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US Border Migrant Caravan

PPM Disaster Response: US Border Migrant Caravan

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It's estimated that the number of asylum seekers arriving in Tijuana will increase to over 9,000 before Christmas. These men, women, and children have traveled over the past three months, eyes set on the United States in hopes of a better life. This situation has been highly politicized, cultivating division, hate, and misunderstanding. Our understanding and response is as follows:

- By Christmas, about 9,000 people will need shelter. Right now, most people are sleeping on cardboard at a park in a government-run shelter. 

- Our sources on the ground estimate that upwards of 80% of the 9,000 will ultimately be denied asylum. With no immediate way for them to enter the United States, the vast majority of them will establish their home in Mexico, and some will return to their home countries. 

-Regardless of who is granted asylum and who is denied, we are grateful to report that the local church in Tijuana is rising up to support this influx of migrants. Many churches are opening their doors to house 20, 40, 60 people for the long-term. If their asylum claim is denied, the churches will help them get started on a new life in Baja. 

Praying Pelican Missions is eager to come alongside these churches to support their efforts and provide practical encouragement as they provide shelter, food, and love. Currently, our primary means of doing this is through financial support to these churches in Tijuana and the Baja region. If you, your church, or your organization would like to join in this effort, please follow the donate link below. PPM is matching all donations dollar for dollar, up to $10,000. Our prayer is for those who have no home tonight - our actions are following. 

Updates From The Field

December 12 Update

by Adam McLane | December 13, 2018 11:04 AM

What an amazing day. Truly incredible when things align and click. So many days have felt a little lonely in this, today was the opposite. 

Last night a family from San Diego came by to organize all the donations that continue to pour in. Kristen and I have been overwhelmed by this task, so it might sound trivial but it meant a ton to have them come by and pack up the donations. 

This morning I met Jody, a nurse from Philly sent by an organization interested in getting involved, at the border. We instantly hit it off and headed to cross while talking a million miles an hour.

Full stop, Mexican customs pulled me into secondary to look at what we had. Fortunately, after they x-rated the van and had a look at all the diapers, they let me go without charging me anything. Woohoo! 

From there we tried to find a donation center, after stopping a couple of times and talking to a sleeping police officer, we finally found it... only to discover that they weren’t receiving donations. And they don’t know why they were on the list! 

Onward, we went to El Barattel, the main city shelter for members of the migrant caravan. Once we got there we spent an hour or so sharing stories and hearing details of all the work Nazarene Compassion Ministries volunteers have been doing as they served the caravan from the Southern border of Mexico to Tijuana. 

The sad news for me was that this was the last time I got to bring them things as they are moving on, heading somewhere else in Mexico to meet the needs of those in need. It’s hard to see these friends leave but at the same time I’m hopeful we can find a group of local doctors willing to take up the task. 

I prefer to be discreet with my visits to the shelter, in and out as quickly as possible, so today’s lingering was really special. I was emotional when it ended. 

Another member of the medical brigade took Jody and I into the part of the shelter reserved for families to try to share some lice medication with a little girl. I love that the city has provided a safe place for families, it’s out of the weather, it has a roof, it provides security and some privacy, but it’s not great conditions. I’m really worried about the long-term impact on the children in the shelter, I’m hopeful we will see more child-friendly spaces emerge as time goes on. 

After some more sharing and lingering we connected with an American pastor from San Diego who told us about her partner church in downtown Tijuana. It is the same place the Nazarene clinic people have been staying so we got connected with the pastor to take our donations. 

Back across the city we go to make that delivery and get to know that pastor a little. It turns out he is in the process of opening a shelter, so I look forward to hearing more about that soon. 

So now what? It’s a simple question with layers on layers of complexity in the answer. 

The quick answer is “onward.” There’s much to do and I’m committed to helping. 

Part one of our response is, for now, coming to an end. The emergency need is well managed. I’ll stay engaged with meeting these needs as they arise. 

But part two is blossoming. Every day I’m making connections with amazing orgs & people who are committed to the same values we are, meeting immediate needs while resourcing churches and non-profits to meet the needs of migrants long-term, sustainably, for everyone regardless of ability or circumstance. 

Thank you for your continued partnership. Without neighbors and friends near and afar, none of this would be possible. 

Thursday, Dec 6 Update

by Adam McLane | December 7, 2018 3:35 AM

Today we set off on a mission to find forgotten people from the caravan. When the closed the Benito Juarez Sports complex several thousand migrants were moved across town to the new, bigger shelter, but more than a thousand never made it over there. 

