Coronavirus Update from Palomas

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

News of the virus is not good this week from Palomas. Numbers of new cases rise each week, as is similar to the situation all along the border. Numbers of new cases are rising both on the Mexico and the U.S. sides of the border.

Last week, Border Partners heard that there were about 40 active cases in Palomas. It hit our organization directly: one of our staffers and her four children contracted coronavirus. There are most likely many more cases but the government isn’t releasing numbers. The town does not have testing equipment or any way to do contact tracing.
Palomas has always been a bad place to get sick because there is no hospital there.  The closest one is in Deming, NM, but that is only available to those who have a passport.
Our staff have had to cancel zumba classes, the senior citizens meeting that gathers single elderly for socialization, and a health fair. This is because no meetings of five or more attendees are allowed now. 
Despite all this, garden activities are continuing and staff members are cooking and delivering meals five days a week to seniors.  Needy families continue coming to the Border Partners’ office to pick up boxes of food as they need them.
In hard times like these, we’re more grateful than ever for your support. Indeed! It’s what keeps us going!

Good News: Projects Starting Again!

Because the numbers of COVID cases have stayed low in Palomas for the last several weeks, the government is allowing Palomas businesses to open with reduced capacity.  Border Partners is starting to resume classes, too–with safety precautions in place.  


Zumba classes have resumed in Palomas, providing free exercise in Palomas to combat disease.

Zumba classes are happening again every weekday evening outdors in the Border Partners’ Sports Center. There is also an indoor Zumba class every day with a limit of ten people, spaced throughout the facility. The Promotoras will also resume their senior workshop and lunch this week.

The schools in Palomas remain closed. So, because of that we’re unable to resume our projects and activities for children there now.

60 families receive food baskets

The Border Partners Palomas staff organized another food distribution last week!  A very generous donation funded the outreach. Peppers’ Supermarket in Deming, NM again granted us a 50% discount, effectively doubling the amount of groceries we were able to distribute in Palomas.

food distribution MX

Food baskets ready for distribution to families in greatest need in Palomas.


Palomas Staffer Juanita Flores hustles through the give-away site.

Give-away stations of specific provisions facilitated an efficient distribution. In addition to groceries, we also gave away notebooks, pencils and t-shirts.

COVID-19 protocols governed the project. We maintained social distance and wore masks. One door served as the designated entrance and a different door for exit, so foot traffic moved through the hall in a single direction.

Border Partners’ General Manager Melissa Reyes remarked with satisfaction afterwards:

The event was well organized by staff. Our staff, along with volunteers, did a great job in finding needy families. Everyone worked well together to smoothly carry out the distribution project event.” 

135 New fruit trees in the border community!


Juan Rascon, Melissa Reyes and Juana Flores helped transport fruit saplings from Casas Grandes north to the border community of Puerto Palomas.

Fruit trees have so many benefits! Yes, they

  • look lovely when they bloom.
  • provide nutritious fruit to harvest each year, and
  • provide much needed shade in the desert.

2020 Fruit Trees Report

Each year since 2017, Border Partners has purchased fruit tree saplings to plant around the community. Late in August, Juana Flores, our garden coordinator and Melissa Reyes, General Manager, drove to Casas Grandes, Chihuahua to pick up 135 trees for this year’s planting.

Border Partners publicized that these young trees were available to the community. Now, local families have planted all the newly-purchased pear, peach, plum and pomegranate trees  in their yards.

Fruit tree recipient

Image 1 of 5

Each family received detailed instructions about how to plant and care for the fledgling trees. This helps ensure that the fruit trees will bear well in the future.

fruit trees illustration

Newly purchased fruit trees will add 135 to the number of saplings Border Partners has brought to Palomas over the years. This tree is already producing abundantly.


Successful distribution of essential supplies in Colonia Victoria

Red-shirted workers hurry in their efforts to distribute essential food and supplies to Palomas people in need.

Last weekend, Border Partners sponsored another distribution event that made essential supplies available to people in need in Colonia Victoria, a rural town south of Palomas. The distribution started at 6 pm on Saturday, August 15. When the volunteers and workers arrived to set up, there were people already waiting in line. The fact that that line went around the block indicates the need of the people and their desire for assistance.

To keep the public safe during the pandemic, guidelines were in place. Only one member from each family could enter the building to pick up their food basket. Social distancing was enforced.

Relief workers dispensed hand sanitizer at the door. Participants also received face masks they could wear (and keep) and small hand sanitizer containers that they could take home with them. 

Food distribution

Then recipients moved to the next station to pick up a parcel of groceries. Centro de Salud of Palomas provided us with health supplements for distribution. This included folic acid, a nutritional supplement that provides iron–useful to all but especially to pregnant women. Toothbrushes they provided will replace old, ineffective brushes.


