Intern boosts Border Partners’ Effectiveness in Palomas

Hi Everyone! My name is Lily Eichorst, and I am Border Partners’ new intern in Palomas. I want to tell you all a little bit about me, why I am here, and what I am doing:


I am originally from a little town in northern Wisconsin, but for the last few years I have been studying International Relations at Karlshochschule International University in Karlsruhe, Germany. Prior to commencing my undergraduate studies, I spent a semester enrolled in an international studies program at the International People’s College in Denmark and the following several months volunteering with an NGO from the refugee aid sector in Serbia. Most recently, I was fortunate enough to spend a semester in Argentina immersed in Spanish, studying Latin American economics and environmental sociology. I am passionate about humanitarianism, community building, and facilitating intercultural exchange and dialogue.

Focus and Intent

Lily Eichorst

Lily Eichorst

Addressing border-specific issues that arise in these particularly unique contexts around the world has been a key focus of my academic and professional life so far. I have a keen interest in forced migration and international refugee law, and hope to center on these interest areas as I write my Bachelor thesis and begin graduate studies next year.

I will be with Border Partners for the next few months completing my internship. After just a couple of weeks here I can say there is nowhere else I’d rather be! The opportunity to engage with an array of diverse projects on the ground, to connect with the passionate members of the community in Palomas, and to help with whatever I can is such a privilege.

So, you’ll be hearing more from me as I take on some of Border Partners’ social media pages, participate in daily affairs and projects, and improve my Spanish-English translation skills!

Profiles of the People Who Lead Our Programming

The heart of any organization is the people that commit to serving its broader mission. Here at Border Partners, we are proud to count passionate and dedicated people among our staff. In recognition of all their hard work, we would like to highlight each of them and give an overview of what they do day-to-day to realize our diverse array of projects in Palomas. This month, we will feature profiles on four of our staff members, with the rest following next month. So, let’s get to know our crew!

Juan Rascon, Border Partners General Manager

Juan Rascon, General Manager / Gerente general

Serving with Border Partners since 2013 and celebrating his 10-year work anniversary this year, Juan Rascon has undertaken an array of roles throughout that period. He began working in construction of sustainable papercrete blocks. Then, he oversaw the opening of the Education Center, supervising daily operations and offering basic English classes.

As time went on, he took on more responsibility as a primary language translator. Eventually Juan coordinated the many projects in Palomas and worked in administration and operation of finances. Last year, after a period as Assistant General Manager, Juan assumed the role of General Manager of Border Partners.

When asked what he most enjoys about the work through his many years with Border Partners, Juan responded: “I think the success of our work is because we have so many different projects that meet a wide range of needs in the community. I am most passionate about seeing the gratitude of those who participate in our programs.”

Aside from his responsibilities as General Manager, Juan lives in Palomas with his wife Carina and two children Jose Luis and Juan. His family has a soft spot for animals and have rescued several dogs and cats over the years. He describes himself as “an aficionado of everything to do with mechanics and cars.” He likes to spend his free time riding his motorcycle and spending quality time with family.

Victoria Ibarra, Coordinator of the Promotoras

Viky Ibarra, Coordinator of the Promotoras

Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, Victoria “Viky” Ibarra arrived in Palomas 12 years ago and has been with Border Partners for 11 of those years. She works as the coordinator of the health promoters, or ‘las promotoras,’ who work daily in Palomas to improve the health of people in the community. As coordinator, she tracks expenses, makes the schedule, files monthly reports, and visits local schools to promote public health awareness and healthy eating.

Viky stressed the importance of the healthy and friendly work environment at Border Partners when asked about job satisfaction. She jests: “Aqui nos queremos; no nos gritamos!” (“Here we love one another; we don’t shout at each other!”) She finds meaning in the work through contact with her community and in the opportunity to help and serve them. Besides working for Border Partners, she also acts as secretary for the volunteer fire department in Palomas, where her husband is a firefighter.

Viky lives full time in Palomas with her husband,  her older daughter and her almost-2-year-old baby, Emmanuel. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and visiting her many nieces and nephews.

Arcelia Amaya: Promotora and Head of Cleaning

Arcelia Amaya Rivas, Health Promoter
/ Promotora de Salud

Arcelia Amaya is a recent addition to Border Partners, joining the team in January 2023 as a health promoter. She works as cleaning coordinator for the promotoras to maintain cleanliness in the workplace. In addition, she is a certified Zumba instructor and offers classes to women in the community each morning from Monday to Friday at Border Partners’ headquarters.

