Health Promoters Prepare Palomas for COVID-19

Border Partners’ staff load food supplement boxes for distribution to families in need to strengthen their health and potential resistance to the pandemic.

We have good news: there have been no cases of COVID19 in Palomas (as of June 15). And, it may be, at least in part, due to the work of the Border Partners’ health promoters (promotoras). In March, when the virus became a threat, they quickly changed the focus of their work to helping needy families and vulnerable seniors weather this crisis.

Since then, thanks to the Paso del Norte Foundation and to Border Partners’ generous supporters, the four health promoters, assisted by Juan Rascon, have:

delivered a box of basic groceries and fresh vegetables, every two weeks to 20 needy families;

delivered a hot meal, five days each week, to 20 vulnerable seniors;

offered information about how to avoid contracting the COVID19 virus to the families and the seniors;

● opened their office Monday through Friday from 9 am to 12 pm, to offer screenings for depression and glucose levels and basic information about how to stay healthy during the pandemic, and

● earlier this year, helped the Mexican transit police screen people arriving into Palomas from the U.S.

In addition, they will soon be able to begin distributing masks. So far, this has been a missing piece of their prevention work. Now mask distribution will happen thanks to cooperation among three different groups begun under Border Partners! The women of Palomas OIlcloth Designs have agreed to make 200 masks at their cost. The Mexican nonprofit group, Amistad por Salud sin Fronteras, formed by local people involved with Border Partners agreed to pay for them. The Border Partners promotoras will distribute them!

One of the health promoters in Palomas, Gricelda Loya Loya, describes the great impact all this support makes on just one of those twenty families who receive the grocery supplement box:

One family in need, led by a single mom, holds their supplement box with appreciation and relief.

One of the families is that of “Doña L.” [editor’s note: name withheld]. She’s 70 years old and lives alone with her four grandchildren who are between two and nine years of age. Her situation is sad. She doesn’t have a job to support her grandchildren. And her daughter, the children’s mother, has been missing for two years. Since then, Doña L. has taken care of the children. She collects aluminum cans to sell so she can buy food. Every time we promotoras come to deliver the box of groceries, the children run out to meet us. They’re so happy to receive it. Doña L. thanks us very much for this help.”

Now, the COVID-19 situation has negatively affected her ability to support the grandchildren. She’s unable to find enough aluminum cans on the streets due to the shortages in the food and beverage supply chain. So, we promotoras are very happy to be able to help Doña L.. And, we’re pleased to see that the children so clearly appreciate this help that we bring to their family.”

Border Partners staff display the support that food baskets provide families in need. Their devoted work and the financial backing of our grantors and supporters make this possible.

Our new general manager: Melissa Reyes

Melissa Reyes, Border Partners’ General Manager

by Melissa Reyes

I was born and raised in Colorado, however, my parents are both Mexican and my first language growing up was Spanish. I am so proud of my roots and I hold this very close to my heart. I love Mexico and I am really humbled to be working with Border Partners and being of service for my people, “mis paisanos.”

When I decided to move to Deming, NM I would never have thought that working for a non-profit organization would be an option. The more research and information I received about Border Partners, the more passionate I became about being a part of this amazing project. Serving others and being a resource for my community is my passion and a responsibility I do not take lightly.

After meeting the board members and the founders of Border Partners, I was left speechless for their passion, unselfishness and help they offer to our neighboring country. How they created and established a helping hand without expecting anything in return!

I look forward to a bright future with Border Partners!

Hello from the Health Promoters in Palomas!

promotora group

Palomas health promoters 2020. Back row, L to R:  Juana Flores, Gloria Aquilar, Gricelda Loya.  Front row, L to R: Victoria Ibarra and Cruz Espino

We’d like to introduce you to Border Partners’ Health Promoters (Promotoras). Thanks to your support, they’re active every day in Palomas helping keep people healthy. They do important work and deserve to have us all sing their praises!

