degree and has helped minors with psychosocial activities. Robles has witnessed great emotional needs in shelters and said she was happy to provide support during visiting hours with the team. “I find it rewarding, to have been able to share some of my knowledge with them, and most importantly, show them love,” Robles said. “I do worry, however, about the types of people they will become if they don’t receive any follow-up when it comes to their mental health.”

Called “Let’s Go Together,” the ADRA project is expected to expand into larger efforts and continue to provide medical assistance to migrants in the weeks and months to come.

The original version of this story was published on the Inter-American Division news sites.

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