Of the short time she’s worked here, Arcelia says: “I enjoy how we work as a team. I get along well with my colleagues. And, all the knowledge I’ve gained is very useful.”

She lists workplace harmony, the connection with older people in the community, and the services Border Partners provides as the aspects of her job she enjoys most.

Arcelia lives in Palomas with her 10-year old daughter Ingrid and operates a water purifying business alongside her job with Border Partners. She is a successful local entrepreneur and aspires to have a prosperous business that can help many people. In her free time, she enjoys giving services at her local church, spending time with her daughter, and staying active.

Joel Carreon Minjares, Director of Gardening, a.k.a. “Profe”

Not only has Joel “Profe” (short for “Professor”) Carreon Minjares been working with Border Partners for over two years as the director of the community gardening project. He’s also the director of the local university preparatory school in Palomas, where he has worked for 28 years. Native to Palomas, generations of his family hail from there, and he has served his community in many capacities over the years.

Joel Carreón, Botanist-Garden Specialist and Coordinator, Coordinador y Especialista en Jardineria

With Border Partners, Joel is passionate about all projects related to sustainability. Right now, he’s working on a collaboration with local students to promote and experiment with sustainable building materials. Further, he’s working to acquire water filtration devices that can help stem the issue of contaminated water common in the region near Palomas. He sees finding new ways to adapt to climate change as a dynamic process. He’s experimenting currently with a process to plant trees in Palomas that will require less water. This is because the issue of overconsumption of water in the agricultural sector is a grave environmental danger. His overarching aim in all this, he says, is to “prepare the next generation of students for the future of environmental and climate change.”

Aside from working with Border Partners, Joel teaches physics and ecology in addition to his responsibilities as director at the high school in Palomas. He is passionate about preparing students for university. In his free time Joel runs a group that provides extra help to students interested in attending university.

Joel was educated himself as an animal agriculture technician. He has three grown children and lives in Palomas with his wife. Above all, he emphasizes, he is most passionate about “developing projects to improve and protect the environment.”


Each staff member of Border Partners forms an integral part of our operations on the ground in Palomas and in ensuring the long-term success of our projects. We are so grateful for the work that they do and the passion they bring to their community!

What a Candy Bar Sale Reveals about Life in Palomas

In a bountiful world, some children may not find their desires easy to attain. (File illustration)

When Juan Rascon, Border Partner’s General Manager, encountered a 5-year-old boy selling candy bars in a downtown Palomas street, he agreed to purchase one. Then, he began a conversation with the lad. They exchanged names, and Juan discovered that he knew the child’s father.

“Why are you selling candy bars?” Juan inquired.

“Because I want to buy an electronic tablet,” responded the boy, “and I’m making money to buy it.”

“Tell your dad that you have a new friend named Juan Rascon. He knows me,” replied Juan as he left.

Juan returned home and consulted a few people. Among them, they found a new electronic tablet that no one was using. They charged the tablet, so it was ready to use.

Then Juan went to that family’s home and asked the father if the boy was there.

The Surprise Revealed

“Do you remember me?” Juan asked the 5 year-old.

“Yes, you’re my friend Juan.”

The two shook hands, and Juan continued: “I have a deal for you. Would you like to trade me a candy bar for a box I have for you?”

The boy looked at his dad, who commented: “Sounds like a good deal for you!”

But, turning back to Juan, he admitted, “But I’ve run out of candy bars.”

“That’s no problem,” replied Juan. “Whenever you have more, you can give me my candy bar.”

Then, Juan reached into his car, grabbed the box and presented it to the lad.

“Open it in front of your dad,” Juan suggested.

The boy’s eyes widened as he opened the box. “It’s a tablet!” he exclaimed. He teared up and hugged Juan.

The dad said, “Thank you. He’s been saving for his tablet.”

And Juan responded, “Now he can save for something else that he’d like.”

Questions without answers

When Juan was small, and growing up in Palomas, he also worked to buy things because his family was poor.

“It’s good to learn to work to buy what you need,” he told the child.

A productive life is better than an aimless one, he reasons.

As Juan reflected on this incident, we can gain some insight into Palomas life.

