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May 21, 2018

Refugee mother finds hope and opportunity in Mexico

Last week, USA for UNHCR’s Shion Ishikura traveled to Mexico and saw firsthand how donations to USA for UNHCR are making a direct impact on the lives of people fleeing violence in Central America’s Northern Triangle. Here, she recounts her meeting with Mia*, who fled to Mexico to save her children.

Beaming from ear to ear, Mia was delighted to share how she was able to set up her own beauty salon with assistance from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. A single mother of four from El Salvador, Mia and her children were forced to flee their home when local gangs began threatening her children with forced recruitment.

The family found safety and a chance to restart their lives in the Chiapas state of southern Mexico. Mia enrolled in UNHCR vocational training courses and received a $1,000 grant to help her start a small business. She used the grant to buy furniture and equipment for her beauty salon as well as materials for styling and cutting.

In less than two years, Mia was able to change the trajectory of her life, while contributing to her new community -- and she is not done.

“I am ready to help others because I was helped so much. I want to give those blessings back and eventually create an organization that benefits vulnerable people. That is my dream.”



Since 2014, Mexico has experienced an incredible 580 percent increase in asylum claims from those fleeing violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

In addition to assisting refugees like Mia in starting their own small businesses, UNHCR supports other initiatives that help refugees find employment in the industrial market where Mexico currently has a labor shortage.

A 2017 UNHCR project helped more than 200 refugees find jobs in Mexico’s “Industrial Corridor.” Ninety-two percent of people participating in the program report being formally employed and 60 percent of refugees rose out of poverty within a year. Based on the early success of this initiative, UNHCR aims to expand the project to help more than 2,000 refugees in 2018.

With support from UNHCR, refugees like Mia are not only finding safety, but also an opportunity to build a safer future. Vocational training and job placement programs are crucial for the successful integration of refugees in Mexico – jobs allows refugees to become self-sufficient and make meaningful contributions to their host communities.

Here’s how you can help…

The UN Refugee Agency relies on people like you so that Mia and her family receive the help they need to restart their lives. Please become a monthly donor. Your strong and steady support will help our world's most vulnerable people 365 days a year. Join your fellow caring Americans by making your first gift today.

*Name changed for protection reasons