Gricelda Loya

“Hello! My name is Gricelda Loya. I’m 34 years old, the same number of years that I’ve lived in Palomas! Yes, I was born here. I have four children. And they drive me to do my work each day. My three boys are 19, 16 and 8. My daughter is 11 years old. I also take care of my sister’s children. These six children are my motivation to teach residents of my community to maintain a healthy lifestyle and take care of their health. Thanks to Border Partners and your donations, this is possible.”

Gricelda (center) pictured with her children

“I was part of the original group of promotoras trained by Border Partners in 2012 and have continued working until now. We receive more training each year. For example, after we were trained about how to teach teenagers about healthy sexuality, another promotora and I started classes on sexuality for teenagers in Palomas.”

“My other job for Border Partners is Director of the Education Center where we have computers for people to use and classes to instruct them on their use.”

“I’m very grateful to be part of this great family called Border Partners. I like to learn and share what I learn, and I also love to help vulnerable people.”

Juana Flores

Juana

juana Flores bestows an award to a child for his healthy activity.

“Hello! My name is Juana Flores. I was born in the Valley of Zaragoza, Chihuahua, MX. I’m 45 years old. My husband and I have three children: two sons and a daughter. I’ve lived in Palomas for ten years and worked with Border Partners since February 2011, when I started helping with the garden program. When I began, the United States had just deported me to Mexico. I was very sad to be separated from my children who stayed in the U.S. with my mother. Working has helped me a lot.”

“I’ve been a promotora since 2012 and have learned many skills. I like my work because, in my community, families do not have a healthy diet and don’t get enough exercise. I think that, due to our health promotion work, people have learned a lot about nutrition and health. As a health promoter, I focus on learning about different health issues so I can teach others.”

“My favorite thing I do as a promotora is to teach Zumba classes!”

“My other area of work for Border Partners is supervising the garden program which coordinates very well with what we teach people about nutrition and the importance of eating healthy food.”

“Thank you for supporting our work in Palomas and for your confidence in me.”

Victoria (Vicky) Ibarra

Vicky ibarra

Delivering fresh garden vegetables to elderly residents is one of Vicky’s tasks.

“Hello, my name is Victoria (Vicky) Ibarra. I am originally from Oaxaca de Juárez. I’ve lived in Palomas for about nine years. My one daughter, Jennifer, is 15 years old and is a student at the College Preparatory High School. My husband, David, is a volunteer firefighter here in Palomas. We both like to serve the community.

Vicky grabs a selfie as she teaches a nutrition class to Palomas students.

Five years ago, I joined the Border Partners’ Health Promoters. I like this work that we do for the community, serving our older adults, children, and families who want our health knowledge. Before I came to Palomas, I worked as a volunteer Health Promoter in my rural community in southern Mexico. To all those people who support us, I want to thank you for everything you do for us. My family, also sends a cordial greeting.

Gloria Aguilar

gloria

Gloria snaps a selfie of the zumba class she’s leading.

“Hola! My name is Gloria Alicia Aguilar. I am from Chihuahua, Chihuahua, MX and have lived in Palomas for 23 years. I have four children – two daughters who are 20 and 19. My two sons are both 12! I am interested in educating my neighbors about health because my second daughter has had many illnesses since she the time she was born. Because I did not want to take her to the hospital so many times, I learned ways to take care of her at home (injections, using a nebulizer etc.) “

gloria family

Gloria (center) pictured with her family

“I love my job as a Health Promoter for Border Partners! It is difficult to choose one thing I like best but I would say knowing that I can help so many people to have a better quality of life is very pleasing to me.”

“For all the people that support Border Partners, I have so much gratitude for the great work you do for my community. It’s incredible to see the number of people who benefit thanks to you!”

Cruz Espino

“Hola! Hello! My name is Cruz Delia Simental Espino. I was born in the NIcolas Bravo municpality of Madera, Chihuahua, MX but I grew up in Cuidad Cuauhtémoc. I have lived for 30 years in Palomas and have two children, a son who is 29 and a daughter who is 20 years old. My work has always been helping people in my community. I feel very proud to belong to Border Partners because, like me, we all care about the welfare of people without discrimination. I am grateful for you believing in me and giving me the opportunity to perform my work in the interest of the people of Palomas. (The person who gives from the heart, multiplies with love.)”

