Winter in the cold high desert challenges Border Partners to help

3 children model winter hats

Thanks to Morningstar of Silver City, NM some vulnerable children are more warmly dressed for winter’s challenging weather.

by Peter Edmunds, Border Partners co-founder

Winter brings special challenges. Here in the Chihuahua Desert, at an altitude of 4400 hundred feet, temperatures fall to near or below freezing every night more than three months every year. For us northerners with insulated, heated houses that’s not an issue. But, in Puerto Palomas it’s seriously cold.

Their cement buildings with metal roofs have the insulation power–or “R value”– of a beer can. The only building in town that seems adequately heated is the mayor’s office. Schools and the library are only minimally heated. Homes are often entirely without heat.

Thanks to our generous donors Border Partners has been able to help address this challenge this winter!

Meeting Winter Challenges

Consider, for example, the situation of Raymundo, a senior citizen who lives in a windowless, one-room building that’s heated with a wood stove without a chimney. Our local program director Juana met him one very windy day. His metal roof panels rose at least a foot off the rafters with each gust of wind, letting out some of the smoke. Some volunteers, equipped with boxes of screws, some stove pipe, a warmer coat and a blanket, have made his life a bit easier.

One donor contributed two boxes of kids’ coats. Every time I see a Tarahumara child with a good winter coat I whisper a silent thanks to that donor. We gave that community of Native Americans over 30 coats.

A group of volunteers from Western New Mexico University winterized a house where a mom and her three kids live. Last year, those volunteers replaced seven broken windows, filled a 4 foot diameter hole in the wall that was covered by a blanket, and finished putting metal panels on the roof. That mom had an eave trough running across her living room ceiling to catch the rain water that leaked in along the seams of the plywood!

Donors help us help

The home run of this winter was receiving a pickup load of sweatshirts donated by a local company–Morningstar in Silver City, NM–that stencils team shirts. Near as I can guess there must have been over 300 shirts on the load, mostly nice hooded types. The last box I opened had about 40 small sized knit hats. The photo of three children at the top of this post shows those hats in action.

A Deming woman gave a whole box of hats she knit herself. I see them all over town, easily identified by the colors she used.

I brought a door down on yesterday’s load, and it never even made it into our store room. While we were unloading, a mom showed up who needed a 32 inch door. We even had a hinge and lock set to offer her from the bucket of hinges an unnamed grandpa gave us last summer.

More effort upcoming

Several groups that had offered assistance to the town of Palomas in past winters with warm coats and clothing now have left. In the Fall of 2015 we will try to step in to fill that void with an organized effort to offer that assistance. Here’s our call out to all the knitters and crocheters: get your needles and hooks going! Help us help.

We have the best donors in the world. With their support, Border Partners can help meet the challenges winter throws at the folks of Palomas.