Stories from the Mexican border
The Wings of Angels Foundation work hard to ease the life on the Mexican border. Here are some of the stories we are thrilled to share with our donors, proving that our hard work pays off!
The Mexican Border No One Knows!!!
…9 Tales from the Wings of Angels—a dramatically creative foundation of U.S. volunteers, working hands on, in Mexico to meet critical needs of the Mexican border poor!
1. Legs for Leverage
Can cheap Amazon.com books plus the promise of a “free leg” entice Type II diabetes patients to kick their disease? Staff members at Wings of Angels free clinic in Agua Prieta hope so. The incidence of Type II diabetes in the combined populations (200,000) of the northern Sonora town of Agua Prieta and its U.S. neighbor, Douglas, Arizona, is 40%. This tells us that whatever intervention methods are currently in place are not working. Our border clinic now has five candidates in trial programs that uses copies of The South Beach Diet (available in Spanish for $1.50 on line) to explain why one must eat certain foods and give up others.
Not one of our diabetes patients has had a chemistry class, but it’s hard to resist this offer: “If you read this book, understand the diet, stay on the diet, check your blood sugar weekly at our clinic, and get over your disease, WE WILL GIVE YOU A FREE LEG. Actually, it is even better than that, you will not lose the other leg and you will retain your eyesight.” Without some understanding of the chemical changes and consequences that come with diabetes, patients can’t see the relationship between what they eat and why they are sick. Hopefully, our trial will provide the education—and create the sweet blackmail—needed to encourage our Type II diabetes patients make the changes that could mean keeping a leg or not go blind. We think we are on to something here!
2. Chilaquiles, Marciel and Maria vs. Drugs and Alcohol
Chilaquiles, Marciel and Maria, all citizens of Agua Prieta, are fighting addiction to drugs and alcohol because the payoff is feeling good – and Wings of Angels has shown them someone gives a damn. “Chilaquiles” (as he calls himself) is friendly, about 40 years old, and has been on drugs for all his adult life. He speaks English with us as he washes car windows in the long line returning to the U.S. We talk about his bad teeth and our free dental clinic just four blocks from the line. Two weeks ago he appeared, announced he was drug free for 24 days, and would like to have his teeth repaired as one of the things he must do to achieve his goal of good health and a clean body.
Maria has severe liver damage from her years as an alcoholic. Her husband Marciel does not have legs, the result of an accident when he was 18. The couple, both about 50, also work the line each day in their wheelchairs. We built a solid fired-adobe house for them in 2005, and they continue to smile and thank us for their new life. They tell us when something is wrong, and what we might do to help. Actually, they tell us what is right also; They are warm in the winter and safe for the first time in their lives. They recently were able to install a reservoir roof tank and now have a source of water. When we threatened Marciel with the worst kind of horrors to keep him from selling their house in some fit of madness, he understood. When Maria has some liver or related distress, on our next trip, we drop meds in her lap as we wait in line. Last month, Maria announced that because of Wings of Angels, she has been clean and sober for one year! We didn’t expect this but are deeply touched. They know that we love them.
3. Wings of Angels Free Dental Clinic
There are 40,000 more-than-poor living in and around Agua Prieta. Government services are limited, so care for everything one would hope for—for them—is not available. The most critical need for these poor families is someone with enough health knowledge and equipment to provide for basics like dental care.
Dental care is critical to prevent loss of teeth, ensure proper nutrition, and maintain body health at every age. A person’s oral health can be a direct influence not only on their physical health, but on emotional health as well. When people can eat their food effectively they feel physically healthy. When they have a higher self-image because their smile is attractive, they have a greater chance of bettering their position in life.
Wings of Angels operates a fully-equipped free dental clinic thanks to the generous support of Dr. George Sayre, DDS, of Houston. Dr. Sayre, famous in his own right, was recently honored as Houston Citizen of the Year. Along with maintaining his full time Houston private practice, Dr. Sayre serves as the volunteer Director of the Houston Homeless Healthcare dental clinic. He provides the Wings of Angels clinic with state-of-the-art equipment and materials through his affiliation with the national Dental Advisory Network. This support enables our young Mexican dentist, Dr. Eric Moreno, to utilize more advanced remedies and resources generally not available to Mexican dentists.
