HISTORY OF ABBA

In 2012, Ignacio Martínez, a Christian pastor, noticed a great number of people asking for money along the railroad tracks. He began to research the reason for the influx of migrants and where they came from. What he discovered revealed a trend of predominantly Central American migrants dismounting trains at the crossroads of Celaya, Guanajuato, in search of help, people who were tired, hungry, and often ill.

Struck by the immediate need, the pastor studied the train schedules - specifically when migrants where getting on and getting off trains - to bring food and water. As trust grew, the pastor learned more and more about the recipients: their nationalities, how long they’d been traveling, and their basic needs, ranging from urgent medical emergencies to shoes and clean clothing. With an expanding list of necessities, the family invited neighbors and their church to collect shoes and clothing in good condition, and bringing food, water, shoes, and clothing to the tracks. They noticed, during distribution, a large number of people coming with walking related (and sometimes running) foot injuries from trekking long distances. Occasionally the injuries were so severe that they called the Red Cross ambulances. The Red Cross proposed sending an ambulance daily during the family’s hour along the route, thus the operation grew once more to provide food and water, clothing, footwear, and medical attention. Some neighbors in the area responded in turn by bringing food and clothing from their homes to distribute, as well.

The number of those assisted was considerable, and their needs clearly present, particularly among pregnant mothers with young children who asked for a place to rest for a handful of days before continuing their journey, migrants with illnesses requiring more days of rest, and frightened victims of crimes en route seeking a place of refuge. Accidents from the train were evident, too, strains and fractures caused by cables and from boarding moving trains. The family decided they needed to do more.

In November of 2015 the Pastor Ignacio Martínez and his family opened a shelter for rest, attention and refuge for migrants in Celaya, Guanajuato. ABBA worked for three years directly on the tracks (2012 - 2015). With an ever growing need ABBA now offers more comprehensive, professional assistance, including 72 hours of shelter, showers for personal hygiene, food, medical and psychological attention, legal assessments, contact with family via calls or Internet, and assistance to migrants with amputations.

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