This week’s story is close to home for our headquarters in San Diego.  As we observe National Immunization Awareness Week this week, let us highlight one of our own heroes in the fight against preventable diseases.

True to its roots, PCI maintains its commitment to providing community-based healthcare for vulnerable families living in Tijuana, Mexico by overseeing a network of dedicated volunteer health outreach workers called ‘promotores’ – some of whom have worked with PCI for over 25 years.

“Promotores are not made, they are born.  The only thing that they need is to be given the opportunity to be useful in the community,” says Don Felipe Chonpo Martinez.  Don Felipe is one of many PCI promotores in Mexico. Promotores serve their communities through training, coordinating medical support, supplying vaccinations and creating support groups: the care they provide is often the only safety net available. What Don Felipe likes most about being a promotore is knowing that people in his community can trust him enough to come to him with their health problems. Don Felipe and his wife, Maria, were trained in 1988 and have personally vaccinated over 25,000 in their time with PCI/Mexico.

PCI sponsors nine well-baby clinics through Medicina Social Comunitaria (MSC): Community-Based Public Health for Tijuana, which is a focal point for promotora networking and training sessions. Volunteers educate mothers about nutrition, breastfeeding, and strategies for preventing childhood disease. Children and mothers alike can also receive vital immunizations and health check ups at local community clinics and Mobile Health Clinics, which offer vital reproductive health and family planning services.

Through their extraordinary volunteer service, promotores are able to show the community that they do not have to be solely dependent on outside benefactors, but can, in fact, take quality care of their own.  Don Felipe tells us: “In my community, there is no set number of work hours for the simple reason that people come directly to my home so that I can talk to them or give them advice, like when their children have diarrhea, a fever, or respiratory problems. What I like most about being a promotore is knowing that the people in my community trust me enough to come to me with their problems. I feel that the community has also helped me to develop. I noticed that I feel a lot of satisfaction from being able to help others, which is most important to me.”