Mural at Casa de la Misericordia y de Todas las Naciones, a migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora.

Bridging the Border

July - August 2023 | Issue 13

Building Foundations for the Future: FESAC’s Border Region Education Programs

Fundación Empresariado Sonorense A.C. (FESAC) is a Sonoran Mexico nonprofit organization dedicated to community development and the expansion of educational opportunities for families in the borderland. FESAC Nogales is the chapter based in Nogales, Sonora.  It works closely with Border Community Alliance (BCA)––a U.S. nonprofit based in Tubac, Arizona––to bring resources, education and a safe and equitable future to the Nogales region.

BCA strongly stands with FESAC in lifting up local community by changing the narrative from charity to social investment.

In this Issue:

  • FESAC becomes a community partner agency with the Stanford University Haas Center for Public Service.

  • Meet the 2023 FESAC Interns.

  • Update on Casa de la Misericordia y de Todas las Naciones.

  • Thank you note to our recent donors.

This Bulletin as well as past issues will provide information about the innovative social investment projects FESAC has created and nurtured. Find out how you, your company, your foundation, or your family can become part of this dynamic international community development organization that is creating good news on the border. 

FESAC's New Community Partner

For 12 years, FESAC has provided a service-learning internship dedicated to strengthening a binational community of direct service organizations dedicated to bringing a safe, just and secure future to those coming to the border. This program has provided hundreds of students and community leaders with hands on experiences with leading Nogales NGOs. Moving forward, the internship program will be strengthened by close collaboration with our community partner agency: the Stanford University Haas Center for Public Service. The Haas Center provides invaluable financial support to selected FESAC interns–enabling them and FESAC to devote all our energies to serving border families and communities.

This year, with additional support from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University and the, previously mentioned, Stanford University Center on Human Right, FESAC recruited interns with interests in such areas as education and healthcare for families, social media management, fundraising, communications, and legal and educational services for asylum-seeking families. 

Meet the 2023 FESAC Interns

This summer, interns are stationed with FESAC affiliated NGOs that provide direct services to families with such issues as autism, Down syndrome, and hearing and mobility impairment. They are also working with organizations that provide voluntary after-school and summer activities, and shelters for migrant and asylum seeking families. The interns help create online information on the history, mission, services and impact of the organization. They also gather information on the issues and challenges each organization faces. This information, in both English and Spanish, will greatly assist the staff and board of each agency in scaling up services to meet the growing challenges facing under-resourced border NGOs. The material will also enable the NGO to reach regional and international donors and foundations for financial support.

Andrea Rodríguez Villafañe is from Puerto Rico and, recently, Baltimore. While getting her Master's of Science in Public Health at Johns Hopkins, she had the opportunity to listen to the life story of individuals who immigrated to the United States. She learned about the situations that forced them to migrate and the obstacles they faced accessing healthcare in the US. She wishes to further understand the effect of migration on health and do something about it. She is currently working towards a PhD in Public Health at Johns Hopkins.  

As she learned more and more about FESAC, she felt so much admiration for the organization and its partners since they significantly improve the life of individuals they support. She is humbled to join our cause and receive our guidance as a FESAC intern this summer while working with the migrant shelter, Casa de la Misericordia y de Todas las Naciones. She aims to collect information about the shelter's history and needs, update the shelter's social media, assist in the creation or expansion of a mental health program, and make beautiful friendships along the way. 

Ashley Celada was born and raised in Long Beach, California. Child of Guatemalan immigrants, she is currently a rising junior at Stanford University, hoping to major in International Relations with a primary specialization in Social Development and Human Well-Being, and a secondary specialization in Comparative International Governance. She is also working towards a minor in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. She plans to use these degrees to better understand human migration and its relationship to government policies, civic infrastructure, and human identity and community. 

