A group of women volunteers in the southern Mexican state of Veracruz are determined to provide humanitarian assistance and hope to migrants who pass through every day on trains en route to the United States.
Known as Las Patronas, the charitable organisation made up of women has been handing out food and water for over 20 years to Central American migrants who head north – hoping for jobs and better lives – on La Bestia (The Beast) as the freight trains are known. Las Patronas volunteers stand along the train route and toss bags of food and water to Central Americans hanging on to the moving vehicle, desperate to reach their destination, the US, where they hope they will find a better life.
The Patronas work in shifts, preparing thirty kilos of donated food every day for the hungry migrants. At times they also offer shelter, a brief reprieve in the middle of a dangerous journey through unsafe stretches of Mexico.
"People think the migrants are not to be trusted, but they are just people seeking a better life for themselves and their families." says Norma Romero, one of the founders of Las Patronas.
"They deserve to be treated with respect, and we do everything we can to help them."
They have received a number of humanitarian awards, but Las Patronas say their daily mission would continue even without the recognition. Even as the tide turns against immigrants in the US and possibly in their home country Mexico.
TRT World’s Alasdair Baverstock reports from Veracruz.