On December 14th, CWS celebrated with local partner, ABBA House A.C., the signing of a multi-party agreement to guarantee the rights of migrants with disabilities.
During their journey through Mexico, many migrants ride the train network, known as “la bestia”, (the Beast). Each year hundreds of migrants are injured or killed in accidents on the train and dozens are maimed by the train’s wheels. Those who survive need psychological and physical therapy and in many cases prosthetics. ABBA House is the only shelter in Mexico that is handicap accessible and has rehabilitation services.
The multi-party agreement creates a care plan for migrants who are injured during their travels while in Mexico. UNHCR will work to refer injured migrants needing care services to the Secretary of Migration who will then coordinate care with ABBA House and INGUDIS (The Guanajuato Institute for People with Disabilities). This is a significant recognition of the quality of services that ABBA House provides.
Giovanni Lepri, a Representative of UNHCR in Mexico, said during the event, “What’s happening here today is a model that the world needs to see. Civil society, local and national government institutions, and UNHCR are working together to ensure that all people in forced migration have the tools they need to be active and productive members of society.” He continued, “We all have something to contribute and people with disabilities want to contribute as well and they can when their specific needs are met.”
The agreement is part of a campaign by UNHCR in Mexico called “Tu Si Puedes” (Yes, you can) that works to make sure that the diverse needs of all people in forced migration are met. Part of this goal is working with partners like ABBA House who have specialized expertise.
ABBA House has a professional team that includes a psychologist, a medic, and a care team. They provide a handicap-accessible shelter and people are fitted with prosthetics and participate in months of physical therapy. They also provide a sense of community and support as people heal from the emotional trauma of their injuries and surgeries.
One person staying at ABBA House shared, “I was traveling on la bestia when suddenly I was attacked by two men. I was shot three times in the leg. I give thanks to God because I survived, but my first thought when they amputated my leg was, ‘now everyone is going to call me “roto” (broken).’ I headed North because I wanted to help my family but my fear became, ‘I am just going to be a burden’. ABBA House has given me back a sense of purpose. I can walk again with my prosthesis. I see now that I still have something that I can give to my family.”
Pastor Ignacio Martinez, the Director of ABBA House, said of the newly signed agreement, “We are excited to have this opening here in Guanajuato where we can bring together so many different actors. The goal is to make sure that people with disabilities can fully enjoy the same rights and opportunities as any other migrant or refugee in Mexico.”
CWS is proud to support the determined work of ABBA House to meet the needs of all people and their vision of inclusive services for all migrants.
Alex Morse is CWS’ Deputy Regional Director of Latin America and the Caribbean.