How Border Partners Makes a Difference in Puerto Palomas

staff

The Border Partners staff are forward-looking and keep their eyes on their goals.

Every day we are aware of how wonderful the staff we have in Palomas are!  Recently, Peter decided to ask them to write about what Border Partners means to them.  Their statements show the efficacy of our presence on the border. We appreciate our supporters who make that possible! With their help, life is improving for individuals and for the community.

Their responses illustrate concrete ways life has changed for the better for Palomas and its inhabitants:

Juana F: I personally benefitted from the Day One with Border Partners—both in health and economically.

Juana Flores

Health: Previously, I lived with depression and now, by working, I can keep my mind busy. Moreover, my children have had a chance to receive education, unlike me. But now I don’t feel so keenly that I am different from them.

Economically: Now I can support my children monetarily. I was able to build my little house, so I have a nice place for when my children come to visit me.

In my Palomas community: More families have changed their eating habits and eat more vegetables and live better. Through gardening they save some money for their families.

Griselda: Thanks to my employment with Border Partners, I have been able to support my children. And, I’m able to help my community by teaching good nutrition and promoting physical activity, among other things

Many people in Palomas have achieved goals due to the education opportunities and the projects that Border Partners has offered.

Juan R.: Border Partners gives me the opportunity to serve my community through my role as a Community Coordinator. I’m thankful to be part of something so great, working with an amazing group of people. And also I get to meet other outstanding individuals, such as the Board of Directors who give their valuable time and knowledge for the benefit of my community.

Juan Rascon

Border Partners’ projects have brought improvements for the elderly of Palomas. Important areas in the community–such as nutrition, gardening, physical activity, and health–are stronger due to the programs Border Partners sponsors. Border Partners also supports education.

Lunch supplement programs–such as the assistance given to Ford Elementary School students–are clearly visible and felt community-wide.

 

Adrian: Border Partners has made me a better person. I’ve learned how to help other people and feel good about it. Border Partners affected my family, too. Now my children have more public places to be physically active.

Juan: Border Partners has had an effect on me personally by helping me to improve myself and teach people in my community about their health and physical activity. My family has also improved because I have a source of employment.

The impact that Border Partners has had in Palomas is visible. Many townspeople are very grateful for the benefits they’ve received and for improvements in local health and education.

Juana LazoyaJuana: Personally, Border Partners has made an important impact: I changed my lifestyle and learned many things, especially regarding my health. Through Border Partners’ employment, I have a source of money to support my family and now I’m able to buy necessities that I could not afford before.

In my Palomas community in my career as a Border Partners project coordinator, I’ve learned skills to teach others about a healthy diet, how to live an active lifestyle, and many more important things.

 

AUCTION: “MOTHER and CHILD” STATUE by DIANA LEMARBE

Mother and Child by Diane LeMarbe

Mother and Child by Diana LeMarbe

We are currently auctioning a new work of sculpture by local artist Diana LeMarbe. Bids can be submitted by email until 10:00 AM on Saturday, May 6. The sculpture, entitled Mother and Child, will be on display from 8:30 AM until 1:00 PM at the Give Grandly fundraising event in conjunction with the Silver City Farmer’s Market opening. Silent bids will be taken during this event; a winner will be determined at 1:00 PM. The proceeds of the sale will support community development programs in Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Bidding for the statue which is valued at $350 will begin at $200. Bidders can submit bids to admin@borderpartners.org. The most current high bid for the statue is posted and continuously updated here on our website. The successful bidder can make arrangements with us to pick up the statue.

Mother and Child

The Mother and Child statue is made of fiber impregnated clay, a versatile medium which does not require firing. This piece was created as part of a September 2016 exhibition that honored women as the matrix of all societies. Women, says LeMarbe, hold together their families, communities and societies.

The statue is 18 inches high, 6 inches wide and 6 inches deep and weighs a substantial 5 pounds. It’s built on a foundation of rebar which facilitates its secure transport. See an album of photo images of the piece at the conclusion of this article. The detail and interesting use of color is remarkable.

LeMarbe likes to recall one response to the Mother and Child:

A young woman came to me asking about the piece, saying that she was mother to a daughter. She saw herself in this sculpture. And, she also saw herself and her mother, her grandmother, her tia, etc. She felt the continuum.”

