Women-led engineering company improves living conditions for migrant asylum seekers in Reynosa camp

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HIDALGO, Texas (Border report) – The small square in downtown Reynosa, a city ravaged by crime, is not a place to live for some 2,500 asylum seekers, said engineer Erin Hughes, whose non-profit humanitarian association lucrative works to help migrants.

Erin Hughes, co-founder of the nonprofit Solidarity Engineering, speaks on Tuesday, November 30, 2021 about their efforts to provide water and shelter for migrants in Reynosa, Mexico, just above the McAllen International Bridge -Hidalgo-Reynosa. (Sandra Sanchez / Border Report)

Hughes is a co-founder of Solidarity Engineering, a group of women-led engineers who cross South Texas to Reynosa three times a week to improve conditions there. And on Giving Tuesday, they shared with Border Report how tough conditions are in the hope that they will receive donations so they can better help migrants.

“The current conditions in the square are atrocious. These people live under tarpaulins and in tents on top of each other. Every time it rains it becomes an inaccessible muddy mess. Right now we are providing the water and we are helping to provide the porta pots, but we are very limited in our funding, ”Hughes told Border Report Tuesday at the McAllen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge base which leads from McAllen, Texas, across the border to the migrant camp.

A few feet above the bridge, Hughes and his colleagues are helping provide drinking water filtration systems and portable toilets for migrants waiting to seek asylum in the United States.

Several infrastructure projects underway by Solidarity Engineering in Reynosa, Mexico. (Photos by Solidarity Engineering)

They have also built roofs to collect rainwater at the nearby Senda de Vida migrant shelter, which itself has overcapacity. The facility is unable to meet water needs, and volunteers help open additional water pipes and connect to a water well so migrants can wash their clothes and take showers .

The shelter was designed for 300 people, but now has more than 1,000 migrants living there, Hughes said.

Hughes said The objective of Solidarity Engineering is to work with other nonprofits – such as Team Brownsville, Doctors Without Borders, the Sidewalk School for Asylum Seekers, Global Response Management and Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley – to improve the standard of living of migrants in the south from the border.

“We are catching up with just about all the facilities needed to live there to an acceptable standard of living,” said Hughes.

Volunteers and employees of Solidarity Engineering help build infrastructure and provide clean and bathing water to migrants in Reynosa, Mexico. (Photos by Solidarity Engineering)

At just 32 years old, Hughes moved from Philadelphia to help found the business and launch this humanitarian effort. Its co-founders are Chloe Rastatter, of Colorado, and Christa Cook, of Dallas.

Together they lead this group of engineers to oversee many projects. But Hughes says funds are tight.

“If you can donate it can really make a difference. Solidarity Engineering did a great job of learning how to stretch a dollar, ”said Hughes.

Facebook matches donations on Giving Tuesday, a global day to raise the coffers of nonprofits. And that could help them provide much more comfort to migrants, many of whom are pregnant women and young children from Central America, she said.

“We basically want to help provide water, sanitation, hygiene and just help asylum seekers and their living conditions and improve their lives a little bit,” she said. “There are families with young children. There are single women without protection.

The group formed a year ago and first worked in the Matamoros migrant camp in Mexico, about 90 kilometers east of Reynosa. When most of these migrants were paroled and allowed to enter the United States and the camp was dissolved, hundreds of migrants began to live on the streets of Reynosa. And that’s when Solidarity Engineering started crossing from McAllen to Reynosa to help.

At first, the migrants had neither water nor toilets. There are now 30 porta jars in the square. But Hughes says that’s not enough for 2,500 people. And there are no bathing facilities.

Several other nonprofits, such as Team Brownsville and the Sidewalk School, have shared with Border Report the contributions Solidarity Engineering has made to migrants this year, despite a wave of COVID-19 that hit the camp hard in the summer. latest.

Hughes said they were there for the long haul as long as the families stayed in the place.

“If you want to help refugees lead a little more dignified life when they are forced to remain in extremely dangerous and extremely horrific conditions, then consider making a donation,” she said.

Below is a list of non-profit organizations that also help migrants in Reynosa and links to their websites:

Sandra Sanchez can be contacted at [email protected]


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