With the humbling, generous funding of Rotary International clubs in the United States and Tijuana, One Story at a Time is thrilled to announce our Resilience Program initiative. This initial two-month pilot is informed by one of our central missions: to positively impact the lives of refugees and displaced women and children in Tijuana’s refugee shelters and in the area’s most vulnerable, disadvantaged communities.
The keystone of this program is the understanding that migrant families cannot learn basic resilience skills until they have processed their trauma. We offer resilience tools and skills-building support. The goal? Helping them regain trust, self-sufficiency, and transition to new living or cultural environments, where they might settle and thrive as families and as active members of their communities.
HOW WE APPROACH THE ISSUES
Our curriculum includes:
Literacy in math, reading, and writing (adults and children)
Job skills (adults) and play skills (children)
Trauma healing (Emotional Freedom Technique, journaling, art therapy, music, etc.)
Healthy body and mind (healthy eating, cooking, gardening, meditation, yoga, music)
Cultural integration, dignity, and diversity (art projects, education about original cultures)
Safety (personal, family and business).
Included with the Resilience Program curriculum: A therapist/psychologist; Daycare for infants; children’s group support; breakfast and lunch; and a 300-peso stipend for each day in attendance. Those who complete the eight-week pilot session will be recognized as “graduates” and receive a “Certificate of Increased Resilience” along with a 1,000-peso bonus.
At the conclusion of the pilot program, our plans include adding a Children’s Resilience Program to this for kids who have been orphaned or separated from their families and exploited, due to the appalling immigration situation on the border.
UPDATE: September 2020
We are so excited to be working with Rev. Mary Moreno Richardson in finding ways to incorporate The Guadalupe Art Program into our work in the shelters. Watch for updates on this.
The vast majority of those gathered at our southern border are there because of the desire and, more urgently, the need for a better life or even to sustain life itself.
While each individual and family story is different, the threats of — and actual — bodily harm that prompted them to flee all too often result in lingering trauma to these displaced people.
Quite simply: these people have come from so much trauma, and there are not enough mental health professionals to help deal with that trauma.
One Story at a Time partners with individuals, organizations, and foundations like the International Community Foundation, which inspire meaningful giving. They provide logistics, support, and strategy to join with other people and foundations for greater impact. Our approach is to assist with the development of inner resilience.
We are funding the teaching and the practice of yoga, tai chi, art therapy, and mindfulness practices, helping people manage anxiety and PTSD and grief through movement and creative expression.
We now support two tutors. We are starting a school in the Agape shelter, for which we plan to provide chairs and an art teacher. We will continue to expand the tutoring and art instruction as we develop the programs.
Additionally, we contribute resources toward helping teach women to care for themselves with a new vocation. One result: through the Co-op Sewing Project and the help of Sister Esperanza and her Gardens of Mercy foundation, your donations have helped purchased several new sewing machines. (Click HERE to read more about the project.)
Through a concerted effort, displaced women in a cooperative are producing bags for sale and resale. The goal? A cottage industry that contributes toward their becoming self-sustaining.
From Linda: I usually bring harmonicas or recorders when I visit shelters, since I have found that those inexpensive instruments make a delightful gift for children and keep them happy for hours on end. One day, I handed out some recorders, and the children were delighting in the sound they could hear themselves make. One very poised little girl, Maria, shyly asked if she could play. Another girl handed her a ten-dollar green recorder, and Maria began to play the most beautiful music. People gathered around, delighted and entranced, forgetting their own troubles as they listened to her play. Later someone told me her story.
Maria had lived in El Salvador with her parents, who were both teachers, and brother. She was a flutist and had played for several years. In the evenings and on weekends, they all worked in the family business, which was a bakery that had been in the family for three generations. Several years ago, a gang moved into their town and began to demand protection money from the family. They paid it, as they were not given a choice, and each year the percentage rose considerably more than the year before. Finally, the gang demanded 50 percent, and the family was not able to both maintain the bakery and pay the protection money. The gang members burned down the bakery. Because Maria’s family went to the police, the entire family was placed on a hit list. Maria and her brother were awoken in the night and allowed to pack one small suitcase. They ran for their lives, forced to leave their families, pets, home, and community. There had been no room for Maria’s beloved flute.
I don’t know the wisest way to help families such as Maria’s find a new life. Do they come here? Do they go to Canada? Do they settle in Mexico? That is not in my domain of expertise. But as a human being, I do know that giving Maria a recorder may have helped her begin to find the resilience to manage the unimaginable loss, chaos, and grief she has experienced over the last year.
Soon after my own experience with Maria, I sent her a new flute.