Beginning in 2014, the Rio Grande Valley has experienced an unprecedented migration of undocumented and unaccompanied children fleeing violence and poverty in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. COHI, Catholic Charities, Hidalgo County Health Department, and numerous local Rio Grande Valley volunteers have successfully coordinated and provided over 400 volunteer clinicians for the efforts at Sacred Heart Church where the refugee clinic is still housed.
During this initial response in July 2014, COHI provided medical supplies and equipment that were both donated and purchased through a combination of grants and local/out-of-town donations from generous individuals and private foundations. Local and out-of-town/state volunteers provided care to more than 40,000 women and children since 2014.
During the summer months of 2014 volunteers from medical, social work, legal fields, and community volunteers interviewed 120 refugees in a survey implemented by the staff of the Center for Torture Survivors, Bellevue Hospital, New York City, to inform the psychological first aid that the volunteers in the clinic are providing.
COHI maintains its local partnerships in the Rio Grande Valley as refugees continue to cross the US/Mexico border. Refugees travel from the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras) and as far away as Eritrea and Sudan. Upwards of 100-200 refugees arrive at the Sacred Heart Church and COHI-supported clinic daily, although this number can fluctuate depending on the cadence of detention releases. In light of new executive orders and border security policy, the numbers at the clinic are down and numbers of deportations are up in February 2017. COHI continues to mobilize and coordinate efforts to provide quality healthcare and trauma-based support to those fleeing violence in their home countries, and leads quarterly Peace Through Health Delegations to the US/Mexico border for stakeholders, volunteers and clinicians.
Since 2014, the clinic has dispensed more than $30,000 in medical supplies to refugees passing through.
COHI's staff continues to train local partners and community members on issues of human trafficking, community asset mapping, and vicarious trauma exposure in the Rio Grande Valley. Until now, COHI has trained 500 community members and partners.
Clinical and professional volunteers are still needed. Fill out the Volunteer Intake Form to start the process.