As an intern for FESAC, Ashley is currently working with two different organizations based in Nogales. The first one, Asociación Down, focuses on assisting children with Down syndrome. The second one, Manitas Que Hablan, focuses on helping people that are deaf, and ending misconceptions and false narratives associated with people with a hearing impairment. As a communications and administrative intern for both of these organizations, Ashley and her coworkers are responsible for developing a work manual for the people that staff these NGOs, old and new. This manual will help bring some stability in the midst of current and future change. In addition to creating a manual, Ashley is helping digitize important archives online for these organizations to keep their work secure and backed up. Additionally, she is creating social media and GoFundMe accounts for these organizations, so that they can expand their reach and obtain funds to help them continue their valuable work. 

Julia Cañez grew up in Altar, Sonora, two hours away from the border, and is now a senior at Stanford University, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Translation Studies in Spanish. She decided to join FESAC in Nogales, Sonora, because as a Sonorense herself, she wants to support non-profit organizations like Desarrollo Integral Juvenil de Nogales (Deijuven) with her understanding of community psychology. Deijuven is a center that rose from the need to give youth a safe space for their development, with a qualified staff that learns and supports their hopes and dreams. Going beyond an after-school program, the center is a space to engage youth in constructive activities with role models that offer guidance, support, and encouragement as they develop essential life skills. Growing up in a low-income household in Sonora, she states she often took advantage of youth programs and now understands their impact on a personal level. 

Deijuven has very little of their information digitalized, and what they do have is outdated. Her goal is to collect general information on the agency’s mission, values, inspirations, testimonials, and future vision. By interviewing staff and youth, she hopes to record their impact and identify gaps in service that the agency could use to grow and strengthen its programs for the future. Her ultimate goals are to create an executive summary for future grant applications that can support the cause financially, and set up a GoFundMe to fundraise the necessary amount to pave their institution and fence it off for security reasons. 

Les Ortega was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and is a rising junior at Stanford University majoring in Sociology and minoring in Human Rights. She intends to pursue Human Rights law with these degrees, passionate about a career dedicated to helping marginalized groups she herself grew up a part of. She is currently working with two different NGO’s in Nogales: Manitas Que Hablan and Arizona Sonora Border Projects for Inclusion (ARSOBO)

As stated before, Manitas Que Hablan is a family-started organization that teaches sign language to kids who are deaf, and anyone who wants to learn. ARSOBO is an organization that partners with the University of Arizona to build prosthetics, wheelchairs, and hearing aids for those that need it, while also adjusting to each person’s financial situation. She puts her passions to good use at these organizations, creating their social media sites, procedure manuals for future workers, and designs their websites to try and get their presence out there so people can donate and help them stay afloat. She hopes to continue to work with them virtually in the future, while pursuing her studies.

Lizbeth Hernandez Rios is a North Carolina native and a rising junior at Stanford University majoring in Political Science, with an emphasis on political economy and development, and minoring in Human Rights and Art Practice. Her childhood experiences instilled in her a dedication of pursuing initiatives aimed at advancing the social and economic welfare of Mexico and the rest of Latin America. At Stanford and through her internship at FESAC, she hopes to learn and understand the approaches and strategies employed by political actors and stakeholders in rebuilding political institutions, restoring public trust, and promoting inclusive and sustainable development.

She states that FESAC is promoting social welfare in Nogales by allowing her to work with local non-profit organizations whose focus is the integration, inclusion, and acceptance of children, teens, and adults with developmental disabilities. She is working closely with Asociación Down Nogales and Venciendo Al Autismo. Asociación Down is a non-profit formed by parents and guardians who serve people with Down Syndrome. In the same manner, Venciendo Al Autismo is a non-profit formed by parents and guardians who serve people with Autism. She is helping each organization by first authoring a comprehensive procedures manual. This will allow her to learn more about the organization and enable her to lead the design of digital platforms. Her goal is to enhance visibility and amplify the impactful initiatives undertaken by each organization. Her ultimate goal is to orchestrate the successful launch of GoFundMe campaigns for both organizations.