Border Partners’ mission is consonant with this vision of women. We affirm the importance of offering a means to women to improve their lives. Much of our programming fulfills this purpose.

Diana LeMarbe, the Artist

Diana LeMarbe migrated to New Mexico by way of Alaska from her native Pacific Northwest in 1979. She holds the land and people of New Mexico with awe, reveling in its diversity of cultures. A tile maker and sculptor, she chooses clay as her principle medium, with the relatively new fiber clay fast becoming her favorite. LeMarbe donated Mother and Child to Border Partners to support our programming in Palomas which supports so many women and children.

Mother And Child By Diana LeMarbe

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: Weblizar

Border Partners celebrates seven years of accomplishment

birthday

It’s “Happy Birthday” time for Border Partners, as the agency celebrates seven years of accomplishment.

We have an extra reason to give thanks in November each year because we remember Border Partners’ beginnings in November 2008. Our work began in response to the poverty in Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua, MX. Palomas had been doubly devastated by drug-related violence and the economic downturn. But the citizens were eager for support and willing to work toward the needs they defined as most important:

  1. Employment and jobs for income
  2. Access to health care

Please join us in celebrating the progress that people in Palomas have made in achieving their goals.  Without your support, none of the work would have been possible! But, overshadowing those, we celebrate the accomplishments we’ve supported the people to make that have improved life and brought them closer to achieving their identified goals.

In fact, we’d like to celebrate our birthday by sharing some of these highlights with you.

Border Partners’ Accomplishments  2008-2015

  • Helped 70 families start home gardens with ongoing technical assistance!
  • Built a greenhouse and a large community garden that provide vegetables to a community meal program and Ford Primary School.
  • Trained six health promotoras who offer health screening and education, working closely with the medical staff at the Palomas Health Center.
  • Constructed an Education Center that offers free use of 20 computers with internet and classes.
  • Helped seven women form their own cooperative business: Palomas Oilcloth Designs which now sells all over the world!
  • Worked with a student and staff at New Mexico State University to build and install water filters that reduce the toxic levels of arsenic and fluoride in drinking water in Palomas schools.
  • Established computer labs for three primaries, middle school and high school.
  • Built play equipment in two parks including a new kids’ climbing wall!
  • Created a walled soccer court which is ready to open in December, 2015.
  • Donated over 200 books in Spanish and 12 computers to the local library.
  • Provided blankets, warm jackets and hats to needy residents.
  • Brought 150 used bicycles to the community for repair and use.
  • Installed rainwater catchment system for community garden.

You’ll find more detail about our origins and a more detailed look at our accomplishments through the years on our website page “The Origins of Border Partners.” 

It’s all thanks to our supporters

We know with acute clarity that the people of Palomas could never have done all this without the support of Border Partners’ benefactors. So, when we figuratively “blow out the candles” on our Border Partners’ birthday cake we’ll make a grateful wish. That wish will be that all our supporters–who deserve the credit for making Palomas a better place to live–will understand what they’ve accomplished. We hope that the good they have done will return to each of them in multiple ways. And we hope they know how much we appreciate them!

Puerto Palomas Health Promoters focus on children with special needs

child development classes

Mothers receive training on how best to support the development of their children with special needs at child development classes in Puerto Palomas. Our health promoters augment this effort and participate in offering the classes.

The health promoter [promotora] group of seven women works closely with the staff of the town’s Health Center [Centro de Salud] to extend health education and health enhancing activities into the daily lives of the townspeople. Border Partners, which provides direct support and resources and finds training opportunities for these women, is pleased with their recent new focus on assisting families of children with developmental disabilities and special needs.

As part of this effort, the promotoras visit homes of families identified or considered likely to benefit from these supportive services. The promoters conduct a health survey, appearing at the doors of the families and asking to visit the parent(s) to conduct a short interview. They

Dra. Lina Carrasco

Doctor Lina Carrasco (top) of the local clinic in Puerto Palomas demonstrates to moms how best to promote child development.

inquire as to the needs of the household, asking, for instance:

  • Do any of the children have special needs?
  • Are the children moving, walking, speaking, responding appropriately for their age?
  • Would the household benefit from receiving a food supplement basket?

