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ABBA: Finding Refuge
Movie / Party / Benefit - Friday, July 8

by Roger Jones

In 2012, Ignacio Martínez, a Christian pastor in Celaya, began to take better account of the migrants passing through his city, riding "The Beast," the freight train, north. He most frequently encountered these people as they asked for money. The information he obtained told him that these people were mostly Central American migrants, fleeing persecution, who got off the train, tired, hungry, and often sick, to seek help. And he looked for the best way to minister to their needs.

It became a matter of logistics. A place near the tracks was needed, where it would be easiest to make contact. Father Ignacio's team, the "Family," would need to know the train schedules to determine when people got off and on the train to distribute the food and water they proposed to give the migrants.

Being closer, personally and spatially allowed the padre's team to learn more about the migrants' situation: nationality, travel time... and to provide for their basic needs, first and foremost, food and drink. But there were also medical needs and some emergencies. So, they began calling the Cruz Roja ambulance from time to time.

Soon the Family no longer brought only food and drink, but also clean clothes and shoes. They began to visit their neighbors to solicit clothes and shoes in good condition to take to the migrants, While fitting the shoes they realized that the migrants often had wounds on their feet from so much walking, and even running, on their way,

Cruz Roja, seeing the need so present in these people, decided to send an ambulance at the same time that the Family took food to the tracks. In this way the care at the tracks grew further. The work that was being done was very evident to the residents of the area and some came to give the migrants more support, food and clothing brought from their homes to be distributed.

The number of people being helped by these efforts was considerable. By being physically closer to the tracks, to the migrants, the Family's mission enlarged. Needs became more present and pressing. There were pregnant women with children in their care, who asked for a place to rest for a few days before continuing on their journey. There were people with illnesses that required rest and recuperation. Some people had been victims of crime during the trip and now, afraid to continue, were looking for a place of rest and refuge. The accidents that occurred on the train were also all too clear. These included people with injuries to their bodies caused by the cables that were in strung over where the train passes, people with sprains and fractures caused by trying to get on the moving train, people who had lost limbs.

It became clear that so much more needed to be done. So Pastor Ignacio Martínez and his Family rededicated themselves to their mission. After working for three years, from 2012 to 2015, at the foot of the tracks, in 2015 they opened the Albergue, Casa ABBA, a residence in Celaya for the rest, care and shelter of immigrants.

At ABBA, located about a ten-minute walk from La Bestia train, we currently work to provide more comprehensive and professional care, providing our services such as: 72 hours to stay, showers for personal hygiene, food, medical and psychological care, legal counseling, contact with relatives through calls or via the Internet and support for amputee migrants.

No one wants to leave home. These migrants were forced to leave their homeland after seeing their neighbors extorted and killed by ruthless criminal gangs, and knowing that they were next. Much of that violence is from illegal weapons that make their way to gangs in their country, mostly from the United States.

The refugee crisis is growing every day. More and more people are being dislocated from their countries. Women that are traveling are told that they should take birth control pills because the chances of being raped is high. Many of the travelers are families, including children and elderly parents. Migrants often become victims of human rights violations and are targeted for human trafficking, which includes sex, labor and organ trafficking.

Housing over 40 immigrants each night, and providing care to many more at the tracks, Casa ABBA has helped over 80,000 migrants, most from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico, Haiti, and Venezuela. ABBA also has 18 mostly permanent guests with disabilities. Most of these are amputees, who often get a temporary visa while they are helped and wait to get their prosthesis.

I say "we" because, I am now part of Padre Ignacio's Family. I invite you to join ABBA, donating your time or your tax-deductible contribution. Your kindness and generosity will go a long way to softening the harshness of those fleeing persecution.

Why not start by attending this cinematic event and after-party?
Or call me, Roger, at 415-153-7092

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Movie / After-Party
Friday, July 8, 7pm, Hidalgo 25
All proceeds go to Casa ABBA

The fight of his life wasn't in the ring.

Ex-fighter Raymundo forms an unlikely bond with a disgruntled man whose life and relationship with his daughter are unraveling. The men join forces to win a fight that could very well save Raymundo, his wife, and their child.

Watch the Trailer

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