Junt@s Vamos began in 2013 when a founder of the group, Cristina Coronado, met Cynthia Montoya, who was desperately searching for treatment for cervical cancer. Cynthia’s mother-in-law had taken her to all the hospitals in Ciudad Juarez, where she lived, but at every hospital she was told there was no room for her.
Cristina, who had been recently diagnosed with breast cancer, felt a connection with Cynthia. From that moment until Cynthia died twenty days later, Cristina and a group of friends supported and accompanied Cynthia.
Cynthia and her family did not have the resources to travel to a clinic in another city where cancer treatments were more available to low income women like her. Ciudad Juarez has no specialized cancer treatment center with comprehensive services, and those who need care must travel four hours to Chihuahua City where treatment is still expensive.
Junt@s Vamos was born out of the journey the group traveled with Cynthia. The core philosophy of accompaniment, dignity, and justice supports the group’s vision to live in a city, a nation, a world where women no longer experience what Cynthia experienced. While the group started with a focus on women with cancer, we have come to understand that the vulnerabilities women with cancer experience in Juarez are linked to the vulnerabilities that other women experience. So, recently, the group has started collaborating with asylum seekers in Juarez to build solidarity and work together to support lives lived with dignity.
Around October of 2019 a series of new policies in the United States, including what is known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), left many asylum seekers stranded in Mexico waiting for asylum hearings. Thousands of migrants were waiting in Ciudad Juarez, many outside near the bridges crossing into the United States. Several religious and civil society organizations came together to develop shelters for asylum seekers who, otherwise, would be outside during the winter.
One of these places is Casa de Acogida, where a group of people have joined Junt@s Vamos in producing embroidered bags for sale. Laws in Mexico do not allow most asylum seekers to work in formal employment, so this is a way to earn income for themselves and their families who remain in their home countries. The name Junt@s Nichonsagua recognizes the collaboration with the original Junt@s Vamos group and to identifies their own home countries – Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.