At a Mexican Migrant Shelter, Sustainable Solar for an Unsustainable Situation

Imagine seeing a group of people trying to survive and obtain a better future for themselves and their families. They come from different countries and don’t have a place to stay. Imagine you decide to help them by opening up your home and trying to provide shelter for as many of them as you can. You offer them not just a place to stay but also food, facilities to take a shower, a place to prepare a hot meal, air conditioning so they can stand the heat, and a place where they can have something as simple as a light to turn on at night.

Our earlier pilot project trying solar panels at this shelter was very successful, but simply not big enough for the need. Expanding the number of solar panels means expanded sustainability for this community of asylum seekers. Photo by Manuel Trillo.

These new friends are joyous and feel safe at your place. But, as time passes, and you receive your utility bills, there are significant differences from the ones you received before—especially in one of them. Your electricity bill has doubled since your migrant friends arrived. It’s nerve-wracking to try to figure out how you will pay for this. And most importantly, how will you continue helping the people?

Our friend and long-time partner Pastor Fierro, from Zapata House, has had to deal with this. “I didn’t think about [the costs], I just wanted to help the people and offer everything I could.” It was impossible for Pastor Fierro to ignore the newcomers to his city. Hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers have come through his Mexican city, which straddles the US border. These migrants are exhausted, desperate, and in need of a friend like Pastor Fierro—and you.

Solar power manufactured in Mexico, and installed by a local company invests in the local economy where jobs are sorely needed. Photo by Manuel Trillo.

Fear of violence forces people—adults and children alike—to stay inside shelters day and night, regardless of the weather. Regardless of the conditions of the shelter.

During the long summer days, temperatures in the city reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). Despite the heat, shelters are sometimes forced to shut off electricity regularly due to the cost of powering lights, fans, and appliances for so many people.

Knowing the situation, Preemptive Love decided to act and help our migrant friends: not just paying an electricity bill but looking for a long-term, sustainable solution. Following our core value of listening deeply and remaining close to the communities we serve, our Mexico team worked with the shelter to provide 13 new solar panels that could generate enough energy to reduce electricity costs.

Solar power not only runs air conditioning on blistering summer days but also powers heating in the winter. Photo by Manuel Trillo.

“With these solar panels, we will now be able to provide all the energy our migrant friends need. We are grateful for your kindness and for responding to our needs” Pastor Fierro said. When the shelter doesn’t have huge utility expenses, their funds can be spent on other essential needs.

This project helps lighten the burden of a partner and friend and supports more than 80 of our migrant friends. These friends lost their hometowns, families, and everything familiar when they fled home because of violence. The one thing you helped them keep—the knowledge that they’re loved and valued.