Just about this time in October 2008, Peter and Polly Edmunds and Helena Myers began working with a group of women in a craft group in Palomas. We learned from them about the needs of people in their small town. Specifically, they wanted more jobs and access to healthy food and medical services. Out of those meetings came the idea for Border Partners.
We knew there were plenty of resources in the United States that could help meet these needs. So, we started – small at first – forming a coop for some of the women to sell oilcloth products. And, we helped some other people improve the desert soil so they could grow vegetables at their homes. Peter taught people to make solar cookers. It was a small beginning. But, we have continued. Others have joined us. Donors have responded generously to the needs.
Border Partners now, in 2023, has an office and staff in Palomas: a full-time general manager, a full time assistant manager, three part-time health educators, one full-time and two part-time gardeners, a part-time family counselor and a computer center manager. We never dreamed our little project would be what it is today.
Today in Palomas
Thanks to the support and hard work of so many people, Palomas is a different place than it was in 2008. Now:
- Three community greenhouses provide space, year-round, to grow vegetables for community distribution. In 2008, very few people grew vegetables because of poor soil conditions and lack of equipment.
- Several large tanks collect rainwater for use in our gardens and on fruit trees we have planted. This simple tool was not in use in 2008.
- School children, families, pregnant mothers and seniors now take nutrition classes offered by Border Partners in Palomas. There were no nutrition classes in 2008.
- Seven schools now have gardens on-site to grow nutritious vegetables for the school lunches. No school in Palomas or the surrounding area had a garden in 2008.
- A group of well-trained health educators offer health checks, screening for diabetes and high blood pressure, twice-yearly health fairs and daily aerobics classes. There was no group of health educators before 2012.
- Since 2018, 25 isolated seniors receive a daily hot meal delivered to their home. Many of them also attend a monthly exercise class with a healthy lunch and health screenings provided by Border Partners’ health educators.
- 100 needy families in the area receive a monthly box of food staples.
- Thirteen families use a biochar stove that heats their home and makes “biochar” in the winter.
- Border Partners uses the biochar to enrich our garden soil. It has the added benefit of sequestering carbon dioxide, one of the leading causes of climate change. No one was using biochar in Palomas before 2013.
- Students and teachers in schools now have access to computers and the internet. Border Partners has installed and maintains 225 computers in schools. Schools in Palomas had no computers before we began bringing them in 2012. This year alone the Puerto Palomas high school / preparatoria received a donation of 11 computers from Border Partners.
- The public has access to 25 computers and technology classes at Border Partners’ Education Center. Palomas had no free computer access until this center opened in 2013.
- Water filters that remove the excess fluoride arsenic and nitrates from the Palomas drinking water are now installed in all the schools and in our office kitchen. There were no filters in the schools in 2008.
- Border Partners is regularly sponsoring sports tournaments in the community.