As the humanitarian crisis continues to escalate along the U.S. southern border, Save the Children Trustee and actress Jennifer Garner, visited Save the Children’s newly opened programs in New Mexico, which are helping migrant children and families once they have been released from U.S. government detention centers.
Save the Children is running Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) in two transit centers so that kids have a safe place to play and begin to recover from the trauma they have experienced. Trained volunteers read, play music and do art projects with the children, while their parents can rest and prepare to travel on to their sponsor family. Some families have walked for 20 days straight from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in order to seek asylum in the United States.
Garner visited Save the Children’s CFS at the transit center in Deming, New Mexico, on June 12, 2019. To date, 7,000 people have been helped by volunteers and municipal employees from Deming, a town of 11,000. Families normally spend two to three days at the transit center before volunteers help them prepare to travel on with clean clothes, snacks, and toys for the children.
“One of the mothers I met had carried her 13-year-old paraplegic daughter on her back for 17 days straight to get to the border,” Garner said. “She was determined to find a safer future for her child, but no mother should be forced to go through what she did. She was being treated with care and kindness at the transit shelter and I hope that continues as she continues her journey toward a better life.”
More than 500,000 women, men and children have crossed the border since the start of 2019 seeking asylum from violence and trying to escape extreme poverty and conflict.
“We remain deeply concerned about the treatment and well-being of children on the move and those displaced due to circumstances outside of their control,” Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children, said. "Migrants, and children in particular, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and to have their human rights upheld.
“Our Child Friendly Spaces give children a safe place to play and be a kid again. We also urge the Administration to uphold and provide for the protection of all vulnerable children.”
In addition to providing Child Friendly Spaces, Save the Children is working to expand its programming to include distribution of hygiene kits and other emergency items. The global humanitarian organization is also committed to addressing the root causes of the crisis. Building on decades of work supporting children in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, Save the Children is expanding and strengthening programs focused on protection, education and peace-building.