Realized on assignment for the AVSI Foundation

One of the biggest challenges that Central American migrants are facing on their way to the United States border is the hidden dangers during their passage through Mexico: kidnappings, thefts and violence are a daily occurrence.

Thousands of people become victims of trafficking, a business for Mexican drug cartels and, sometimes, even for the authorities that instead of protecting migrants, take advantage of them. Despite this, since the early 2000s there has been a steady increase in migration, caused mainly by global and regional problems. Thus in 2003 the parish priest of the city of Oaxaca, Fernando Cruz Montez, decided to found the Center for the Orientation of Migrants (COMI), a non-profit organization that aims to improve the situation of Central American migrants crossing Mexico, by offering them humanitarian support, access to care, possibility of integration into the community and legal support. At the same time, in order to prevent people from being forced to sleep in the streets, in bus terminals or in parishes, in 2004 Father Montez decided to create the safe shelter of “Casa del Buen Samaritano”, to offer migrants passing by a decent accommodation. In this series of photographs, I decided to portray the people housed in the shelter in front of a wall painted by refugees and volunteers with crosses reporting the names of migrants who found shelter in the same facility and, after starting their journey to the US border, they disappeared. In their eyes the fear of those who do not know what will happen to themselves, the hope of those who seek a better future, the frustration of those who didn’t succeed. There are those who are determined to leave in order to reach the United States, those who adapted themselves and prefer to stay in Mexico, others who, aware of the dangers and of those who didn’t make it before them, have decided to return from whence they came. A microcosm that far from border walls, simply preserves their dignity as human beings. Wood carvings, murals and everyday objects reveal the transiency of their presence, but also the memory of their passage. Within the walls of the “Casa del Buen Samaritano”, in that limbo that separates them from the American dream.