Questions are suggested by the Mexican government and responses recorded for the town clinic.

As a result of the survey, families have already experienced benefits. Infants and children with motor disabilities, for instance, are receiving direct assistance at classes that teach parents how to stimulate greater development. Gricelda Loya, local leader of the promotoras, reports that even one class session can produce rather dramatic improvements in infants. Early identification and early intervention can promote lasting improvement.

Gricelda trained in Casas Grandes, Mexico to learn the stimulation exercises that they are teaching the mothers.  She has subsequently taught some of the other health promoters who have added this project to their regular activities which include:

  • regular hours at their Palomas office during which they can provide health advice, check blood pressure and glucose levels and make referrals to the Centro de Salud;
  • monthly visits to the town meal site to check blood pressure and glucose;
  • twice yearly health fairs;
  • assisting clinic staff with registering families for services.

This weekend they will administer flu and tetanus vaccines at the Christmas event in town.

Photos by Gricelda Loya, leader of Puerto Palomas health promoters

BONUS: Photos of moms, children and healthy learning on our Flickr Album by Gricelda Loya

Water filtration project provides safe water to Puerto Palomas

water filtration workshop

Border Partners founder, Peter Edmunds (center) helped Juan Carlos Huerta (right) of Puerto Palomas lead a workshop to produce water filters for testing.

Public drinking water in Puerto Palomas contains naturally occurring heavy metals that are detrimental to long term health, particularly for children. Levels of arsenic surpass 20 times safe standards; there’s seven times too much fluoride.

The town provides two public water filters but residents must pay 1 peso per gallon for the safe water. Regularly transporting large jugs of water to one’s home is time-consuming and heavy–as a five gallon jug weighs over forty pounds.  And the amount of water needed in a school for the drinking needs of students, staff and for lunch cooking requirements prohibits use of this safe water.

Erin Ward, the Director of the Southwest Consortium for Environmental Research & Policy and Joshua Gomez, an engineering student from New Mexico State University, contacted us at Border Partners to introduce a public domain design water filter to Palomas. The filter is composed of common plumbing parts and chemicals.

This filter, which can easily be installed in public buildings and in homes, allows access to safe water to all at a low cost.

Making sure it works!!

Border Partners is working with community members to introduce this filter, run tests to make sure that it works well and to find out how long the chemicals will filter to safe  standards. We needed to find a source for the chemicals and to refine the design to keep the cost as low as possible.  In June, 2014, filters were built by high school students and installed in the community demonstration garden, as well as in the three Palomas public schools. In July, water samples were tested and found to meet the standard set.

Peter Edmunds secured interest from the community, arranged for their involvement, transported water for testing and secured donations to fund the project.

News of this advance spread. The Mayor of Ascension, the county seat,  asked for filters to install in 30 schools in the district and partially funded their production.

Currently, the latest model of the filters is installed in the three schools and the garden.  The next step is to have the water tested by a Mexican water testing lab.    After we clear that hurdle, we will be able to install the filters in all 25 of the schools in the district and sell the filters to the public.

Two men from Palomas are developing a business plan to launch a way to sell these water filters in Mexico. If successful, this will contribute to economic development in the town, providing jobs and reliable income.

Deming Headlight Highlights Border Partners’ Work in Palomas–Part 1

The Deming Headlight, newspaper of Deming, New Mexico, focused on our work in a series of three articles by Marjorie Lilly. We encourage you to visit the articles on the Headlight’s webpage. For your convenience, we post them here with gratitude to the Headlight.

Business could be booming in Palomas by Marjorie Lilly

The seven women in Palomas who originally worked for Palomas Oilcloth Designs in 2008 are still working there. It was one of the first projects nurtured into existence by the non-profit organization Border Partners, directed by Polly and Peter Edmunds of Deming.

Palomas Oilcloth Designs group

The women make bags, aprons, and tablecloths out of oilcloth printed with traditional Mexican designs of bright colored flowers and fruits.

