Clean the Body and Restore a Sense of Self: Love, Hope, and Dignity at the US Mexico Border

For most of us, how to keep ourselves clean was among the first lessons we learned. We were taught to brush our teeth in the morning and at night, to wash our hands before every meal, to shower or bathe daily, and to keep our clothes clean. Our hygiene habits grew with us. For some, they developed into a makeup ritual or a rite-of-passage shaving habit. Once in a while, we decided not to associate with someone because of their personal hygiene.

 During the COVID-19 pandemic, being clean took on a new significance. For some, it was the difference between life and death. For those of us fortunate enough to have a home with reliable access to clean water, soap, or hand sanitizer, being clean meant learning a new routine.

Others of us—27.1 million displaced moms, dads, and kids around the world at the end of 2021—did not have proper access to the most basic necessities. Some had to choose between buying food or going to the doctor. Which would you choose if you had to decide between buying food or a bar of soap for your family?

The decision to leave behind everything you have ever known is courageous because there is no guarantee that the gamble will pay off. Immigration policies change while people are in mobility, stranding them where they are when new policies go into effect. Locals are not always welcoming as border cities struggle to accommodate those arriving daily. In Juarez, migrants mostly stay inside or close to the shelters that serve as their temporary homes for their safety. The large influx of refugees into El Paso means hundreds of people are sleeping in the streets because El Paso’s shelters are overflowing with people in need.

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we’re able to lend a helping hand. Thanks to your compassion, migrants and refugees are regaining their dignity and a sense of self because you showed up with hygiene kits. The kits contain a bar of soap, a washcloth, a toothbrush and toothpaste, wet wipes, and a shaving razor. These items are delivered in a practical, reusable travel bag.

Leaving home and crossing through multiple countries in search of safety requires extraordinary faith. The journey migrants and refugees undertake is harrowing. That’s why self-confidence is essential for them to persevere.  We’ve found that confidence starts with self-investment, with the opportunity to feel good about oneself because that is what empowers us to do great things.

Restoring a person’s self-confidence does not require a big action. From the hearts of our donors to the hands of those in need, we provide immediate relief while respecting personal dignity. Hope renews. 

A few days ago, while working with our local partners, we distributed 150 hygiene kits to migrants and refugees in the streets of El Paso. “We used to think people didn’t care about us, that we were overlooked…[but] thanks to this, we know there is someone out there who actually cares for us,” said a migrant who received one of our hygiene kits. He was right. Thanks to you, he felt cared for and seen.

Waiting in El Paso. Photo by Martin Renova for Preemptive Love.

Join us in helping vulnerable people on both sides of the border regain their self-confidence and their dignity. As more people become displaced by violence, poverty, and climate, the need grows more urgent. Saying “yes” reaffirms that we belong to each other.