Several hundred are huddled in the street in front of the old shelter, but there are still a lot in overpasses and little open spots all over. In relief terms we refer to these as IDP camps... Internally Displaced Persons. 

We drove around until we found a group of 50+ tents in a small park near a fire station. When we asked around they were glad to receive donations. We gave them about half of what we had... toilet paper, diapers, baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, and body wash. A man in a short sleeved shirt asked me if we had any jackets. I told him we didn't then gave him the one I was wearing. 

From there we went to a large drug store and handed over our giant list of needs from the doctors at the migrant shelter where lots of people are suffering with cold, flu, respiratory illness, stomach issues, and head lice. When I showed the pharmacist the list her eyes got huge... "this is a lot of things!" She started gathering them. When she came back with the first couple of items I explained that I didn't want one of each item I wanted 5... maybe 10. 

Over the counter drugs are significantly cheaper in Mexico compared to the United States. So when all was said and done we filled up half of a Rubbermaid tug and they charged my credit card $600. We were all laughing... they were laughing because it was an uncomfortable amount of stuff to sell... we were laughing because it was a fraction of what it'd cost 5 miles north. Everyone wins! 

From there we drove to the main shelter, which is quickly turning into a large and well run refugee camp. Even though it rained a lot in the past two days everyone was in good spirits, looking as good as you might expect in the circumstances. 

We met with our friends at the Iglesia de Nazarena Medical Ministry tent, gave them the OTC drugs they needed, dropped off a bunch of diapers, wipes, soap, and feminine hygiene products... and a soccer ball... and headed back to the border. 

Thank you so much for your donations and financial contributions. It's make a big difference. 
Thursday, Dec 6 Update

An Update from Wednesday, Dec 5

by Adam McLane | December 5, 2018 9:08 AM

Forecast for the next 48 hours is rainy with lows in the 40s. People from Central America are really going to suffer in these conditions.

So today, while I'm speaking at a conference up in Palm Springs, I'm looking for 2-3 volunteers to help distribute blankets, tarps, and tents to migrants in TJ who aren't in the city run shelters. There are lots of people under bridges and on the streets in the cold and rain of the next 36 hours.

We will also purchase and deliver as much medicine as we can buy as we can/collect locally to deliver to doctors caring for people in the city run shelters.

I'll be back in TJ on Thursday and Friday to deliver supplies to those in the main shelter and those who have stayed in Zona Rio to be closer to the border. 

This weekend I am headed up to the San Francisco Bay Area. If you live up there and want to hear more about what we're doing on the ground please get in contact with me. I'll be briefly presenting an update at First Presbyterian Church in Hayward on Sunday during both of their services. 

An update from Monday, December 3

by Adam McLane | December 4, 2018 10:39 AM

Today was a big day. 

PPM staffers Linda and her husband Jesse joined me for a very full day. 

First, we started at the border, where Linda and Jesse got to witness the calling of the names of the people who finally had their asylum claims heard today. All of those who want to seek asylum put their name on a list maintained by Mexican immigration. There are thousands of names on this list, but each day only 40 or so families have their number called. (Learn more about this here: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/656/let-me-count-the-ways)

From there, we picked up a few needed items for our next stop at Inglesia Christiana Camino de Salvacion. Once at the church we had an opportunity to meet with Pastor and his wife and the 33 people who the church is sheltering while they wait for their hearing with the United States Customs and Border Patrol. In the past four months the church has housed about 150 people at various times. In the 2 years since they started, they hosted 300 more. Thanks to the donations of so many people from all walks of life and all over the United States we were able to come alongside the church and offer some money to pay for their water bill this month, some food, jackets, socks, women's underwear, and things like that. Before leaving, I made an appointment to come back that fits better with their work schedule. Besides serving as the church's pastors, they each have jobs to support their ministry. We were so inspired by our visit today. 

Our last stop was to the city's migrant shelter. There we dropped off a delivery of diapers, wipes, feminine hygiene products, and soap. And along the way we got to know the men and women from Nazarene Compassion Ministries in Mexico who have been working with the migrant caravan for more than 2 months. We were so impressed by them! 

And finally, tonight I got a message on WhatsApp from one of the workers at the Nazarene medical clinic with a request for some medicines they are nearly out of. Many of the people at the migrant shelter are suffering from a respiratory infection and many of the children have head lice. So while I was hoping to take a day to regroup I'll instead be driving down in the morning to purchase some medical supplies. 

