The children that I had the opportunity of meeting at La Roca De Salvacion Shelter and at Moviemento Shelter in Tijuana have either been deported or are now victims of the M.P.P. program and have no where to go. Their families have no papers since they have fled Nicaragua and Guatemala. And for those children whose parents have been deported by the U.S., or have families they were hoping to connect with these children but cant find them, because the children are circulated throughout centers in Tijuana.
Despite the conditions that are very challenging, in crammed and harsh living quarters, the story I am telling is one of a remarkable triumph of the human spirit. The children I photographed at La Roca Salvacion taught me what resilience looks like. They were bristling with curiosity to learn. They filled my heart watching their joy of feeling like they were in real school. The School Box Program gives them this.
Many of these refugees do not feel safe. Some of these mothers feel threatened by gang lords who are looking for them, or because there is a lack of infrastructure in place in Tijuana to keep asylum seekers safe.
Yet despite the obstacles that these young children face many are filled with a hunger for life and a curiosity for education. This community of youngsters are linked by the commonality of misfortune that has placed them together. I found them open- hearted, excited with their studies, and kind to each other. There are one or two young boys that seemed very distant and deeply troubled by what they’ve been through. And yet every one of these children were heartily participating and cooperative in the class. The School Box Project happens at La Roca De Salvacion three times a week. Their appreciation is demonstrated with the respect and eagerness they show their teacher, Andrea Ricon.
I could see hope in the faces of these children, a hope that has not yet been extinguished by the trauma that has accompanied them on their journey to seek a new life. The children may no longer be in our news cycle but these young lives must not be forgotten.