For the last 15 years, women in the Veracruz village of La Patrona have been handing out food and water to Central American migrants as they speed by on cargo trains. The group has taken their name from their village and are known as Las Patronas. The women—15 in all, including a mother and four of her daughters—work in a small kitchen every day, from 9:30 in the morning until 9:00 at night. They never know when a cargo train will pass. Some days, there’s only one train, sometimes none and sometimes as many as three. They hand out food and water to people on every train and trains may carry as many as 500 people. The women themselves were donating all the food when they first began this work and while much of it is now donated, they still have to purchase food most days. In addition to handing out food and water, they’ve become a powerful voice for migrant rights in Mexico.
I spent a week in February of 2012 photographing and interviewing Las Patronas. I was amazed at how much work they do and awed by their dedication. They are an inspiration.
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