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Examples of small group homes in Mexico

This video shows examples of small group homes that have been developed for unaccompanied and separated children.
Well, my name is Roberto Guerrero Reyes and I am the Programme Director in Casa Alianza. Casa Alianza has been working in Mexico City for 30 years. It started because of the necessity of helping out children who were living on the streets, trying to take them away from that situation. Now talking about the importance to work with migrant (refugee) children, is a matter of rights. They leave their countries, their families, to go on an “adventure” which they are completely on their own. And when they are on their own, other feelings arise, like solitude, sadness, a complete hopelessness. That is when they feel they need a safe and dignified place to stay.
A place where they can develop and they can be reinstated as a person again, not just as a statistic. They should be able to exercise their rights. Casa Alianza wants those young people to have the right to a decent life. That in the future, they can have a job or a family themselves here in Mexico or if they are granted refugee status, in the future they can apply for their families to join them. That is what we do here. We show them that they come from different cultures but that now they don’t need to fight or run. What they need to do now is stay in this safe place.
Here there is nobody that is going to hurt you, on the contrary, here we want to be with you, we want to help you to develop and move forward in a less painful way. In this house - it has three floors - we have lots of activities and spaces for eating or for recreation, the sleeping areas. The best part is the recreational area where they can have fun. They have a TV and they have an Xbox. It’s like going back to their childhood. This house is a safe place where they can have fun. Then it is harder for them to take responsibility for the household chores, but it also makes them feel more at home, like they own the house.
The house is large so we can accommodate different social services like therapy, the nurse, social work… So we can have the emotional safe space for them but also, on the other side of the coin all the administrative services, that is required in these cases. My name is Abraham Cárdenas Vadillo. I’m the Director here at the Colibri residence for unaccompanied or separated minors seeking asylum. I believe it’s very important to have a certain number. For example, for us, the ideal to be able to provide proper care is 15 children, girls or boys, it doesn’t matter, but in order to provide them with the personalised care we offer.
If we had a larger number, I think giving this support would be more difficult. It would not be as personalised. Because we don’t exceed these numbers, we can provide the care and guarantee that… all the activities we carry out take into account each of the children. Well, the importance of having an open door model, I believe is not to frustrate the users. Whether it’s the time they will spend in the residence, this helps so that they don’t… don’t become too stressed, because by doing activities outside they no longer see it as a detention or as if it were a prison. They go out to do different activities, during the day or the evening, or on the weekends.
I think that’s the important thing, that they don’t see it as a prison, but see it as what it is, as a home. My name is Dulce María Kemparra, I’m the Operational Assistant Director here at Colibri residence/shelter for unaccompanied or separated minors seeking asylum. Creating a family-like environment is very important for us Precisely because they come from a hostile environment, where they have lost faith, where they have lost their belief that there are people who can support them or people who will give them something in exchange. We… it is very important that they feel above all, safe to be able to cover those needs, both emotional as well as physical and health-related.
So, that environment of trust for us, is fundamental. In fact, we run a programme in three stages. The first stage is crucial, the welcome/reception. This is when we get to know the children, their emotions, their needs, covering these basic needs, from their health, physical and mental, and a healthy development. But during this time again, sorry for repeating myself with this idea, the trust we can build with them is crucial. Because from that’s where we start. Getting to know them. Receiving them, in order to establish a life plan according to their particular needs.
At Colibri we have one objective: for the minors to really receive the acceptance and comprehensive care stated by law. The welcome/reception is exactly that, what we referred to earlier. Covering their basic needs, health, physical…. then comes trust, interaction with staff, with the team at Colibri, which is a multidisciplinary team… for the whole team to be able to have contact with the child, give them time, space, so they can relax and feel safe to open emotionally, in the corresponding area of expertise. That’s when the second stage starts, once we get to know the person’s weaknesses, but also their strength, working the second stage, which some with education… an education that also aims towards progressive autonomy.
The project at Colibri is not have the children here at a certain point in time, permanently and forever. It’s something temporary, supporting them during their stay,, and also being able to support them in the development of their abilities. This is what the second stage is about. The third stage is an independent life…

In this video we see examples of two small group homes in Mexico, Casa Alianza and Casa Colibrí. Those who live in these two homes arrived in Mexico as unaccompanied children. Albergue Colibrí and Casa Alianza are ordinary houses in ordinary streets situated in two different cities of Mexico. Some of the children are still in transit, others are hoping to remain in Mexico, while some children are hoping to return home and be reunified with their family. The professional teams that support the children are working to create a family environment.

In this video you will hear from Roberto Guerrerro Reyes, Programme Director of the small group home Casa Alianza, speak about the importance of creating a family environment for the unaccompanied children who stay with them. We also hear from Abraham Cárdenas Vadillo, Director of the small group home Albergue Colibrí, and Dulce María Kemparra, the Operational Assistant Director of the same home. Abraham will tell us about the importance of only having a small number of children in a small group home at any given time. Dulce explains how important it is to create an environment in which children feel cared for and safe.

These two examples of small group homes are now providing a model of family-like care that the Government of Mexico are encouraging other regional authorities across the country to reproduce. We will hear more about the ‘open door’ policy of these two small group homes in Week 5 of the course.

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Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

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