A 5-year-old is too little to be working. But, here in Mexico, we see that all the time. I’d rather see them selling something than doing something unproductive. If kids grow up with time on their hands and not doing anything-–that’s when they get in trouble. But his dad is teaching him how to work, so that’s good.”

“And now,” concluded Juan, “I have a new little friend.”

And, perhaps in the retelling of this story, US citizen-partners of Border Partners have gained a bit of insight into the social situation in Palomas.

Summarizing a Year’s Impact: 2022 Annual Report

When each day is full, a year can be hard to quantify. But, each year, we add up the accomplishments Border Partners rightfully claims in Palomas. Each class, each meal, each crop–they all benefit the community, as one-by-one, each individual benefits.

2022 Annual Report

The numbers tell a story of many good works done well. But behind the numbers are the untold stories of many people in need who received comfort, nutrition, skills and acceptance. 

We are only able to accomplish what others gift to us. In sharing this post, and in sharing these numbers, we humbly thank all the people and groups who have trusted us to use their generosity wisely and well. Click the image to enlarge. Alternatively, download the pdf to see it at full size. 

2022 Annual Report

2022 Annual Report

With Grateful Hearts

We’re grateful for all the good work accomplished in Palomas in 2022. But, we’re not resting. We’re looking forward. There’s much to do. This week, we’re prioritizing with our staff on-the-ground in Palomas to determine what needs we can fulfill in 2023. 

With your help, more work will be done. And Palomas will come out ahead in 2023. Thanks.

Border Partners Selects New General Manager

Juan Rascon, New General Manager for Border Partners

by Polly Edmunds

Border Partners’ Board of Directors announced that Juan Rascon, a long time staff member, advanced to and assumed the duties of General Manager on December 1. For the first time in the agency’s history, the General Manager resides in Palomas.

Juan grew up in Palomas but lived in the U.S. for many years as an adult. Soon after he returned in 2013 to help care for his mother who was ill, he began employment with Border Partners. When Melissa Reyes was hired as General Manager in March 2020, Juan rose to become the agency’s Assistant Manager. Melissa moved to Florida in March 2022. However, she continued as General Manager until the end of October this year.

In a recent interview, Juan said, “I am very excited about my new position as General Manager and looking forward to working closely with our staff in Palomas and the Board to achieve the best possible results for all of our projects.”

The Board considered various options to fill the General Manager leadership vacancy. However, they quickly determined that Juan was the best candidate for the position. One long term goal of the agency’s Board of Directors was to promote one of the staff in Palomas to the position of General Manager. This selection concretely demonstrates their commitment to building leadership from the local community. The Board is delighted to find in Juan is the skills, talents and abilities needed to carry their mission forward.

Border Partners’ staff (left to right): Jose Luis Munoz, Vicky Ibarra, Joel Carreon, Melissa Gonzales Reyes,
Carla Chavez, Maria Sustaita, Juan Rascon, and Juan Lares.


Time to Talk Helps Children in Palomas

Students who were feeling sad received a hug from their classmates, a response to the invitation of Antonia Chayrez (who is inside the children’s circle).

Border Partners sponsors a new program in Palomas that’s available to children now thanks to the generosity of our supporters. This post will introduce you to this important health initiative.

Palomas can be a very difficult place to live. There may not always be enough to eat on the table or heat in the house.  Children may not understand why their parents are worried. And for almost two years, they were not able to attend school and see their friends.

Border Partners and these children are very fortunate to have Antonia Chayrez, a certified family counselor, on our staff. She can meet with children at the two primary schools in Palomas.  Currently, she meets regularly with fifth and sixth grade classes to talk with them about understanding their emotions and using appropriate ways to express them.

Mental Health

Antonia takes time to speak to the children individually. This helps her assess their situations.

Antonia believes that mental health is a state of mental well-being. Mental health allows human beings to face moments of stress in life. And it allows them to develop their abilities to the fullest as well as to learn properly. It’s both a fundamental human right and an essential element for personal development. It’s especially important for children to have the tools early to maintain their mental health, she asserts.

She introduces a topic like anger, sadness, loneliness or frustration to the children by displaying faces that show a corresponding emotional expression. Next, she invites children to choose one face and tell her when they have felt that emotion. Then she talks to children individually about why they think they felt that way in the situation. Through these conversations, she is getting a better sense of the children’s mental and emotional health.  

She hopes to continue these meetings with the children so that she can help them recognize that emotions are a normal part of life.  Learning ways to manage and express emotions appropriately is a key to having a happy, productive life.

