When the Romero Vasquez sisters acted on instinct and gave some food to hungry immigrants on the roof of a train who were asking for food, they didn’t think much of it. They were just afraid their mother would be mad at them for giving away their breakfast.
Little did they know that 19 years later, with their mother’s help, their small act of kindness would become Las Patronas, a charitable organizations in Veracruz that’s helped thousands of migrants on their way to the United States.
And in 2013, they received Mexico’s most prestigious human rights prize, the Premio Nacional de Derechos Humanos 2013.
“We never expected it to turn into something so big,” said Guadalupe Gonzalez, a fellow patrona. “I think it’s because it came out of nowhere, it came from just the little that one can give.”
The women of Las Patronas cook rice, beans and tortillas and give them away with water to all the migrants coming from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
And if you’re a migrant facing all the dangerous of the journey — drug cartels, gang violence, robbery, kidnapping, murder and even falling off the train to your death — Las Patronas is your pinch of hope on the perilous journey.
“We heard about them because they help us and give us food. Things like water, drinks, some tortillas and frijoles,” said Oscar, a young man making the journey from El Salvador. “They help you a lot with that, because sometimes you don’t have any food nor any money to buy anything.”
Learn more about the women of the organization and where the name Las Patronas comes from the BBC here.