They sell them at the Pink Store in Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico, at Mountain View Market in Las Cruces, La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, as well as in Tucson, AZ, Duluth, MN and even Australia. They have a website […] where orders can be made, and also on the Etsy website.

The women have paid off their loan to Border Partners and have their own bank account. But they still work with Polly Edmunds to some extent. “She sometimes receives orders and gives them to us,” says Ludy Loya. “She brings our things to stores.”

Palomas Oilcloth Designs started up in 2008, when the violence began soaring in Palomas, a Mexican border town located 35 miles south of Deming. Six years later, the business is still intact, long after the violence has subsided.

The goal of the Edmunds’ non-profit organization has been to promote “education, health and recreation, sustainable technologies and economic growth,” as stated on their website.

The Edmunds are from Minnesota and found the motivation to start their project when they went to Cuernavaca, Mexico after their last child had finished high school.

They visited a town in the mountains “where people lived in houses made from palm fronds and corn stalks,” says Polly. “They had no real source of clean water. We were forever changed from that day forward.”

When Palomas Oilcloth Designs was just starting out, says Juliana Lazca, “Polly brought an apron so we could get an idea of the design. At the beginning we made only aprons.”

They designed the aprons, and then designed almost all the bags.

“If we designed more bags now, it would take too much time,” said Loya, the coordinator for the group. [Border Partners’ note: They will accept custom orders]

“Thank God Polly came to Palomas at that time,” Lazca said.

Polly helped them learn necessary skills like accounting, marketing and purchasing supplies. Ivonne Romero at the Pink Store orders the rolls of oilcloth they want from Mexico City. “We don’t spend a lot of time with Polly any more,” Loya said.

The designs are sunny and appealing.

There are cherries, apples, watermelons, pineapples, chrysanthemums, and sunflowers with a “retro” look, as the same designs have been used on tablecloths in Mexico for decades. They come in red, dark green, yellow, aqua, hot pink, lime green and more.

They used to work together at the building used by Border Partners. “It was kind of a social club,” said Loya.

But the space is now being used as a soup kitchen for the government program called Crusade Against Hunger, so the women just store their oilcloth there and go there to cut off what they need.

They all work mostly separately now, and on their own schedules. One works in her living room, another in the kitchen.

“The only rule is that everybody works the same and for the same hours,” said Loya. “Everybody gets the same amount of money.” They get an average of $50 a week, more in the summer months than in winter, from ten hours of labor. This is what many people in town earn in a week. They earn about $5 an hour, which is a competitive rate in a town like Palomas.

Palomas has been in an unemployment crisis since about 2006, when the U.S. tightened the borders. This shut down a lot of businesses that served illegal border crossers. A factory shut down when the economic recession hit, and the drug violence has scared away medical tourists.

So most of the women are supplementing their family income in a town where there’s a lot of hunger and unemployment. By some estimates half the population is out of work.

Juliana didn’t have a job before, but now she and her husband, who drives a taxi, are building a new house for themselves with the help of her earnings.

Socorro Ortega made “much less” before. She made pastries and sold them from house to house, often not earning enough for her and her daughter to eat. But now she can take vacations and fix her house.

Working only 10 hours a week leaves time for other jobs.

Loya has a beauty salon. Socorrito works as a health promotora for Border Partners.

Berenice works at her mother’s ice cream business.

The biggest order they’ve ever had, says Loya, is when they were commissioned to make 1,500 bags for an international church conference. They worked on the bags from October last year to March this year. They do special orders sometimes too. Requests can be e-mailed to ludyloya@gmail.com.

Loya puts out a request for donations of sewing machines for the group. “Sewing oilcloth is very hard,” she says. “Socorrito was telling me she’s having things [on her sewing machine] break very easily. And we don’t have anybody here who can fix them.”

She describes the kind of sewing machine they need — “the older the better. Old machines are very strong.”

When asked why she continues working for Palomas Oilcloth Designs, Ortega says, “For the money, and because I like it.” In regard to whether they will work there forever, “We hope to God we will,” she says.

Berenice Garrido adds, smiling, “Hasta que el cuerpo aguante” (As long as my body lasts), and they laugh.

A little help goes a long way in Palomas, and the women in the group are still smiling with gratitude.

