When Ruby Corado opened Casa Ruby in 2012, her vision for the organization included communities of all backgrounds and status: “Our mission is to help anyone, regardless of immigration status,” says Corado in a recorded conversation with TheBody contributing writer Giuli Alvarenga.
Since then, the transgender Salvadoran migrant and HIV activist has been working tirelessly to support LGBTQ youth in the Washington, D.C. area through Casa Ruby, which provides housing, preventative health care, mental health support, and immigration assistance programs for its clients. Now, the organization is opening a house dedicated specifically to providing shelter, mental health resources, and other support for migrants in transit, in light of the public health crisis happening at the U.S.-Mexico border. Currently, three migrants are residing in the house, and Corado is working to link them to the care and support they need for a smooth transition to life in the U.S.
As migrants transition from detention centers to life on their own, Corado emphasizes the importance of creating a pipeline for LGBTQ migrants to find work, stability, and community in a new country.
“I am an immigrant—and today I have a different quality of life because I was given the opportunity,” says Corado. “Now, I know better. I know how to support people in need.”
The newly opened migrant house is named after Bella Evangelista, a transgender Guatemalan migrant who died homeless in Washington, D.C. in 2003. The name, while honoring a woman who sought asylum in the U.S., also symbolizes the type of movement work Corado envisions for the migrant house’s occupants. “We want to ensure that people who are coming out of detention are at the forefront of the work,” says Corado.
It’s a successful social-justice tactic that Corado practices within her own organization, which employs around 50 employees, all trans women. Casa Ruby hires people from the community to work together to empower one another and address disparities and issues they’ve experienced firsthand.
“Working collectively means everybody has a voice,” says Corado. “We’re not just a political statement. We’re not just a work plan. We’re not just paper. We carry out the mission of our work every day because it is about saving lives.”
A video of Giuli Alvarenga's interview with Ruby Corado is below. If you're interested in making a one-time or monthly donation to Casa Ruby, the donation page is here.