When we started in 2011, we weren’t sure how all of this would sustain itself.
Our capacity building program set forth to empower health promoters working in marginalized communities, in some extremely poor areas in the borderlands. We knew many of the people coming in for treatment would have no money, no job, no opportunities for work. And the programs offering care we knew survived with little to no funding. We feared we, as the organization facilitating training for these groups, might end up having to resort to constant fundraising just to cover the cost of their supplies.
We really didn’t want to end up in that type of charity role. Our goal with the Crossroads Border Project*, rather, has always been for each of the health promoters we trained to help their people on their own 2 feet: autonomously, while at the same time being able to aid those who need care the most.
It’s now been less than 3 years since we began. We have tracked over 30,000 treatments since then. The majority of these treatments were provided as “donation only.” The health promoters just put a box out in their dispensaries with a label on it: “donativo voluntario” which means “voluntary donations accepted” and added “Para la paz y la salud emocional” translated “For peace and emotional health,” which is what their programs are designed to help with. These little boxes, along with a whole lot of needles paid for through what was collected in these boxes, and their commitment to serving their people, have made it possible…have enabled them to be promoters of peace in places in the borderlands that need paz the most.
The donation-based system, which was created by the groups themselves, we have since witnessed, though sometimes just through pesos, has helped them cover their costs. They haven’t had to turn away folks that couldn’t pay. The fact that the funds to carry on the services come from within their community, their services have become self-sustaining.
This was important for them: NOT being dependent on outsiders for providing care within their community.
Important for us, as well, and one way that makes their programs “Community-Supported” health projects. This is what our mission is all about.
Today we celebrate the 2nd anniversary of our downtown Las Cruces clinic. We started in March 2012 within a little closet that a group let us use for our clinic. We started with “not much” and just a simple philosophy: Pay what you can. Through the support of our community, we grew and grew, little by little. Tiny 5 dollar payments at a time. Sixteen bucks here and there. We’ve come a long way to the 30k. Thanks…
On this Saturday, March 8th, we will also offer our services on a donation-only basis, in the same spirit, for the Healer for the Arts festival here in Cruces. We’ll put funds raised directly towards the costs of the Border Project’s two upcoming trainings. Our staff will be volunteering as well on this day (March 8th) to support the Border Project.
*Stay tuned this week to KVIA ABC news in El Paso for a report on our project by Angela Kocherga.