Update on Casa de la Misericordia y de Todas las Naciones

Migrant children having fun at Casa de la Misericordia y Todas las Naciones's playground after lunch.

In FESAC's last Bulletin, in January of this year, we got an insight of the migrant influx at Casa de la Misericordia y de Todas las Naciones (CMTN). CMTN is a migrant shelter that serves asylum-seeking individuals and families, as well as single mothers and children, by providing them with shelter, food, education, legal advice, medical care, workshops, and hope. Since our last Bulletin, the administration at CMTN has kept statistics of the migrants who arrive at the shelter. Some examples are shown below.

Chart and pie graph depicting migrants that have passed through CMTN by nationality.

As can be analyzed, the majority of migrants are those displaced within Mexico. Followed by migrants from Guatemala, Venezuela, and Honduras. Currently, there are 72 migrants staying at CMTN and because they are all families, more than half are minors. To be exact, there are currently 38 minors at the shelter. All of the minors attend elementary, middle or high-school, and the adults divide the chores and rotate between these chores.

Children having fun on the swings.

During the interns visit, they were really impressed by the effort and contributions made by the migrants during their stay. For example, a few weeks ago, a Honduran migrant arrived to CMTN who is also a social worker in her country. Due to her background, she had experience with community work and had implemented a workshop called Volvamos A La Mesa, "Return to the Table," in Honduras. Upon arriving at CMTN, she saw that the shelter was a small community, but the migrants needed a workshop to promote communication within their families that centers the dining table.

Due to the violence and circumstances from which many families are fleeing, the workshop promotes family communication, it allows for sharing quality time, and the transmission of values from the core of society. This helps prevent any family member, especially children and young people, from seeking love and understanding in the wrong places or from negative influences.

Since then, the Honduran migrant has taken her asylum appointment and left the shelter, but a volunteer who is studying psychology will be re-implementing the workshop to continue helping migrants.

From left to right: Veronica, Angie, Eleidi, Imer, and Jorge. They are debriefing about their day by returning to the table, implementing the workshop mentioned previously.

The interns also met the agriculture engineer Jorge (37) and his family, pictured above, composed of his wife Eleidi (30), the eldest daughter --- (13), a younger daughter Angie (10), and their baby son Imer (8 months). In an interview they told the interns:

"We are originally from the state of Guerrero, from a municipality in the central region of the state, which lately has had social, political conflicts and insecurity mainly regarding antagonistic groups. For example, Eleidi is from a place called Coatepec de la Escalera, part of the Sierra, where the main economic activity was poppy production [mainly used for the production of opiums and heroin]. When I finished my bachelor's degree they sent me as a technical advisor to that municipality, that's when we met. We have been married for 15 years and we lived relatively well within our possibilities and everything, until these conflicts first forced us to move to the state of Michoacán almost 10 years ago. After about a year, we returned to the state of Guerrero, but not to the town where we originally lived. We arrived to the city of Chilpancingo due to job opportunities in the area, and before we began our migration north, we had been living there for almost six years.

We wouldn't want to always talk about the negative aspects of the social situation we experienced there, but that what we are looking for is emotional, social and economic stability and well-being. Although that's not the real reason, the real reason is insecurity. We believe that if not right now, then in the future we would expose ourselves, and our children, to the situations that are happening back home."

Eleidi, carrying her baby son Imer while she watches over her younger daughter who is swinging off-camera.

"So, she made the decision, to a certain extent, to look into the possibility of being able to cross into the United States. And obviously I, to keep the family together, left all the work and our assets that we had and I came with her. Since her whole family, particularly her siblings, have now been residing in the United States for five or more years, they have told her that it really is a different life in terms of education, economic life, and just everything. Her last sibling that crossed, Evin, stayed at this shelter and that's how she found out about CMNT. So, when all her siblings invited her to come, she came. In fact, she came five days before me. I mean, I practically came following her footsteps. She arrived to the shelter on July 8th, she left home on the 5th. I arrived on the 13th. I arrive, I join them, and we do the CBPOne application. We have been...well we have been here almost a month, and thankfully everything has been good so far."