Editor’s note: Cruz works with the Promotoras for about half of each year and works the other months in Deming at an agricultural processing plant. We first met her when she organized a group of neighbors to stop cars from driving through a city park near her house by digging a trench and standing old tires up in it to create a barrier. At the time, Border Partners was putting in play equipment including a climbing wall at that park.

Man now walks with Border Partners’ help

promotora delivers walker

Promotora Gricelda Loya (L) and senior citizen/Palomas resident José (R) both beam joyful smiles as he receives the walker Border Partners arranged for him and delivered to his home.

Some years ago, Palomas resident José was run over in an accident. He suffered several fractures: his hip, knees, and leg. As a result, he suffered significant pain. After mending, he had tremendous difficulty with his mobility.

Border Partners’ health promoters (promotoras) met José at one of their monthly gatherings for Palomas senior citizens. They recognized his challenges with physical mobility. They saw that the accident had also limited his independence. Worse, the wheels of his walker didn’t turn freely, they jammed up–like those on a balky shopping cart.

One promotora, Griselda Loya, kept in close touch with José. While texting with him, she learned that his rickety walker malfunctioned so badly that it made him fall. He couldn’t trust it to support him. Now, he told her, he was afraid to move independently at all.

Walkers aren’t readily available in Palomas. So, Griselda reached out to Border Partners co-founder, Helena Myers. Helena assured Griselda that she’d do her best to find a walker.

And, she did. After a successful hunt, Helena immediately brought that used walker to the port of entry where Griselda and her fellow BP staffer Juan met her. In a delightful “Border Partners” twist, they paused only long enough to ask a Mexican official to snap a photo of their new prize. Then they brought it to Jose.

“Now, I’ll fly!”

When Jose saw the walker, his face beamed!

“Now I’m going to fly around Palomas!” he exclaimed, giggling with glee.

Secure with a walker that worked, José would be able to walk again. He can participate in church, go to the store. And, best of all, he can move safely inside his house.

For Gricelda, helping folks in her community is a beautiful experience.

“It brings satisfaction that no words can express. Seeing José’s happy face and feeling his happiness is the most beautiful thing a person can experience,” she unequivocally stated.

For Gricelda, belonging to the Border Partners family, brings her many experiences that touch her heart. Yes, some are sad. But, in this case, sharing José’s joy at seeing his new walker and knowing that she was instrumental to help make that possible–well, it was a beautiful event.

Health Promoters Alleviate Hunger in Palomas

Border Partners promotoras cook and deliver fresh, healthy meals to Palomas seniors each weekday to 25 elders like this woman who gratefully receives her daily meal.

Border Partners’ health promoters (promotoras) are taking a central role in the community response to COVID-19. Their recognized expertise and the relationships they’ve formed through the years position them to lead and help. Our last post explained how the promotoras have assumed new, extraordinary roles. They work in association with other key players, including the Palomas Health Center, to protect the health of Palomas residents.

In addition, promotoras continue their regular duties. They maintain regular hours at their permanent office in town. People can call or stop in to monitor blood pressure and blood sugar levels. This addresses underlying issues of heart disease and diabetes that can turn COVID-19 deadly. 

Another critical health issue promotoras encounter is that of hunger and food insecurity. The economic downturn affects elderly, children and poor households in Palomas, a community where reliable, permanent employment is difficult to find. The promotoras have responded.

Food Distribution Effort

Promotoras are confidentially providing basic food assistance to the most food insecure households in Palomas. These boxes of food purchased at Del Sol grocery are ready for delivery.

Twice a month, promotoras deliver a food supplement to the most vulnerable households in Palomas. First, they collaborated to identify households apparently in need. Then, they followed up with a discreet inquiry to each household to determine their level of need. Twenty designated as the most food-insecure now receive a bi-monthly food supplement box. 