To donate something for the city shelters, please use this Amazon Wishlist. http://a.co/6OKltwY

To donate money towards our long-term solution, helping local churches in TJ answer God's call to host migrants, please donate at the link on this page. 

An Update from Sunday, December 2

by Adam McLane | December 2, 2018 6:42 PM

Here's a long update from yesterday: I took two separate trips to Tijuana yesterday serving two different goals.

Please, please, please consider giving. The need is massive.

#1 - Providing immediate relief 
We loaded up my minivan with a lot more stuff than we had before, crossed our fingers that we'd get in without problems, and set out to drop-off at the city's new migrant shelter 11 miles south of the Otay Mesa border.

Honestly, it couldn't have gone more smooth. Zero problems crossing the border, less-than-average traffic on the streets, the drop-off of goods was easy.

After we dropped your donations off we hung around for a while and I'm glad we did. All four of us spent time walking around inside and outside of the shelter area to get the vibe. It's much larger and the city is much less involved in running it (they are out of $$$). But it is large, secure, and much better conditions. There is a building that'll be used for families so that they are inside, though it's unheated. And the rest of the area is high and dry so it won't flood like the sports complex did.

The problem really is going to be the distance from the border, I'm afraid it's going to be "out of sight, out of mind" where they moved them. We estimated that only between 2000-3000 of the group were there as of yesterday morning meaning there's 3000-4000 people somewhere else in the city, which isn't good because these are very vulnerable people.

Tents, blankets, soap, diapers, wipe, hygiene items are all still a need. I'll post an official list if I can get it.

On the outside of the building were some churches offering clothing and food. As I mentioned yesterday, we had a chance to talk to the couple leading things from a small church who was feeding 1,000 people yesterday and will be back today. We were able to contribute $40 to help provide oatmeal for today's distribution. (They are making an oatmeal drink that is a staple for Central Americans, so a little bit of comfort food.)

I think I'll be making a trip down there later in the morning (Sunday) as I've got lots of stuff to deliver. Again, thank you so much!

If anyone wants to go, please let me know. It helps to have people along for the ride, and the church doing food distribution said they could use the help.

#2 - Supporting local churches offering long-term shelter to migrants.
Last night we met with a pastor who has been hosting migrants in his church for a little over 2 years. When we arrived they were hosting 26 people. They had 39 earlier in the week, but 13 were recently able to have their cases heard. We were impressed at how well organized and comfortable things are. They've converted Sunday school classrooms into living quarters. Pastor even gave up his office to house families.

To me, it was very important to hear that the whole church and even people from the neighborhood are rallying to support them.

While we were meeting with pastor, Mexican immigration brought them 15 more people from Honduras that will stay with them a few weeks while their paperwork is processed to return home.

I'm happy to report that everything checks out with this church. They come highly recommended, and having met with them personally, I have high confidence that everything is legitimate.

With an eye on a long-term solution for the migrants arriving in TJ, we're going to begin supporting them on a small scale with the funds you are donating as we get to know one another and explore other ways to support.

Here's a list of their current needs: 
- $260 for their water bill (41 people taking showers, using the toilet, cooking, washing... you can imagine they are using a TON of water.) 
- $100 to feed 41 people for a week in the shelter.
- $150 for socks and women's underwear. 
- $150 towards jackets for everyone... it's winter here and it's really, really cold if you're from Central America! 
- Big bottles of dish soap (Think Costco or Smart & Final)

I am going back tomorrow (Monday) and would LOVE to be able to meet those specific needs.

They also have a larger need that I would love to see you all help me rally to meet. Right now, the city considers this church an emergency shelter. But they'd like to get certified to be a permanent shelter so that they can get access to some city programs and not worry about getting shut down if the government decides the emergency situation is over. To do that, they are going to need about $20,000 in materials to add some more private rooms and safety stuff to meet the cities requirements. Honestly, we're not at a place where I can commit to that but if we want to rally together I think we can do it.

