Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Oblate Community and Albergue Las Memories

Last Wednesday, October 5th, Eric and I got up early and walked to a neighboring colonia to attend mass with one of the Oblate priests in the area.  Fr. Nicholas Harding was leaving for a conference that morning, but invited us to mass that morning and on some errands he had to run. 

The Oblate community has a house in the neighborhood of La Morita, where they have a clinic, a community center, a food shelf, and are currently building a school for children with disabilities. We rode around with Fr. Nico as he delivered food to people living in Las Vias, one of the poorest community in Tijuana.  He showed us the sad conditions of their houses, the stolen electrical wires, and on the little tour we met some very kind families.

The Parish of the Oblate community

The Oblate community clinic.  Amazing solar panels!

Las Vias

All the pirated electricity lines. Very dangerous!

We were only able to spend a little time with Fr. Nicholas, but it was a side of Tijuana we were very priviledged to see.  After that, we just walked down the street to another organizaiton doing great work, the Albergue Las Memories, a home for people with HIV.

We spoke with Sergio Borrego at Albergue Las Memorias and he gave us an incredible tour and history of the work.  They started in 1999 and they are a home for men, women and children who have HIV.  Currently, they are providing housing to 65 people--13 women, 4 children and the rest men.  They provide food, clothing, and housing, like most shelters, but more importantly they provide guidance and support to those recently diagnosed or coming to terms with the HIV diagnosis.

Sergio shared that 98% of the guests at the house came in with addictions to drugs and/or alcohol.  So, the first step for most is getting clean.  Then, the house helps people get doctor´s appointments and medication.  There were signs all over the house saying that the most important time of day is when you take your meds!  And the medications are so expensive!  But they have built tons of relationships and are able to provide everyone in their house with HIV meds.

The house recieves some funding from the goverment, but they also have many little projects to help keep them afloat: they have a community pharmacy, they build doghouses and have a constructions crew, and they also make crafts to sell.  Anyone who helps generate income for the house in these endeavors keeps 50% of the money earned.

Almost 70% of the guests in the house are migrants--some from other countries, some from other states in Mexico, many who have been deported from the United States.  They are often referred to Albergue Las Memorias from the hospital, where they promise to house people, if the hospital will attend them at appointments. Guests are allowed to stay whatever time they need to accept and understand their diagnosis and many move back out into the community while many stay until their death.

Albergue Las Memorias - Live with Dignity

Women showing the beautiful jewelry they made to sell.

The most imporant time of day is when you take your medicine!
 The Albergue Las Memorias was a really nice place to visit, and as I told Sergio, it appears to be more of a home than a shelter, to which he replied that they are one, big family.


  1. Your blogs have been so moving. I really appreciate how much you're sharing with us. Love!

  2. In regards to Disclaimer #3 in the original post, nice person-first language!