Promotora Gricelda Loya contacted Palomas grocery store El Sol for help. They agreed to provide food at wholesale prices for this project. We’re pleased to patronize this generous local business. Moreover, buying locally relieves Border Partners of the expense of traveling to Juarez. And, because travel during COVID-19 is dangerous, it also keeps our staff safer. El Sol is perfectly positioned for this project, and we’re so grateful to partner with them.

Meals to Elders Continue

In addition, isolated, elderly Palomas residents lack support services to help them survive. So, each weekday promotoras deliver them a homemade meal. In the Food On Meals project that is sponsored by the Paso Del Norte Health Foundation’s HEAL grant, we’ve now increased the number of older adults we serve. Promotoras cook and deliver 25 meals during the COVID-19 contingency.  

Unbounded Gratitude

Border Partners’ health promoters, in partnership with Palomas’ El Sol grocery store, deliver bimonthly food supplement boxes to local households in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The people who receive food assistance are profoundly grateful. 

They tell the promotoras:

  • “Thank you very much for helping the community.”
  • “It is so good that there is an agency that supports the community.”
  • “I am so grateful that you have considered my family for support.”
  • “Thank you so much for caring for vulnerable families!” 

The promotoras are able to do this work because the generosity of Border Partners donors supplements funding from Paso Del Norte. Donor donations purchase food and pay transportation expenses.

The food distribution will continue until July 3 or for as long as we have the funding to support it. Border Partners is operating under an emergency three month contingency plan due to COVID-19. Thanks for helping the promotoras prevent hunger and promote health through your support and donations!

Promotoras fight COVID-19 at border, in Palomas and beyond

covid19

Promotoras in personal protective equipment monitor temperatures at the port of entry.

promotoras fight covid19

Palomas Promotora Facebook post April 3, 2020

The Health Promoters (promotoras) in Palomas are now at the center of the local response to the COVID-19 virus. They work with the Palomas Health Center and government officials to soften the potential impact of the virus. The goal is to mitigate its spread. 

The health promoters (promotoras‘) training and experience prompted the project supervisor of the Paso del Norte Health Foundation to recommend their service in the fight of COVID-19. Thus, the Palomas Health Center engaged promotoras’ help and support during the COVID-19 contingency.

Promotoras work three hour shifts on days they can assist this effort. As part of their normal activity, they monitor temperatures of older adults in the Border Partners’ senior citizen program and of those who visit the office. 

Extraordinary Duties

But, in addition to their normal duties, the promotoras are screening people as they enter Mexico. Working with the Palomas police, the promotoras survey all border crossers. They check for anyone with elevated temperatures. Their presence supports the government health truck stationed immediately inside the Mexican border.

Any Mexican resident who registers a fever is placed on a two week quarantine. Border crossers from the United States who register a fever are turned back. Promotoras advise border crossers who present with any virus symptoms during the last seven days to self-quarantine at home for 14 days. They advise anyone who develops active symptoms to call 911 in their home community and follow local instructions.

Health Education 

The promoters provide prevention information for COVID-19 on their Facebook page. They meet with concerned people in their office, at the local health clinic. They respond to phone calls of residents who request information as well. The importance of social distancing and washing hands is their key focus. 

Nutrition Supplementation

Another component of the promotoras work is the delivery of food boxes. Twenty particularly needy families were identified as extremely food insecure. The promotoras deliver supplemental food allocations. In addition, they continue to deliver meals and monitor the health of many Palomas senior citizens.  We’ll will write more about these activities in our next website post, coming soon.

Important Message from Border Partners’ President

Paul Dulin

Paul Dulin, President
Border Partners Board of Directors

A note to all you great supporters:

These times are challenging for all of you. Now the COVID-19 Pandemic surges into the New Mexico-Chihuahua border region. As a binational assistance program, Border Partners faces a real challenge.

So, we’ve retargeted to fight the pandemic.
Our Aim: To soften COVID-19’s impact on the people of Palomas and its surrounding communities.