Here's How You Can Get Involved:

To give money, please visit this link. Praying Pelican Missions is matching the first $10,000 given towards this relief effort: 

To give something to the city-run migrant shelter, see this Amazon WishList: http://a.co/ghTbtqU

If you are local (San Diego area), you can collect/buy things and bring them to my house. I will deliver them for you. 
Here's what is needed: 
- Tents
- Tarps
- Warm blankets
- Feminine hygiene products
- Toothpaste 
- Diapers (all sizes) 
- Baby wipes
- Body wash and soaps


Thank you again for responding. It means so much to so many. 
An Update from Sunday, December 2

An Update from Friday, Nov 30

by Adam McLane | December 1, 2018 7:29 PM

I wanted to start this update with the good news as this is a very fluid situation and the good news sometimes gets lost. For the past few days there's been a job fair near the main migrant shelter and a steady stream of people have been heading over there to get paperwork to accept jobs. (Tijuana faces a labor shortage, there are tons of job opportunities for migrants.) Once they get a job offer they can apply for temporary visas on humanitarian grounds. That won't impact their ability to claim asylum in the United States but it will lessen their dependency on aid. Also, with the prospects of waiting upwards of a year for their case to be heard, about 100 people have accepted the offer of Mexican immigration to take a flight home. Finally, last night the City of Tijuana opened a new shelter last night. This one has a roof which will help greatly. As of last night (Thursday) 500 of the 6000 people at the main shelter have accepted an offer to go to the new shelter. They aren't forced to go there and it's far from the border so getting people to voluntarily move is going to be interesting. 

Today I'm continuing to collect items that we will deliver tomorrow morning (Saturday). As of right now I'm planning to keep making deliveries to the main city shelter of relief supplies, but obviously that situation is changing and so we will determine where to go as things change. 

And I'm looking forward to meeting with a local pastor tomorrow evening. I hope to start building relationships with some of the churches hosting migrant shelters in their congregation and this is the first step. 

To review, our approach to this situation is two-pronged:
1. We are providing immediate relief with donated goods like tents, tarps, diapers, wipe, soap, etc. But we acknowledge this effort, while valuable, is a short-term solution. 
2. We are working hard to come alongside and support local churches who are responding to the call for help in a way that's long-term and sustainable. 

Thank you for your contributions. It's making a difference! 

An Update from Thursday, Nov 29

by Adam McLane | November 30, 2018 8:21 PM

An update from Tuesday, Nov 27

by James Noreen | November 28, 2018 4:12 PM

Written by PPM partner, Adam McLane:

My friend Scott and I walked across the border this morning on a scouting mission to figure out exactly where the main migrant shelter is, how to get there, where to bring donations, and who would be distributing our donations. 

I haven't seen many media descriptions so I hope this is helpful. 

The entire area where the migrant shelter is, which is a public sports park, is very secure with layers of police around the park. A half block or so away you start encountering people who are dropping off donations and a few food vendors. As you get closer you start to encounter more and more members of the media. There are tons of Mexican, American, and International media outside of the migrant shelter. Hundreds. 

When you get to the main street where the shelter's entrance is there are a number of tents and trucks set up, which reminded me of a street fair with booths on the edges and people walking down the middle of the street. On the far end of the there's food and water for migrants being served by the Mexican Marines. In the middle area there are tents set up from the Mexican government and the International Organization on Migration who are offering access to services. In the media today there's a lot of talk of the IOM's work as they are offering to return anyone who would like to go home and reportedly about 100 have done so already. 

Next to that area are a number of medical tents for a few governmental and non-governmental organizations. All told, probably 20 groups have tents setup to offer assistance are there. 

No one is allowed into the camp itself without authorization. (I mentioned it was secure, right?) So on this trip we were just able to look in and see what was going on outside. 

The main success of this trip was identifying exactly where to bring donations like diapers, wipes, blankets, tents, and sleeping bags. Now that I know where that's at... game on. 

My first impressions were: 

- It' much more organized than I imagined. 
- The media has been talking a lot about the squalor conditions on the inside of the park itself. I've been in other refugee camps, in camps after disasters, and they all have sanitation issues. I say that to mention that what I saw at least looked pretty orderly at this point. I know that they are going to struggle mightily with illness, cleanliness, etc. That's why I think it's so important to help other shelters open up that can offer better conditions. 
- I'm really, really worried about the condition of this camp when the rains come Wednesday night and Thursday. It could get really bad, really fast. 
- It was awesome to see that every organization who was serving there was Mexican. I look forward to figuring out how we can come alongside these local organizations and assist them. 


Adam lives in San Diego, just a short distance from the border. He will be making multiple trips over the coming weeks to deliver supplies and donations. 
An update from Tuesday, Nov 27

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