By Polly Edmunds, Cofounder of Border Partners
Last week I finally took a photo of a political campaign billboard on the street in Palomas that caught my eye last year. It reads: Transformaremos Palomas (We will transform Palomas). I believe that Palomas citizens will transform their town and that the contributions of many caring and committed activists will make those changes happen.
That very day I met several such people.
We spoke for the first time that afternoon with the new Acting Director of Escuela Ignacio Zaragoza: Prof. Mefiboset Trejo Tirado. Border Partners is providing a food supplement to augment the meager food supplies they receive from the government to feed their school children. He was grateful that, because of our food donations, many of the children would eat at least one good meal during the day.
The children in this school suffer many challenges. A significant number of their mothers have worked as prostitutes. Many of the children may have been affected by alcohol use during pregnancy, so they have additional behavior and learning problems. Prof. Tirado told me that Palomas has more incidents of child abuse than do other parts of Mexico. (To address this social issue, this week the school will sponsor a program about child abuse for the children, with special speakers and videos. This example of compassionate concern for the children’s well-being will affect coming generations.
At the town library, we met with another energetic person working for change in Palomas. Benita Saenz, the librarian and Border Partners board member, told us that she’ll co-lead classes with a Palomas psychologist for parents at the Secundaria (Middle School) on parenting topics such as instilling values in children, sex education and bullying. I have not heard of another parenting class offered in Palomas.
The library is also offering, for the first time, a free literacy class: two weeks for three hours each afternoon. If it meets a need, they will extend the classes, providing an opportunity for adults to learn to read and write—opening new doors to them and augmenting their own dignity. Educational empowerment will transform Palomas.
Earlier in the week, Benita submitted a grant proposal to the Mexican Environmental Agency seeking funds for a group of women she has formed to start a business building papercrete blocks (with the help of Border Partners). These funds will help them start a business where they can make money in order to fix their houses that are badly in need of repair. Of course, they can also use the blocks they make for some of their repairs! If successful, this grant will effect much positive change.
And Juana Lazoya, Border Partners’ Palomas gardening promoter is “greening” the town. We toured not only her own extensive vegetable garden, orchard and greenhouse but also several other vegetable gardens at family homes in Palomas that are now producing bountifully with her support. Juana is making change happen right this minute as she empowers families to grow healthy food by reviving and implementing forgotten agricultural practices.
We the people can make a difference. Our collective power is transformative.
Never doubt it: the people of Palomas will transform their town.
It is already happening.