By Mike Viola
Caring for the terminally ill is always challenging work. At the Alberque Las Memorias (Hostel of Memories) hospice in Tijuana, Mexico workers have an extra challenge, finding enough food for the residents. Earlier this year the Missionary Oblates lead efforts to build a vegetable garden at the hospice to alleviate this struggle.
“The garden is providing fresh and reliable food, greatly needed for the many patients because the hospice often struggles with having enough food for everybody,” said Fr. Antonio Ponce, O.M.I. “The plan is to produce enough food for residents and eventually surplus will be sold in the community with the profits funding upkeep of the facility.”
Alberque Las Memorias is a residential hospice that provides care and refuge for approximately 130 indigent men, women and children infected with HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis. Many residents have been abandoned by their families. The hospice gives these patients shelter, medical attention and a place to die in dignity.
The hospice is located in the Oblates’ La Morita mission in Tijuana, an overwhelmingly impoverished area of about 300,000 people. At the hospice, the Oblates provide support by celebrating Masses, the Sacraments, funerals and help with food at least once a week.
Funding and volunteer labor to build the garden came in large part from the Oblates’ Santa Rosa Parish in San Fernando, California. During two weekends in April, a team of volunteers installed the garden beds and began the planting process. The initial planting included peppers, carrots, corn, tomato, cabbage, onion, cauliflower, lettuce, kale, cucumber, radish, green beans, scallion and peppermint.
“We are thankful to those who are supporting these vulnerable people at the hospice in Tijuana,” said Fr. Ponce. “We ask that you keep the Hospice Vegetable Garden initiative in your prayers.”