Unaccompanied Minors at the Border: How You Can Help

We have all heard the stories of unaccompanied minors and the horrors they go through when they attempt to cross the border. A large majority of minors are fleeing from traumatic pasts including physical/sexual abuse, gang violence, and in some cases human trafficking. Most minors attempt a dangerous journey to the U.S. alone in hopes of reuniting with family, or desperate for an escape from unimaginable situations in their home countries.

YMCA International Services is a faith-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization of the YMCA of Greater Houston that delivers client-centered programs to refugees, immigrants, and other vulnerable populations. YMCA International created the the Post-Release Services Program which is catered to unaccompanied minors being reunified with family or friends in the U.S.

Self-Care Kits

YMCA International’s Post-Release Services Program has created “self-care kits” to help minors as they transition into whatever situation comes next for them. Kits are distributed during the first home visit with the minor and will provide a variety of self-care tools as case managers and sponsors work towards access to mental health services. Each kit will be individualized per need and age (approximately 73% of minors range from ages 14-17).

Photo Credit: US Customs & Border Protection

How You Can Help

YMCA is asking for assistance with self-care kits and they have made it really easy to help. You can assist in two ways:

1. Visit their Amazon Wish List to purchase one of the items on their list:

·            Journals: Journaling can be used to process feelings, thoughts, and provide the opportunity for positive self-talk which can relieve stress and reduce anxiety.

·         Positive Affirmations: Each kit will include a note of positive statements which may be used as a daily reminder of encouragement.

·         Coloring books and colored pencils/markers: Helps stimulate creativity, focus, and patience. Coloring has also been proven to be therapeutic and calming.

·         Blankets: Helps with feeling settled and recreates a hug.

·         Fun stringy stress balls/strings: squeezing or pulling sends sensory and motor signals that reduce impulsivity, increases attention or focus, and also creates a sense of calmness.

·         Stuffed animal: provides comfort, a sense of security and reduces negative feelings such as loneliness and anxiety.

·         Tea: Chamomile and peppermint tea not only reduces stress and anxiety, but also helps treat insomnia.

·         Tissues: Creates a feeling of safety to express emotions during difficult transitions.

·         Fuzzy socks: provides a sensation of warmth and comfort.

·         Lavender sachet or essential oil (per age): Lavender has been known to help with insomnia, stress and anxiety. A sachet can be placed underneath their pillow and a roll-on oil can be a portable tool for aromatherapy and relaxation.

2. Give a Monetary Donation

If you are unable to purchase items but would still like to participate, a monetary donation can be made directly to this link.

PLEASE be sure to specify in the comments “to be used for post-release services”. This will ensure that the donations made will go directly to minors in the Post-Release Services Program. Gift cards are also appreciated to help purchase items for additional needs of minors

Photo credit: OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images

Thank You

I don’t normally post about issues like this, but this one tugged at my heart strings. We have so much and it is easy for us to give…to those who have so little.

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