For donations to Border Partners e-mail info@borderpartners.org

Summer activities in Palomas enthuse Border Partners intern

by Catie Carter

Catie Carter and water filter project

Catie Carter [right], Border Partners summer intern in sustainable technology, displays the important new water filter that Juan Carlos, the high school Chemistry teacher and Joel, the high school Physics teacher,are introducing into the Puerto Palomas community. This water filter will remove toxins of arsenic and fluorides.

Hola! I am Catie Carter, a PhD student in Sustainable Design at the University of  Texas, Austin. I’m volunteering and studying activities here in Puerto Palomas this summer.

I arrived last week and have already met so many lovely people working towards positive change in Palomas. The picture above shows me with Juan Carlos, the high school Chemistry teacher, and Joel, the high school Physics teacher, who are creating a simple and important water filter to distribute through the town, starting with the schools.

This water filter is specifically designed to pull toxic arsenic and fluorides from the water. Right now, the two men are working on a prototype and conducting quality testing. They were excited to show me their work one afternoon.

This project is one of many initiatives that Border Partners supports and that community members and leaders carry out. In my first week here I’ve met many others committed to improving their community:

  • the education center’s neighbor Sam, who now runs a papercrete business;
  • the friendly and fun group of promotoras who promote health, good nutrition and exercise and run the summer school;
  • the enterprising group of women who craft oilcloth bags and aprons for Palomas Oilcloth Designs;
  • the gardeners, working in both a demonstration garden at the center and helping to make home gardening the norm …and even more!

In coming weeks of July, I’ll learn more about the new bio-char projects, solar oven operation, the papercrete manufacturing, solar hot water heaters and other initiatives.

The community has been so welcoming. I’m inspired by everyone’s energy, commitment, and the friendships they have formed.

In the coming years I hope to write a meaningful and helpful dissertation about sustainable design in the Borderlands. My experiences here with Border Partners and the Palomas community will be invaluable in my investigation on change in “the built environment,” the human-made space in which people live, work, and recreate daily.

Life ends, but assistance to programming continues–thanks to supporter’s help

Pat Dingels

Pat Dingels’ positive influence will continue to promote growth and assistance. [Contributed photo]

Our friends on Facebook saw Border Partners’ supporter Pat Dingels’ positive “thumb’s up” frequently. No matter what the status update, we could count on her “liking” our news about Palomas Oilcolth Designs. Her encouragement was unflagging, and she was a good customer of their products, too. When we received word of her death last month, we grieved. But Pat’s support of our programming continues, nevertheless, and in a unique way.

One of our unfulfilled wishes of recent years has been for a golf cart. We can envision so many practical uses for this simple form of transportation in the town of Puerto Palomas, a place where many people don’t own personal cars. When we learned that Pat bequeathed her golf cart to us, we hastened to transport it from it’s storage place in Arizona to its new home, serving residents on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Because this golf cart is electric, it roughly costs only 2 cents per mile to operate. Our truck, in comparison, costs about 20 cents per mile to operate. Although the cart must be recharged after about 80 miles of use, it will still save us money. Moreover, it uses no gas and produces no emissions.

golf cart

Gardening coordinators are eager to use the golf cart to visit home gardens in Palomas.

Our new golf cart will allow Border Partners’ local coordinators to get about town efficiently: be it to visit gardens, get to meetings or assist local residents in need. Since our mission promotes sustainable technology, we plan to equip the cart with solar panels, so it won’t need fossil fuel. Palomas’s bountiful sunshine can power the cart’s trips about town. Then, it will leave no carbon footprint at all!

When people die, their influence to effect good continues nevertheless in the memorial assistance that is contributed in their name. No surprise that people have designated Border Partners as the beneficiary of memorials in Pat’s name. This funding will promote a better standard of living for people on the border who, through no fault of their own, lack many advantages. Additionally, her family donated to us her clothing as well as dishes, pots and pans and garden tools.

The sad occasion of Pat Dingel’s death calls us to thank her and her family for their ongoing support that we so deeply appreciate. Our work, now newly augmented, will continue. And, while it is true that no one can take Pat’s place, we hope that the inspiration of Pat’s example will inspire us all to remember those less fortunate and redouble our efforts to assist them.

