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

Give Grandly on May 11 to Help the Border!

Give Grandly 2019

Join us on May 11, 2019 for Give Grandly: 24 hours of giving to make our Southwestern border region stronger and create a thriving community for all. Give Grandly brings the region together as one community: raising money and awareness for local nonprofits during the 24-hour online giving challenge! Border Partners’ participation makes it easy for you to help others.

How to Give Grandly!

*Supporters may donate to Border Partners at Visit that page between May 4-11 to make a donation. Beginning May 4 you’ll be able to schedule donations to be given on May 11. Remember, only donations scheduled for or given on Give Grandly, May 11th, will count toward meeting the $250 fundraising match we’ll earn for contributions made on May 11. So make your donation go farther by donating either on May 11 or by advance-scheduling your donation to appear on May 11.

Your Contribution Will Double

We’re excited to announce that a generous supporter has promised to match our entire Give Grandly! amount! This will double every contribution we receive through Give Grandly! 

Give Grandly!–Live

You can also join us in person at the live Give Grandly! event. It  will coincide with the opening day of the Farmers’ Market and be located next to their space in Silver City, NM. We’ll meet you at our booth. We can accept donations and fill you in on our good work and how you might volunteer. We’ll be at the Farmers Market off Bullard, between 7th and 8th Street from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 11, 2019.

We’re also participating in Give Grandly! in Deming at the Copper Kettle Coffee Co. from 9:30 AM-2:30 PM. More info on the poster below:

Give Grandly 2019 Deming


Women and Inheritance Issues in Mexico, a Focus Group Report

inheritance law

A focus group in Palomas considered how Mexican inheritance law affects women’s empowerment.

Land and inheritance rights are a key factor in empowering rural women. In Mexico, the situation is unfair and unjust. Border Partners convened a focus group in Palomas this week to learn more about it. Input from this meeting went to a group in New York that’s preparing for the 2018 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The meeting, held March 11-23, will focus on challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality. The commission will emphasize the empowerment of rural women and girls.

One woman in the group immediately shared her own personal situation. She’s waited nine years for an inheritance. But she still hasn’t received title to the land she should inherit. She’s unable to meet all the legal requirements. The process is unnecessarily slow. Key figures (officials) change, thereby delaying, disrupting or derailing the process.

Contextual Problems Affect Inheritance Law

Our group didn’t really complain about the law itself. Instead, it expressed more concern with how the law was so arbitrarily applied. This manifested itself in two particular ways they specified:
The first difficulty is that women are treated differently than men by the courts. Mexican culture is predominantly a male-dominant, machismo culture. Men receive preferential treatment. Officials don’t apply the law equally across genders.

A second ongoing problem is that corruption is endemic. Specifically, the focus group agreed that often people seeking court action must unofficially pay something to officials to get action, even though they have the correct legal papers. This sort of bribe has a name in Spanish: a mordida, or “bite,” referring metaphorically to the wound of an animal bite.

Other Issues

Legal paperwork is processed in larger cities that are distant from from rural women. This sets up more handicaps. Rural women often can’t travel to those larger, distant cities. It’s expensive. This is a hurdle too high for many to surmount.

Inheritance laws also hurt women who’re not legally married to their partner who dies. Many Mexican couples are common law couples. Marriage is expensive. So couples don’t undertake it. Absence of laws recognizing the legitimacy of the common law commitment hurts many women.

Rural women often don’t have resources to hire an attorney to represent them. Therefore, their case becomes very difficult to win in court. Legal representation is expensive. And, it isn’t provided for those who can’t afford it.

The situation of indigenous women is no better than non indigenous. In some instances, groups may advocate for the rights of indigenous. In the case of such advocacy, an indigenous woman may have an advantage. If there’s no such advocacy present, an indigenous woman faces the same situation that all women face.

How Border Partners Makes a Difference in Puerto Palomas


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.



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 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.

Border Partners celebrates seven years of accomplishment


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

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

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.