Launching our Tech Bus: Where Migrants, Refugees, and more Prepare for Jobs

Practicing graduation speeches inside the new tech bus. Photo by Rafael Ávila / Preemptive Love Coalition.

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act but also dream; not only plan but also believe.” Anatole France

We began to respond to the needs of our migrant friends on this border in Mexico in June 2019, after months of listening, learning, and getting to know them.

The lives of our migrant friends who have come to Mexico from other countries, as well as our displaced friends from other parts of Mexico who fled to the border, have been devastated by violence. As a community of peacemakers, we refuse to accept that the way to do things–the way to respond–is through violence.

Upper left and right, taking advantage of bus design by creating upper storage bins. Above, the traditional “school bus yellow” is replaced by a fresh, white coat of paint. Photos by Rafael Ávila / Preemptive Love Coalition.

Piloted in Iraq, now in Mexico

Since 2017, we have pursued workforce development by helping young people–migrants, internally displaced persons, vulnerable local communities, and refugees–to acquire the skills necessary to succeed in the labor market. It’s not just about IT and English, but also life skills. Through tech hubs and virtual classrooms (in response to Covid-19), we seek to increase the employability of young people and prepare them for the ever-changing nature of work.

To date, we have served more than 2,417 migrants, refugees, and internally displaced persons with high-level professional development counseling and mentoring. We’ve accomplished this through tech hubs in 4 cities in Iraq, 2 online centers serving Syrian and Lebanese young people, and most recently, our first center in Mexico.

This has resulted in 790 jobs, a 1003% increase in income for participants 6 months after entering the program, and a 98% confidence rate that participants believe in their ability to get a job.

Esbeydi Arias–Program Officer, Mexico, hosts guests during the launch event. Photo by tech hub staff / Preemptive Love Coalition.

Serving Local Needs

One of our most ambitious projects so far has just been launched, in order to meet the unique needs of Mexico’s northern border: our tech bus.

Two years ago, we started this project with a vision in mind—that a simple school bus could become a mobile classroom and through this vehicle, help our migrant friends to learn and prepare for a chance at a better future.

The road has not been easy, but we were sure that all our efforts would be worth it. This project was full of surprises from day one: finding the most suitable design for our mobile classroom, and deciding what material we would use to create the furniture—something that was not only light but also durable. And the biggest surprise of all: the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, we believe in “pushing through pain.” In time we concluded our remodeling process, and finally tested classes inside the tech bus. 

Celebrating Arely—Student of the Week. Photo by Esbeydi Arias / Preemptive Love.

2022 saw the first complete Cohort inside the TechBus: where a group of incredible women took a chance on us and on themselves. They saw this small space as a safe haven – not only because the classes were a welcomed break from routine but also because they felt inside this bus, they were taking a look into the future they wanted to create.

We know that a single mobile classroom may not be enough to help the migrant youth overcome their obstacles, receiving English and IT classes is not the magical solution for the migration situation, and obtaining life skills is harder to achieve than regular lessons.

However, if you add these elements to a person brave enough to risk his or her life, walking more than 1,800 miles (just crossing Mexico) with determination to have a better life, the sky’s the limit. We know the journey to help our migrant friends gain the necessary tools to reach a brighter future is long but at Preemptive Love, we always bet on the dark horse, and sometimes all that’s needed is a push in the right direction.

Relief Program Officer—Team Lead Haniel Lopez describes our approach at the recent launch event in Mexico. “As a community of peacemakers, we refuse to accept that the way of doing things is through violence.” Photo by tech hub staff / Preemptive Love Coalition.