The Agua Prieta free dental clinic is up and running. We would love to extend an open invitation to all licensed dentists in the U.S.—especially those in Arizona and its surrounding states—to utilize this dental clinic whenever they find the time to volunteer their services. Can you help bring a smile across the border?
4. No Place for Disabled Children
We see most of the disabled kids in northern Sonora at some time in their lives at our monthly clinics. Soon Wings of Angels will open one of the first and only “day care centers” for disabled poor children in Mexico. Mothers of the disabled children are scheduled to volunteer two days of the week, leaving three days to rest and work. There are patients like Erika Corral Lopez, who survived meningitis and is physically reconditioned, but lacks stimulation and awareness. Children like Erika will receive the more precise care needed to meet intense therapy requirements. Many children need this center because their parent-caregivers lack the education and therapy skills to improve what might otherwise be improved in their conditions. Equally common themes include exhausted mothers or very poor family units in which both parents cannot work because one must always care for a child with special needs. We need help from those professionals skilled in assessment and communication skills as well as some of the splendid array of toys and gadgets already created for this purpose in the US.
5. A Road Too Narrow
What if you called 911 but no one came? Wings of Angels is working to provide trauma care for northern Sonoran highway crash victims. On September 12, 2008, Cruz Roja in Agua Prieta will graduate 16 EMT/Paramedic students. This is a first! These students have been training with Douglas Fire Captain Manny Ayala for five months. They make up the first fully-trained and supplied response team in northern Sonora. As their prize for outstanding work, these volunteers will receive a completely outfitted Silverado 3500 ambulance courtesy of the Hyrum, Utah City Council. They will know how to use all the equipment and supplies. Imagine their joy when the first life is saved!
6. Mexican Sign Language (MSL) Classes Resume in September
Dr. Don Cabbage, World Society for the Deaf, returns to Agua Prieta from October 6 through 10 to train fifty children, parents, their extended families, and teachers from throughout northern Sonora in the sign language of the deaf used in Mexico. This is Wings of Angels sixth MSL Intensive, and we can’t wait. Little children with near-complete or complete hearing losses most often act out in disturbing ways. Imagine the frustration of not being able to communicate with those who love you, even with your own parents? Thanks go to a very special supporter for making this class possible. The September MSL Intensive has been endowed ($3,000) by Gil Gillenwater, a twenty-year veteran of outstanding works of compassion in northern Sonora.
7. Wings of Angels’ Call-to-Action Motto “Rescue, Stabilize and Transform”
A pregnant mother, her 1 ½ year old boy, a 3 year old girl, a 6 year old girl, an 8year old girl, and an 11 year old brother all live in a shack without windows or doors. It is an all too familiar picture. There is no electricity, water or sewer. Everyone sleeps on the floor.
Thanks to Wings of Angels this family was rescued. Our board member Chris Pignotti, US Digital Media, offered a year’s rent for an apartment with utilities in a decent (less dangerous) neighborhood. We have donated a propane stove, and a refrigerator. The three little girls now attend La Divina Providencia and return to their new apartment only on the weekends (this at the request of the 6 year old). The children are entered in school. In addition, the mother has agreed to sterilization at the birth next month. This family is now stabilized. Transforming heart-wrenching situations like this takes time, patience and a venerable mentor—but it can be done. The call-to-action motto is changing lives, one family at a time.
8. College Rotarians Show Off Their Skills
The Reyna family of five lived in one room after a fire destroyed their two-bedroom home. Dad saved the money from his job in a Mexican auto parts store and built a stem wall, hoping he could eventually build back his home. The Utah College Rotarians (mostly girls and experienced builders in their third appearance here) came to lend their hands. They built a huge new room and screen porch. They noticed mom Clothilde’s little garden, and created a big new patch with great soil.
Today the Reyna family is living without chaos. Dahna Reyna is eight years old and suffered severe birth trauma. She is one of our kids (and will attend the day care center). The older kids (young teens) are attending our Saturday art classes for talented kids, and everyone is doing well. This is an exceptional family with more education and able to take advantage of this great new gift.