Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario

People Who Help


At the María Auxiliadora Church near Orizaba, Mexico, priest Salamón Lemus Lemus allows hundreds of migrants to sleep and eat inside the church. Over his lifetime, the priest saved $37,500 for his retirement. When he was 63 years old, he quietly donated the entire amount to buy land to build a migrant shelter.


Francisca Aguirre Juárez barely has enough to feed her own children. But four times a day, whenever the train rolls by near her home, she runs out to the tracks. She throws migrants, who often haven't eaten in days whatever she has: water, apples, or sandwiches stuffed with beans.


Francisca Aguirre Juárez allows tired migrants to sleep in her one-room home. In two years, 80 migrants have slept in her home, which is so cramped that three beds are shoved together.


In the Mexican state of Veracruz, María del Carmen Ortega García and her husband allowed a 20 year old Honduran to stay in their home for 9 months for free while he worked and saved to continue his journey. Their own 18 year old son disappeared when he attempted to enter the U.S. illegally in 1995.


In Mexico's southernmost state of Chiapas, Olga Sánchez Martínez operates the Shelter of Jesus the Good Shepherd for migrants injured by the trains. She works for free, seven days a week, and tries to raise money to provide them with medicine and prosthesis for lost limbs.


At the Parroquia San José in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, Father Leonardo López Guajardo uses a rickety blue bike to pick up donated food and clothing for migrants. The humble priest uses the bike instead of a car and says: "Either we are with the poor, or we are not. God teaches us to most help the poor." To him, the people most in need in his city are migrants.


On the Day of the Dead in 2003, Father Leonardo López Guajardo says mass at the Nuevo Laredo cemetery. He also led a prayer for migrants buried in a common grave.