Our Palomas personnel designed a three-month emergency plan in response to the inevitable spread of Coronavirus. We no longer organize activities in Palomas that require people to gather in groups. We sadly discontinued Zumba and nutrition classes, bicycle rallies, and construction projects that require more than a single worker.
Our personnel in Palomas now concentrate their efforts to help:

  • people have enough food (especially vulnerable seniors).
  • residents cope with the pandemic
    -by distributing up-to-date information on how to avoid getting the virus.
    -by working with the Palomas Health Center to detect and treat infected people (especially those with pre-existing conditions).
  • our home gardens continue to provide nutrition.

We hope all of you and all our donors understand: we must react to the reality of the Pandemic. We want to ensure the health of our personnel and the people in Palomas. As we partner with local organizations, we’ll continue to provide for the less fortunate.

We especially want to thank all of you who support our work in Palomas and surrounding border communities!

Please continue to support our projects and keep yourselves safe, sane, and healthy in this difficult time!

Paul Dulin, President
Border Partners

2019 Review and What’s Next!

Dear Friends,

Border Partners had a productive 2019! Our new General Manager, Samantha Apodaca, completed her first year in the position and has expanded our programming with new funding opportunities. We are excited to share what we accomplished last year and what we have in store for the new year! 

What we accomplished in 2019!

  • Border Partners raised $10,196 at the 2019 Give Grandly Event! Thank you to all who donated on the Giving Day!
  • We were awarded our fifth year of the Paso del Norte Health Foundation’s HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Lifestyle) Grant!
  • We were also awarded Paso del Norte’s IGNITE Grant! The funding will support a 6 week Youth Art Summer Program this summer. Taught by a local Palomas artist, children of all ages will produce multiple murals/ art installations in the community.
  • We have expanded our school nutrition lunch program to TWO schools! Now, over 200 students are fed healthy foods every day.
  • We started a NEW program, serving 15 Palomas seniors and disabled residents a daily, nutritious lunch. 
  • We hosted two Health Fairs! The first was paired with a Sports fair, where children and adults participated in soccer, basketball, and volleyball tournaments. The fairs also had free healthy burritos, health screenings, hair cuts, Zumba exercise classes, art projects, and youth activities.
  • The Border Partners Annual Summer School was a success! Over 80 Palomas youth attended Art, Physical Activity, Reading, Health, Gardening, Crafts, and English classes in our Education Center.
  • In order to expand health programming, our Promotoras are now traveling to the surrounding towns and villages to train locals in health and gardening.  
  • The Promotoras are continuing their health outreach in schools by teaching workshops about the importance of healthy eating and physical activity.
  • Twice a month, our Promotoras host local seniors at the community comedor to share healthy meals and fun activities.
  • Our hardworking staff has built 10 more greenhouses for Palomas families and schools!

Help Border Partners continue

We are upon our 12th year of helping those in need. Your support is invaluable to our organization and the people of Palomas. Please help to continue Border Partners’ efforts by spreading the word about our mission and/or sending a donation of any amount. Your gift will have a direct and meaningful impact on many people’s lives.

NOTE: our mailing address has changed to PO Box 1435 Deming, NM 88031 or donate online.

 

Palomas Teens Embark on School Mural Project

mural

Palomas High School students (L) receive directions and materials from the Border Partners team leaders (R) as they begin the new mural project.

mural team

Mural project leaders confer to begin working with Palomas teen artists.

The Palomas High School Mural Project is a go! With help from local artist Dagoberto

Dagoberto

Local muralist Dagoberto Rodriguez Carrasco helps the students envision their mural possibilities

Rodriguez Carrasco and our very own Promotora, Gricelda Loya, these students are going to paint a series of murals in their school. Each muralist-to-be received their first sketchbook and are currently taking drawing classes to gear up for their first mural.

For updates on this project visit our website or check our Facebook , Instagram, and follow #BorderPartners.

We’re proud participants of Give Grandly!, the community’s annual giving event! Learn about the exciting events taking place on May 11 at givegrandly.org. Visit our donation page at https://givegrandly.civicore.com/borderpartners beginning May 4 to schedule a donation to appear on May 11! A generous supporter has promised to double all the funds that we receive on May 4. Your contribution will mean so much to us. Thanks for your help.