Angie swinging her baby brother, Imer.

"The asylum situation, well I had practically no knowledge or advice regarding it. I was really afraid that's why I came, because I didn't know, where she was going to be, the news say the border was and continues to be very dangerous. And she came alone with my children. I really didn't have the certainty that she would be safe. So when I arrived, I was so surprised because here at CMTN they support you with lodging, food, psychological support, medical attention, and legal counseling–which is something very important for us who really don't know what the legal situation entails and that gives me such enormous peace of mind.

If for some reason she told me "I don't want to continue with you in the [CBPOne appointment] raffle," if we can call it that, to be able to arrive legally in the United States then I would accept that knowing that her and my children are in a safe environment. And really, the staff in charge and the fellow companions here, everyone is collaborative. We are lucky to be able to have this peace of mind and security while awaiting our opportunity."

During his stay, the engineer has used his knowledge to teach others how to best maintain and grow the garden at CMTN. Lika, the founder and director, is eternally grateful for the initiative migrants have to giving back to the shelter and improving for future migrants.

With Gratitude to our Supporters

Without the generous donation of time, talent, and funds from our many affiliated NGOs, donors, foundations, friends, and family, FESAC could not do what it does to develop and support our border region. In this issue, we wish to give special thanks to two of our recent grantors.

First: to our long-time source of strategic guidance, NGO expertise and funds, the Greater Green Valley Community Foundation and its marvelous Executive Director, Michelle Phillips. The foundation recently awarded FESAC $5,000 to support the FESAC Bridging the Border Bulletin. The Bulletin is FESAC’s first English language communication medium and is designed to shine a light on and open a door to the heroic social investment service rendered daily by the front-line Mexican border NGOs and their US allies. The Bulletin is staffed in part by volunteer student interns from Stanford University.

Second: FESAC responded to an appeal from Daniel Belanger, pastor of St. George Catholic Church in Bourbonnais, Illinois for a series of short articles on the migrant children in the Nogales shelter Casa de la Misericordia y de Todas las Naciones. These articles would be used for the Children’s Fund Lenten Drive. The articles sent by FESAC described the amazing services, love and compassion given to asylum-seeking families stranded at the border and sheltered by CMTN. In response, the St. George Parish Children’s Lenten drive put out an appeal to support the children at CMTN. In just a few weeks the drive raised $8,700. 

Migrant children at CMTN benefitting from funds through the attainment of new, school textbooks.

How To Support FESAC's Social Investment Work

The border migration crisis will continue, and a regular monthly contribution will give FESAC a predictable income stream. If you know anyone interested in this cause, send them to the FESAC contact on this bulletin or direct them to FESAC Sr. Advisor Bob Phillips at for further information. Your contribution is tax-deductible. It will make the families at the border know that they are not forgotten and that their lives matter! 

To support the asylum seeker education program at Casa de la Misericordia, click "Donate Now" and review the instructions below. You will be directed to FESAC's partner organization, BCA. This IRS-approved partnership allows donors to make tax-deductible contributions to Mexican organizations. We work closely with BCA to bring resources, education and hope to the Nogales community.

How to donate to the education program:

  • You do not need an account to donate through BCA, so you can close the pop-up window.
  • Under Campaign, select "Mexican Pass Thru."
  • Under Mexico Pass Thru select "Casa de Misericordia."

Help us provide quality education to children in border communities so that they can recapture their future!

Donate Now

The bulletin is produced by FESAC interns dedicated to spreading awareness of the amazing human service work performed daily by local NGOs as the Nogales community responds to a growing crisis at the border. Click here to view our past issues.

FESAC | | Website

FESAC Board Chair – Luis A. Torres Muñoz

FESAC Executive Director – Alma Cota de Yanez

Senior Advisor to FESAC – Robert T. Phillips