 

Palomas health promotoras open a new office

new office

Promotoras of health in Palomas, a grassroots corps of community volunteers to improve health, have opened a new office, providing a permanent presence. They provide health services such as blood pressure monitoring, as seen here.

The community health promoters (promotoras) of Puerto Palomas have opened an office to serve as their headquarters as well as an office from which they will serve the public. Centrally located in Palomas, the office allows the promotoras to offer regular office hours to the public. Promotoras will provide health services of blood sugar monitoring and blood pressure testing and provide health information there. All services and information are free of charge.

The new promotora office is clean, attractive and outfitted with health equipment and literature. Tables and chairs offer an environment conducive to health education meetings. With a computer and printer, the promotoras are able to produce documents and administrate their program. For a virtual tour of the new health office, visit our photo set on Flickr.

posting signIn a small community like Palomas, word of mouth will quickly spread the news of this new source of health assistance, consultation and first aid. However the promotoras also proactively engaged local artist Dagoberto Rodriguez to produce a display sign to clearly designate their office. We were on the scene to see the sign installed.

The promotoras designed a plan of action for 2014 which outlines their ambitious goals and upcoming activities. Ongoing fundraising will let them carry out their projects and potentially add internet service to their office. Promotoras seek that ongoing financial support from the Palomas business community.

The promotoras have also done a remarkable job of securing the contributions of pro bono services for Palomas children in need from local dentists and opticians.

The Columbus Luna County Palomas Binational Health Council (COBINA) provides major funding for the promotoras activities in Palomas.  Border Partners supplements that funding by matching the contributions that the promotoras themselves raise in Palomas. Border Partners is proud to provide financial help to underwrite these activities that improve public health. Donations to Border Partners that are designated to further the promotoras‘ work are welcome.

WILL volunteers’ home repair project benefits a Palomas family

home repair recipients

WILL volunteers and Border Partners gave a single-parent family’s home some much-needed repairs.

Volunteers from Silver City, NM teamed with Border Partners to complete an intensive one-day home repair project and improve one family’s life. Volunteers from the Western Institute for Lifelong Learning [WILL], a grass-roots education organization, repaired one Puerto Palomas family’s substandard home last week.

Six WILL workers, many of whom were new volunteers for us, met us in downtown Palomas midmorning on January 29. Each volunteer contributed not only their time but also a stipend of $20 for home repair supplies and costs.

towel on holeBorder Partners staffer Marisol Guillen sifted through many needs in Palomas and selected a family whose home lacked a functioning roof and several panes of window glass. Winter cold also poured past the orange bath towel that futilely hung across the six square-foot hole in the small building’s rear wall.

The eldest son of this single-parent family died last year when the teen’s sports injury, untreated due to the family’s lack of funds, led to hip cancer. Grief and its accompanying depression ensued. The mother and her four surviving children became further mired as trauma left them unable to cope with stresses of daily life.

workers at work

Workers together tackled a challenge, and accomplished the most urgent repairs to the humble adobe home.

WILL volunteer workers–assisted by Border Partners personnel, volunteers from Palomas, and family members–moved four truckloads of rubble and debris from the yard to the landfill. This was a monumental improvement for a family lacking transportation. They filled the gaping hole in the rear wall and replaced or patched the broken window panes.

So much water entered the home through its leaky roof that the family had actually installed an eave trough inside the home to collect it. Volunteers covered that roof with corrugated tin panels and removed tree branches that had damaged the roofing. They also trimmed tree branches that had entwined with the wire delivering electricity to the house.

This home repair project reinforces Border Partners’ conviction that cooperative efforts can improve life in the border community. A slide show of images from the work repair day [CLICK HERE] is posted on the Border Partners Flickr account.

We heartily thank WILL volunteers Eric Ockerhausen, Dominick Bassi, Andy Payne, Chris Allen, Ann Hedlund, and Tom Bates.

WILL offers ongoing learning experiences for learners of any age. A second WILL February 21. In addition, a WILL tour of our projects in Palomas is slated for March 7. WILL originates in Grant County, New Mexico and is a partner of Western New Mexico University in Silver City.