Casa Tochan Turns One

Dear friends,

A year ago, we wrote to you happily announcing the inauguration of Casa Tochan, one of the Casa’s most exciting and important new projects. It was also one of the most ambitious – a shelter for migrants and refugees run by a coalition of four organizations without any outside funding. Now, one year later, we’re thrilled to be able to celebrate a successful year of critical humanitarian work at Tochan.

On Saturday, the friends, families, neighbors and guests of Tochan (which means “our house” in Nahuatl) gathered outside of its front door to celebrate the anniversary with local musicians, tasty traditional food from the migrants’ home countries, and a really big cake.

This year, Tochan has offered a warm home, food, medical and psychological services, cultural activities, and a stepping-stone toward a better life for 94 migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees, including 19 children.

Dylan's cake

Dylan’s cake

Dylan (name changed) is one of these people. He has shared his story with a number of groups taken by Casa to visit the shelter. “I left the country, Honduras, to find a better life and to help my family.” Yet on his way north he was kidnapped by Los Zetas, the infamous drug gang, and held hostage for 27 days. He found a way to Mexico City to denounce the crime and then to Tochan. “Tochan took care of us, gave us a place to sleep, food, everything, and was very supportive and continues to support me so far.” Now Dylan rents an apartment nearby and has started his own business with a friend he met in Tochan.

Saturday’s jubilant celebration stands in stark contrast to Dylan’s recent past, the gruesome reality of the migrant trail in Mexico, and the uphill struggle for migrants and refugees to settle in a new country. In 2012 alone, 22,000 migrants were reported kidnapped in Mexico. Tochan and Casa de los Amigos are two of the only options in Mexico City that support this vulnerable population–pockets of peace amidst rampant violence.

Would you make a donation to Casa de los Amigos today to help us do this important work?

As part of Tochan’s coordinating committee, we’ve painted, donated furniture, channeled guests and volunteers, volunteered ourselves, brought a dozen student and activist groups to visit, provided logistical support, found new donors, given money, offered advice, laughed, listened, shared stories and meals, written protocols, and debated rules and strategies.

And so far everything we’ve done at Tochan has been 100% volunteer. Tochan has no paid staff (even the house was donated). Thanks to generous donations from the Casa de los Amigos community last year, we have been able to dedicate ourselves to help strengthen Tochan.

Please click here to make a donation today.

Tochan is a migrant shelter, but over the last year it has become so much more. As we sang “Las Mañanitas” to Tochan on its first birthday, the community celebrated the shelter as a clear symbol of hope and possibility in the face of so much hardship. ¡Que viva Tochan!

In peace and friendship,
Hayley Hathaway and the Casa de los Amigos team