"I'm afraid that they will take us away from here because we are undocumented, I'm afraid that the situation in my Country will not be solved, that we will not be able to return to our families," says Brangely, a Venezuelan migrant living in Colombia. She, like hundreds of thousands of other migrants, left her native country in search of better opportunities, putting her life and that of her family at risk, leaving everything behind her.

Violence, insecurity, poverty, and family reunification are the main drivers of migration in the Americas. According to the World Migration Data Portal, of the total world population, 3.6% (280.6 million) is made up of international migrants.

And beyond the numbers, we must always remember that behind the figures are the faces and people who migrate: men, women, and children who live real "odyssey" in their movements, and who often face even greater difficulties once they do arrive at the destination countries.

Even just by providing some time and space for young people to have fun and play can make all the difference in their lives!

Faced with this situation, the Salesian Social America Network (RASS) - the Network of Salesian social works and services for children, adolescents, and young people at risk of social exclusion in America - present in 18 Provinces and 22 countries of the region, with operational headquarters in Quito, Ecuador - responded with assistance programs for children, adolescents, young people, and migrant families, which benefit approximately 3,310 migrants every day.

Below, just a few examples from the Network Provinces:

  • Mexico: between 800 and 1,000 people are assisted daily, offering them food, medical care, shelter and legal assistance.
  • Central America: Food, accommodation and legal advice are provided to 1,500 people every day, in addition to working with 40 dependent refugees.
  • Peru: a shelter and a training program for 60 young Venezuelans have been set up.
  • Ecuador: during the pandemic, canteens were opened serving 80 Venezuelan families living on the street every day.
  • Colombia: There are comprehensive assistance programs for more than 700 members of migrant families.
  • Eastern United States and Canada: a program focused on school support activities and the good use of free time is active, where more than 60% of the 2,000 young people who participate each year are migrants.
  • Chile: Work is being done to restore the violated rights of 30 immigrant families, especially women with dependent children.

Masks on and providing food for those whom need it most has become one of the most enduring and endearing images of the worldwide Salesian reponse to COVID-19.

This year, the theme that Pope Francis proposes for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees is: "Towards an ever greater 'we'", and it invites us to work in defense of the rights of those who migrate. The ministry that RASS carries out, as a network of Salesian works and in collaboration with governments, international institutions and NGOs, tries to do just that and is summarized in 4 verbs: to welcome, protect, promote and integrate.


This story originally appeared in ANS