Antonia Chayrez leads the classroom to promote mental health of the Palomas students.


Proposed water tanks promise many benefits

water project challenge

Current water tank doesn’t hold the rain water we can harvest.

Water is a precious commodity in the desert. So, we conserve it carefully in our gardens. Right now our garden has only one 700 gallon tank (shown above) to collect rainwater from the roof of an adjacent building. One inch of rain on that 90’ by 40’ roof would collect 2,244 gallons— if we had the holding tank capacity to store it.

The average rainfall in Palomas is about 10 inches per year. Most rain comes in the summer. When it does rain, we’d like to maximize the amount of water we can collect and store.

If we don’t have rainwater, we have to use town water. That’s not a good option. Municipal water is high in salts, arsenic and nitrates. And we have to pay for it. For those reasons, we prefer to water our gardens with rainwater.

Proposed New Tanks

We’d like to build two new, bigger storage tanks. Each proposed tank is 8 feet in diameter and could hold 3,000 gallons of water. Our current tank fills up fast when it rains. And, it has no overflow system. But, each of the proposed new tanks would have an overflow system that could send any excess water through underground pipes. They would serve two of our greenhouses as well as water fruit trees on the property.

We propose tanks built of latex cement. This is a more sustainable material than either cement or plastic. It strengthens our commitment to sustainable technology techniques.

With this new capacity for storage, we could collect almost half of the water we use in our gardens in a year.

Seed Money Challenge

We have an opportunity to raise the money for this project through an exciting program called the Seed Money Challenge. Another 501(c)3—or nonprofit—organization named SeedMoney, offers this program. Their mission is to help “healthy and environmentally-friendly public food gardens across the US and around the world to start up and thrive.” They ask for our supporters to donate to demonstrate that the need is authentic. Thankfully, one generous Border Partners donor will first match whatever contributions we receive for the new tanks. With that sum, we can compete to receive up to $1,000 in awards from the Seed Money Challenge.
If you might help with this effort to improve our gardening program and save water, visit our Seed Money Challenge Donation Page here:

And thank you so much for your support of Border Partners’ efforts to help families in Palomas eat more healthy vegetables and make our gardens more sustainable.

Combined Sustainable Energy/Health Fair Sparks Interest, Generates Action

There was lots of good ENERGY and information at the Sustainable Energy/Health Fair in Palomas last Saturday. Some energy came from the sun. But most of it definitely came from the kids who helped make the sustainable energy displays. Working with teams at their schools, the Palomas students prepared demonstrations about several different topics related to climate change. All the topics were ones that Border Partners is currently using in Palomas. The students set their exhibits up at Palomas’s Central Park alongside our health displays.

Student Achievement on Display

High school students’ achievements were on display at the Energy/Health Fair in downtown Palomas.

These students, from the College Preparatory High School, made demonstrations about

  • how the air in the global atmosphere is heating up,
  • the water filter BP developed,
  • how to make compost to enrich garden soil and
  • how to make highly insulating building blocks using recycled paper.

The blender bike creates a smoothie without needing electricity.

The suspended, blue, covered pot (left, center) contains broccoli that the students explained was being slowly cooked by the sun’s rays.

One unique exhibit that covered both the topics of the combined Energy/Health Fair was a special stationary bike. A blender retrofit onto this custom bicycle model. Thus, as someone pedaled, they could make a healthy fruit smoothie at the same time–without using electricity. The blender was pedal-powered by the cyclist.

Other students, who attend the Technical High School, explained how solar cookers can cook food without gas or electricity and
the advantages of using a dry toilet (Hint: It saves water).

These students were also challenging people attending the fair to check their heart rates before and after riding an exercise bike.

Peter Edmunds, from Border Partners, worked with the students and their School Principals to organize all the demonstrations in the Energy Fair.

The Energy Fair coincided with the semi-annual Health Fair organized by the Border Partners’ Promotoras.

Health Fair Traditions Continue

Palomas resident clutches her bag of “take home” greens from the greenhouse.

Veggies and garden seeds were free to take home. Donations were welcome.

For the HEALTH FAIR, the Promotoras offered free healthy burritos featuring fresh vegetables from the BP gardens with beans and cheese. There were also bags of mixed greens to take home and also seeds to take along and plant.

