Celebrating Children’s Day at the US Mexico Border

It’s National Children’s Day in Mexico, a time to celebrate children and childhood. 

The holiday’s origins are rooted in safeguarding vulnerable children affected by WWI. Later, the UN expanded Children’s Day to protect children working long hours in dangerous conditions and to encourage more access to education.

Nowadays, parents and teachers make children feel special on National Children’s Day. But, for displaced families staying near the US Mexico border, celebrating Children’s Day is not that easy. Thousands of vulnerable people are stranded in Juarez after being expelled by the US under Title 42 or are waiting to apply for asylum with the unreliable CPB One app. As a result, shelters are overcrowded, as are the neighborhoods around them, which makes supplying relief  aid more difficult.

Migrant parents struggle to provide food for their children and meet their basic needs even when they are lucky enough to find space in a shelter. Without school to attend or a regular routine to follow, kids lack a sense of normality. The recent fire, which claimed 41 lives, adds to everyone’s sense of unease, and xenophobia and racism are unfortunately increasing. The local community is also vulnerable, made so by cartel kidnappings and violence.

That’s why our community of peacemakers partnered with two shelters we support to bring candy bags, pizza, and a photo booth to 100 displaced children staying at two shelters near the US Mexico border. We held an artisanal ice cream workshop with fresh seasonal fruit so the kids could make their favorite dessert flavors. We painted faces and played games with the kids to celebrate them. The kids could take photos in the booth and have a keepsake of this special day. By including migrant children in a Mexican tradition, we hoped migrant children felt welcome. Then, we went into the local community to do it again and celebrated 50 neighborhood kids whose lives are not easy. 

We were especially excited about the photo booth’s impact on children. Printed photos have positive psychological and physical effects on family ties and how a person remembers life’s key moments. People spend more time looking at printed photos, taking in and commenting on details, than they do digital images. In turn, they become closer as they share their feelings about the lived experience.

Thanks to our community of peacemakers for creating great childhood memories and a sense of belonging for kids near the US Mexico border on Mexico’s National Children’s Day.