The following are a few examples of the lives of youth who are served by the YMCA Homes. These youth try to enter the U.S. looking for better economic opportunities and/or to join parents, siblings and relatives. Many end up going through horrific border crossing experiences filled with exploitation and tragedy. Most arrive at the YMCA Homes mentally and physically traumatized.Mario Montes de Oca
From Ecatepec, State of Mexico
My name is Mario; I’m from the Estate of Mexico. I was born in March 23 1992. My parents were divorced and my dad once told me that my mom lives in Baja California, maybe in Tijuana or Rosarito. Since their divorce, my grandmother took care of me. Since then I talk to my dad once in a while over the phone, but never with my mom.
My friend and I decided to try to cross to the U.S. and find some work. When we arrived to Tijuana, we had no place to stay. We asked for help at the salvation Army shelter and we stayed there for 2 nights. Then, we decided to cross. Like many others, we got arrested when trying to cross through the mountains. As my friend was older, we got separated and I was interviewed by many people and got sent to the Casa YMCA.
During my stay here at the Casa YMCA, I have been trying to help Mari (YMCA staff in charge of the Home) in whatever she needs. She is very kind and always tries to help me to remember any address or phone number. I hope soon I will be able to remember them. Today it will be my first day at work in a carwash. I wish I could find my friend so we can both be together and maybe settle here in Tijuana. But for now, I know that my home is the Casa YMCA and even if Mari is not my family, she takes care of me and other guys that come in the same situation as me.
YMCA HOMES FOR MIGRANT YOUTH
Annual Report 2008, Mexican Federation of YMCAs