Since 2007, the Guadalajara non-profit FM4 Paso Libre has made it its mission to help Central American migrants passing through the city on their way to the United States.
It’s an incredibly arduous – and extremely dangerous – journey, the migrants prey to weather, hunger, thirst and predatory members of organized crime, who often press the desperate travelers into performing one or more “services” for the gangs. FM4, not content to merely provide the needy with basic physical needs, also offers a way for migrants to feel useful and wanted as human beings: assisting in train track cleanup.
FM4’s brick-and-mortar, which opened last May, is located a few blocks southeast of the Glorieta Minerva, just a block shy of the train tracks running through the middle of the city, making it a convenient spot for migrants to jump off the train and seek assistance. Every two months, the group organize a cleaning brigade along Avenida Inglaterra (which runs along either side of the tracks) from Niños Heroes to Lopez Mateos. It’s made up of a combination of students, church groups, random citizenry – and migrants passing through. This motley collection is armed with black plastic bags, which quickly get filled with trash strewn on either side of the tracks; organizers say they collect an average of 120 large trash bags per shift.