When recipients received all their supplies, there were drinks and nachos for all the people in attendance to enjoy. Thanks to an amazing team effort, no one left empty handed.

These essential food parcels and supplies reached 333 people that evening.

Distribution Donors 

School supplies

School supplies

This distribution was possible because we received donations from The Seventh-Day Hispanic Church in Deming, NM, Diaz Farms in Deming, NM, Palomas’ Centro de Salud, and Sherry Edwards. Barbara Gabioud (Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Silver City, NM) also contributed donations and gave us school supplies as well. School supplies were distributed Sunday morning.

We want to thank each of these donors and volunteers from Colonia Víctoria who helped us organize the event. They helped us secure the community building for our use at no cost. In addition, they cleaned it after we left. We’re incredibly grateful for their kindness.

View more photos from this event on our Flickr account.

team of workers

Incredible team of volunteers and workers made the evening a success.

Barbara Gabioud singlehandedly enlists support for border groups

Barbara Gabioud (right) and her supporters filled this vehicle with supplies to assist programs helping people in need in Mexico. Melissa Reyes (left), Border Partners’ General Manager, welcomes her recent contribution.

This woman deserves our recognition! One of Border Partners’ long time supporters, Barbara Gabioud, has for the last year, consistently organized major support on the border. Her donations uphold a shelter for migrant asylum-seekers in Palomas. In addition, she helps other groups doing humanitarian assistance in Mexico.

Every week she writes to her list of donors. In the beginning, she contacted members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Silver City, NM. But now her expanded donor list includes people from all over the world.

Weekly, Barbara communicates items that are immediately needed. Usually she asks for rice, black beans, eggs, water and masks. But sometimes the items are larger. Last week, for instance, she asked for a washing machine and a microwave. And, amazingly, all the items are delivered on Wednesdays to the parking lot of the Unitarian Universalist church building in Silver City. On the following days, Barbara and other volunteers travel to transport and deliver the needed supplies.

The shelter for migrants in Palomas is located on the same piece of village property where Border Partners has its community greenhouses and education center. In fact, the migrant shelter uses some of the vegetables from our greenhouses for meals. Their kitchen is in the building where Palomas OIlcloth Designs worked every week from 2009-2014.

People support her with cash contributions too. These Barbara uses to purchase supplementary food or pay expenses for the migrant center. In addition, she’s helped Border Partners and other groups. In these last months, their generosity has reached Colores United, People Helping People, Seguimos Adelante (Ciudad Juarez), Rio Grande Border Ministries (Las Cruces, NM), Border Servant Corps and Kino Border Initiative (Nogales, AZ).

Two weeks ago, Barbara delivered 200 masks, 30 surgical gowns, lots of hand sanitizer and some bleach to the Border Partners’ promotoras for distribution to people in Palomas.

Barbara says, with characteristic humility:

I have been humbled this past year at the generosity of people and, even more, by the need people have to demonstrate kindness and compassion.”

You can see photos of the donations being distributed on our Flickr account

Generous Donors Sponsor Distribution in Colonia Modelo

distribution in Colonia Modelo

Sixty families in Colonia Modelo received welcome supplies from a special food distribution sponsored by Border Partners’ donors and executed by Border Partners health workers.

On Sunday, July 19, several members of the Seventh Day Hispanic Adventist in Deming joined the Border Partners’ health workers. They traveled to Colonia Modelo, a small village 15 minutes east of Palomas. There, from 7 to 9:30 a.m., they distributed food, masks, hand sanitizer and health information to 60 families. Temperatures soared to more than 100 degrees, nevertheless, Border Partners personnel brought help from special donors to this more rural area of Chihuahua Mexico.

Sponsors Support Colonia Modelo

Generous support from donors fueled this distribution. So, we especially recognize the following sponsors:

  • Diaz beans, fresh fruit, sanitizing materials and other food from the distribution

    Members of the Seventh Day Hispanic Adventist Church donated food items for distribution.

  • Sam Diaz from Deming donated 3,000 pounds of dried pinto beans.
  • Dr. Twana Sparks, from Silver City, and several anonymous donors gave money to pay women in Palomas for making masks and to buy food.

In addition, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Silver City this week sent
200 surgical masks, 5 gallons of bleach, 30 disposable gowns and 200 small bottles of hand sanitizer for use in future distributions in Palomas and other local villages. These materials will help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In this area with limited medical assistance, disease prevention is crucial.

Recent Situation in Chihuahua

High temperatures, little employment and, now, cases of COVID-19 are diagnosed in Palomas. With these difficult stressors, this summer has become an exceptionally difficult time for families in Chihuahua, Mexico. As a result, Border Partners is stepping in to help people cope with their challenging situations. For example, this special distribution in Colonia Modelo is one assistance in response to current needs.

distribution workers

Distribution workers in Colonia Modelo on July 19

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 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 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.