Tijuana's new mobile shower unit. Tijuana's new mobile shower unit.

Mobile shower unit will serve Tijuana’s homeless population

'I haven’t had a proper shower for 14 years:' Fernando

People living on the streets of Tijuana will soon have a new option for bathing, thanks to an initiative to be launched by a church group in the border city in Baja California.

On August 25, members of the city’s Iglesia Ancla (Anchor Church) will inaugurate a mobile shower unit to serve Tijuana’s homeless community.

Bethsabe Sandoval, the church’s director of missions, told the newspaper El Universal that the idea for the project came from a community of people with a desire to do more to help others.

While considering the main needs of homeless people, Sandoval said, she couldn’t think of anything better than to offer a shower to those who have limited or no access to clean water.

The church group then got to work raising money for the project and studying similar projects in Costa Rica and Los Angeles, California.

Nine months later, La Regadera (The Shower) is on the verge of dispensing free showers.

The converted cargo van features three bathrooms, each with a shower, toilet, washbasin and mirror. Volunteers will provide users with a towel, soap, shampoo, a change of clothes — and a smile.

People wishing to use the facilities will be given a 15-minute allotment after which they will be offered a food package and, if they wish, counseling.

Sandoval said the mobile unit will go twice a week to parts of the city with the highest concentrations of homeless people.

One person who stands to benefit from the new program is long-term homeless man Fernando, who told El Universal that he currently washes himself in the fetid waters of the Tijuana canal.

“I haven’t had a proper shower for 14 years,” he said.

Fernando, whose arms and legs are covered with both open wounds and scars, explained that he stripped off every day between 9:00am and 10:00am “when everyone else is occupied” to go into the canal waters near Puente Negro, where a large homeless community lives.

“This water full of shit is better than nothing . . . for us there is nothing else,” he said.

A younger homeless man who also lives at Puente Negro expressed disbelief upon hearing of the church’s initiative, but added that it was something that is much needed.

“Will I really be able to take a shower?” he asked.

“If it’s true, it would help us. I almost faint with this heat because I can’t even refresh myself but imagine . . . [with a shower] maybe I’ll get a job or even a girlfriend.”

Source: El Universal (sp)

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