One Palomas park improvement leads to another

swings at South Park in PalomasWhen residents of a southern Palomas neighborhood – mostly women – saw the improvements Prepa students had made with our help at the Pancho Villa Park, they wanted to improve the park in their neighborhood, too. It consisted of an open dirt field, about a two city blocks in area, equipped with a band shell and basketball court.

First, the women dug a trench around the park perimeter and “fenced” it by burying old auto tires on end, leaving half the tire exposed. This created a barrier to prevent anyone from driving into the park. Then they constructed a gate entrance in their low-cost, but effective, fence.

Peter and the guest-helpers stand by the disassembled playground equipmentNext, the neighbors approached Border Partners asked if we could help them obtain some playground equipment. Thirty neighbors attended the meeting we scheduled.

We agreed to provide some playground equipment that Tom Nickodemus had just obtained from the Diocese of Las Cruces. Through Tom’s negotiations, they donated  unused materials from a day care center that was no longer operating in Columbus, NM. Then we scheduled a work date with the neighborhood people – when we also knew that three young relatives would be visiting us. Installing that equipment was a perfect project for them!

Even though temps were in the mid – 90’s on June 6 , our contingent from Deming [Polly Edmunds (not pictured in left photo), Peter Edmunds (left), friend Nicole, niece Breanna, nephew Andy] disassembled a swing set and plastic climber/slide/swings for younger kids at the former-day care center in Columbus. After loading everything in our truck and trailer (left photo), we headed for the border to cross all the gear.

When we arrived at the park, people immediately began emerging from their houses one by one to help unload and re-assemble everything. Within twenty minutes there were at least 35 women, men and children ready for action: to put those things together and start playing!

woman with drill

One group of women with toddlers helped erect the preschoolers’ set. They dug the holes, mixed the cement, and loved learning to use the battery powered drill.

Everyone else worked on the bigger swing set. Once we figured out how to reassemble the pole structure and got it up, there was no stopping the kids from hopping right on each piece as soon as it became functional! What fun!

Just picture this: One curly-haired girl of about 4 years wanted to go down the new slide– with a piece of watermelon in her hand! So she lay on her tummy on the top deck, spun herself around, and went down feet first. In the end, the watermelon was a little gray around the edges, but she got right back in line to do it again and again.

While we were working, the Palomas mayor–Miguel Chacon Monarrez– dropped in to visit. He thanked everyone there for their work to improve the park. Then, to our pleased surprise, he promised that the town would install electricity and add lighting in the park so that it can be open for longer hours.

basketballWhen the playground equipment was finished, people measured out a court for volleyball and began digging the holes for the volleyball fence posts. Meanwhile, others launched a lively basketball game.

And once again we see it’s true: By working together, people can improve the standard of living on the border.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 22 June 2011 10:34)

Building playgrounds, Building trust

playground climber

New equipment in Pancho Villa Park was ready for action on April 30, Children’s Day, in Palomas–and just in time for some summer fun.

When we offered to add some activity-oriented gear to improve health and community in the town,
the mayor suggested we start with that park. It was lovely, located in the midst of a residential area,
but barren of much to do and outfitted with not much more than a platform gazebo in the center.

student volunteersPeter Edmunds and Tom Nickodemus headed up the effort, but started by meeting
with the park’s neighbors to determine what they would like to see in the park. Efforts faltered some
when the people’s low expectations hindered consistent follow through. Neighbors were polite, but it seemed that
they were skeptical that much would really develop from our offer. We had the feeling that they had been disappointed
in the past from promises made but not kept.

Peter and Tom stayed with the goal nevertheless,
and Marisol–one of our Palomas promoters–met with the coordinators of volunteers at the town’s prepatoria/high school
where students must contribute hours of service as a requirement. Teams of students signed up to help build equipment.

Now there are several sturdy pieces of well-built playground equipment delighting the children. Volleyball area is ready for teams,
and we’ll arrange to have three-on-three basketball league at the park…and two more volleyball areas for the older ones.

volleyball area

So now we’re all proud of the improved park.
And we at Border Partners are even more pleased with the trust that we’re earning on the Border.
When we work together and share our resources, life is better for everyone…right down to the smallest among us!

baby in swing