Navigating Next Steps at the U.S.‑Mexico Border
Providing radical hospitality, human-worthy services and building meaningful community at Casa de la Misericordia in Nogales, Mexico
Families are struggling at the U.S.–Mexico border. People are fleeing gang and drug violence at home, they’ve lost a vision for a future. Now, they want nothing more than to build a meaningful life for themselves, and for their children.
The humanitarian crisis at the border is complicated. But when we look into the faces of the children, women, and men caught in the middle of it all, one thing is clear—real, sacred, human beings need our help. And what they need, in this moment, are those who have an abundance of empathy. Who can see the people through the politics and do what’s possible.
Will you support families seeking safe haven?
A Little Piece of Home (Pedacito de la Tierra)
We believe there is a simple human justice in the chance to build a life. Migrant families have been on a tough journey, and what they yearn for is a little piece of home to reconnect with their dreams, to feel whole again.
With this idea in hand, we teamed up with a powerhouse group of partners at the U.S./Mexico border, transforming existing migrant shelters into human-centered, meaningful spaces to gather, heal, and support one another. Together with Burners without Borders and best-in-class industry leaders like Professor Ronald ‘RAEL’ Rael, Lina Lyte Plioplyte, Kai Schoenhals, Charles Michel, and Leigh Glynn-Finnegan, Alight provided unprecedented hospitality and support to families looking to build a future. And through the Color Movement, with Catholic Sisters as one of our key partners, we've done more of what they do best—creating a place where vulnerable families can be surrounded by love and community; where they can live, plan, and dream.
We’re scaling up what currently exists at border shelters to provide a range of human-worthy services, including socio-emotional support activities, workforce development training, and opportunities for solitude, joy, and community building. Transforming spaces with color and light, we’re building a more holistic environment that allows migrants to breathe, reflect, and build a new sense of community.
During the pandemic, we included a full COVID-19 prevention and response component to the space transformation of the shelters, ensuring that they were supplied with proper COVID-19 protective equipment, while also being able to continue welcoming new residents. With high-impact, culturally resonant COVID-19 public health messaging, shelter providers had the tools to distribute and educate throughout both their shelters and the larger, local community.
A group of kids playing soccer at Casa de la Misericordia in Nogales, Mexico
We’re helping migrant families do what they tell us they yearn for—to share their gifts with others and to give back to the places that host them, their neighbors. Through skills training on gardening and cooking, families can not only nourish themselves but feed local communities as well. Creating meaningful moments with neighbors while growing community and building food sovereignty all adds up to better piece of mind, and more resilience for the future.
Doing the Doable
For the last couple of years, one of the ways we got to know both migrants and providers at the border is through Changemakers 365, Alight’s initiative to do the doable. It’s allowed us to connect directly with people, sitting down with them and asking what’s on their minds—what they need and what might make a difference in their lives. And since 2018, we’ve implemented over 50 ideas that have met people where they’re at, giving both existing service providers and families the little extra something they need to keep shelters stocked, to have a brighter day, to feel a little more equipped for the challenges ahead.
The Road Ahead
Shifting policy has left families in flux, with new opportunities and challenges. Alight is at the border in El Paso & Juarez leveraging long-standing relationships with the Catholic Sisters and other local organizations to assess short term and long term needs of the displaced. We are implementing Quick Impact Projects, as we did on border of Poland & Ukraine, to provide immediate humanitarian aid. We partner with local organizations to provide shelter, protection, and necessities. Alight is responding to this situation of mass displacement by doing the doable and supporting the children, women, and men caught in the middle of it all. We will continue to listen to the displaced and explore opportunities to create safe, warm welcomes.
PEDACITO DE LA TIERRA: Press
- Press Release
Alight, Burning Man Community, Catholic Sisters, Designers and Filmmakers Unite to Bring Radical Hospitality Along the U.S./Mexico Border
- Press Release
Alight and International Creatives Host Virtual Premiere of Humanitarian Film Bringing a Little Piece of Home to the Kitchen Table
- Artnet News
Designer Ron Rael’s Seesaws at the Border Captured the World’s Imagination. Now He’s Back in Mexico With an Ambitious New Project
- Chicago Indie Film Awards
Pedacito De La Tierra recognized with Honorable Mention at Chicago Indie Film Awards
Mexico: Related Information
Transforming shelters with a team of unlikely co-creators on the U.S./Mexico BorderThis past fall, a group of partners teamed up on the U.S./Mexico border, united by a common belief...that everyone needs a safe space, to nourish, to rest, to dream, to be. Everyone deserves un Pedacito de la Tierra. Read More
Join us to virtually cross borders, connect communities, and share our dreams as we break bread together.
On Saturday, February 6, 2021, Burners Without Borders and Alight are kicking off, Pedacito de la Tierra Read More
Seeing people, not politics - and doing the doable for families.Families are struggling on the U.S. - Mexico border. You’ve heard the stories. People are fleeing gang and drug violence at home, and they want nothing more than to build a meaningful life for themselves and their children. Put simply, they want a chance at a future. (more…)
"If we can come together and offer a beacon of hope, it’s possible to create the feeling of home that migrants need to feel whole again.”
– Annie Nolte-Henning, Director of the Americas