The number of immigrants and immigrant families seeking asylum has reached record highs. Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security began busing and flying immigrants from areas on the border where they enter the United States to other towns deemed able to accommodate the overflowing populations.
“Our mission has always been to help people in need, and right now there is a huge need within our own country’s borders,” Kim Carroll, HHI CEO, said. “While we have not been able to provide hygiene items to every detention facility, we are helping thousands of people who have nothing, and we will not stop working to bring health to these people who desperately need it right now.”
In July, members of our disaster response team traveled to towns in Texas and southern New Mexico to meet with partners, including Save the Children and Catholic Charities, and other local community leaders to determine additional ways to provide assistance and deliver aid to asylum seekers who had been processed through Customs and Border Patrol and were on their ways to their U.S. sponsors. The health needs of the children and families in the temporary transit centers were immense.
We first began addressing this issue in 2014 with the onset of the unaccompanied minor crisis. initially worked the National Latino Evangelical Coalition as they were setting up housing facilities for unaccompanied minors in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Arizona and Texas.
We continued our work by providing hygiene kits, blankets, medicines and medical supplies to Save the Children and Catholic Charities.
The summer of 2014 saw a surge of unaccompanied children at the US’s southern border. Most of these children had traveled from Central American countries like Honduras and Guatemala. Many were fleeing violence, poverty, hunger. Don’t forget about them. We haven’t.
Photo by Jude Joffe-Block/Fronteras Desk
Many of the children who came across the border remain in facilities across the US as they await disposition of their individual cases. On their own, or sent by families, they arrived seeking connections with families already in the states, all seeking something better. The increased number of children taxed the border control systems, forcing many into makeshift holding facilities and then into shelters across the country. In August we shipped hundreds of blankets and hygiene kits to children being temporarily housed in shelters in six states.
Recently we sent another large shipment, via our global partner FedEx, to a number of shelters that will begin housing children in February 2015 as they await their immigration hearings. The kids that will be housed in these shelters range in age from 7-17 and most are in their early teens.
Working with the Urban Strategies/National Latino Evangelical Coalition we delivered medical supplies to nine shelters in five states. We learned that the greatest needs are for wound care, chicken pox treatment and pain relief. Thanks to the partnerships we’ve developed with medical supply and pharmaceutical donors we’ve been able to meet the needs of the shelters and the care of the children. Examples of the supplies we shipped: sunscreen, tape, gauze, OTC meds from Johnson & Johnson; Alcohol swabs from BD; thermometers and covers from Welch Allyn; and ointment from Calmoseptine.
Heart to Heart International will continue to help as many of these shelters as we can. You can help us do this.
Support our efforts to deliver care to these children. Help us help them.
If you’re familiar with Heart to Heart International, you know that above all, we are committed to helping those in need.
This is why we’ve been working to provide aid for many of the children that for whatever reason have come across our nation’s borders from Central America in recent months.
They’re children. And they need the care HHI can help to provide.
While the ‘surge’ of unaccompanied minors and families crossing the border has substantially reduced in recent weeks, and the news coverage has ‘moved on’, there are still thousands of children being housed in a variety of facilities in states across the country, as they await the disposition of their status in the US.
In recent days, utilizing our partnership with FedEx, we’ve sent several hundred hygiene kits and blanket kits to be distributed to children in seven states. Our largest shipment is heading to a facility in Texas – two pallets filled with J&J Hygiene Kits, assembled by volunteers at our Global Distribution Center (GDC).
We’ve also sent a dozen smaller shipments of the Hygiene Kits along with J&J One Child, One Blanket Kits, which are also assembled by volunteers at the GDC. These have gone to shelters in six other states: California, Illinois, New York, Florida, Arizona and Colorado. And once they arrive, these kits will go directly into the hands of a child in need so they can wash and keep clean, and wrap up in a warm blanket as they wait to learn where they’ll go next.