In addition, the Health/Energy Fair provided free haircuts and flu shots for attendees.


Slide Show of photos from the Energy/Health Fair on Flickr: Sustainable Energy And Health Fair 10/22

Education Center Officially Reopens in Palomas

Israel Lozano Magdaleno, the Principal of the Ford Primary School, explored one of the drawing programs that the new computers offer.

There was excitement in the air at the Border Partners’ Education Center Grand Re-Opening on October 8. And there was very good reason to be excited! Not only was the Education Center re-opening officially after being closed because of COVID for more than two years, there were 20 brand new computers, with internet, ready for people from the community to use.

The new computers were a gift from the Diaz family and their business, New Mexico Chile Products. The donation honors their brother, Eddy, who died recently. Art Holguin said this about his brother-in-law: “Eddie was a religious, caring individual who put God and faith first in his life. He did not care for titles, awards or special recognition and, as I am writing this, he’s telling me to stop talking about him and explain why this computer lab is so important.”

Juan Lares, the Director of the Education Center, spoke about the wide range of opportunities that await the visitor to the Center. Students will be able to do research for school projects. Others will be able to access online, post-secondary classes from schools not located in Palomas. People without the internet in their homes will be able to communicate with friends outside the village. Some will take classes that will be offered on a variety of topics ranging from introductory to more advanced levels.

The Mayor of the Village of Palomas, Josè Adame Sanchez, and many representatives from local schools and the public library attended the event. They were eager to learn about the opportunities that the Center will offer their students.

Presidente seccional Josè Adame Sanchez, Palomas mayor, and Gloria Alicia Aguilar Banda  paused for our camera during their visit to the re-opening of the Education Center.

We are so very grateful to the Diaz family for their generous donation. These computers will offer high quality learning experiences for Palomas children and adults for many years to come.

Israel Lozano Magdaleno, the Principal of the Ford Primary School, was interested in one of the drawing programs that the new computers include.

Enjoy other images from the day in this slideshow (photo credit: Polly Edmunds). Click through to Flickr to see names and captions.

ed center opening Oct 2022

Something for Everyone: Programming spans many needs

The people of Palomas dig right into many ways to improve life in their community with your support. Here are teens cleaning the area around the Education Center, allowing access for cars to the site.

Four workshops on four important topics for four different age groups: Border Partners’ staff managed a busy September schedule in Palomas.

  • Some of the elders who attended the recent workshop on senior health issues.

    Sixth Graders (18) at the Ford School focused on how to build strong self-esteem.

  • High School Students (15) learned about Sexually Transmitted Diseases and–most importantly–how to prevent them.
  • Pregnant Women (8) discussed the importance of good nutrition during pregnancy. The health of Palomas’ future children will improve with this preparation for births.
  • Seniors (8) talked with each other about difficulties with insomnia and learned some ways to deal with it.

Everyday Tasks Continue

In addition to the special workshops, all our normal work continues. The gardeners distributed loads of veggies. Chard, celery and cilantro produced abundantly.

The Promotoras conducted 98 glucose tests for people in danger of having diabetes. They also administered 22 COVID tests. And, they prepared and delivered 698 meals to isolated seniors.

Sports events continued, too:

  • Every month, the BP Bike Event attracts more riders.
  • Our daily, morning Zumba class consistently attracts 8-12 women.
  • This summer’s youth soccer season concluded with a Championship Tournament. Four teams participated and 100 people came to watch the exciting games.

And besides all that, staff and 10 volunteer students from the Prepa High School cleaned and repainted the Education Center in preparation for the Grand Re-Opening which will take place on Saturday, October 4 at 4 p.m.

Regular attendees of Zumba classes celebrate birthdays of the group. They form community with each other.

Upcoming Special Event

We invite you to the Health Fair and Sustainable Energy Expo in Palomas on Saturday, October 29 from 9am-3pm.

Enjoy delicious, healthy burritos! Take advantage of immediate health checks! Receive a haircut! Border Partners will offer all these services at no cost to attendees.
In addition, view low cost, sustainable energy innovations, including:

  • solar cookers,
  • a pedal powered blender
  • a solar water heater
  • a bio-char stove
  • papercrete building blocks, and
  • a waterless toilet.

We’ve put all of this technology to work in Palomas. Come and see these sustainable energy techniques and technology in action. Expect to see even more and enjoy more opportunities at the Health Fair and Sustainable Energy Expo.