Mother of three who migrated from Cuba receiving help from community, local church

Hialeah church helping Cuban migrants find homes, work, enroll children in schools

HIALEAH, Fla. – Three-year-old Daniel Tomayo can be found playing on the sidewalk near his temporary home, a Sunday school classroom at Iglesia Rescate in Hialeah.

His mom, Daneilis Tamayo Batista, told Local 10 News he turns four on Wednesday, and while she doesn’t have any money to do anything special, she says her gift was bringing him to the United States.

Batista arrived from Cuba with her three children last month. They are Daniel, 16-year-old Isabel Bembow Tamayo and 8-year-old Delmis Tomayo.

Life at the moment, Batista says, feels tremendously difficult.

She is without work, housing, family or money, but she says she is rich in hope.

That’s because here in the States you can have something you would never get in Cuba: freedom.

Batista is one of the record-number of Cuban migrants making the dangerous journey to South Florida and scrambling to find work and affordable housing upon arrival.

Helping them is the faith community.

The administrative pastor at Iglesia Rescate said they started taking in migrants over the past year. The most they have had at once is 29 migrants. On Tuesday, the church housed 12.

“A year and a half ago when this really started picking up and before we set up arrangements with extend stay motels, we had some churches with people sleeping on their sites,” said Peter Routsis-Arroyo, Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami. “We have been able to really put a program in place to avoid that as much as possible. That program is the arrangements with motels and extended stay motels.”

The first priority is getting the kids enrolled in school. Looking for work is a requirement to be granted temporary shelter in one of their four classrooms.

Batista worked in a church ministry in Cuba. She is working to enroll her 16-year-old son in school and her 8-year-old daughter has already been enrolled.

Routsis-Arroyo said it can feel overwhelming when entire families arrive with nowhere to go. He said they have partnered with extended stay motels and he expressed gratitude for families who have volunteered to help those arriving in South Florida.

“Families are willing to sponsor and open up their homes because they have been there themselves,” said Routsis-Arroyo.

Church leaders say what is needed are business owners with job opportunities and landlords with affordable rental units.

As far as tangible donations, they need air mattresses, blankets, pillows, towels, personal hygiene products and cleaning supplies.

“The best way to help is go on the website and make a donation to the Assistance to Migrants fund, which helps provide for the short term needs of migrants ranging from shelter and food to transportation,” said Routsis-Arroyo. “Support our work in humanitarian assistance and providing short-term relief to refugees and migrants in South Florida. We focus on shelter, food, and transportation.”

Anyone who wishes to help can also contact

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."