WESLACO — Hidden along the country roads of the city is the House of Restoration Church, where La Union De Pueblo Entero held its second annual Pachanga De Salud on Saturday to promote healthy lifestyles and confront anxiety about immigration issues.
The community health fair and conference served colonia and low-income residents within Hidalgo County. This year’s theme was “Salud, Si! Miedo, No!” (Health, yes! Fear, no!).
Cristina Leal, special projects coordinator for LUPE, said the event aimed to educate the leaders and members of the community to lead a healthy lifestyle and remove the stigma of fear.
“Our focus for our program is preventative care, so before people become very sick we want them to start making preventative healthcare screenings … and be checking their numbers for the individual and their families,” Leal said. “I want to focus on the head of households of those that are scared and weary of getting close to a clinic. Here we bring the clinics into the community and help ease the fear — because of intimidation of barriers of language or transportation, so we ease that burden through education.”
The group’s Health on Wheels program tries to broaden the access to health care in the Rio Grande Valley, both in Hidalgo and Cameron counties.
“We work with mobile clinics, such as Valley Care Clinic Mobile Unit, that we take into the colonias and into our offices also and we promote preventative health services for uninsured patients,” Leal said.
The mobile unit is a way to reach out and educate through the resources of LUPE; the nonprofit organization has a team of health educators that take information to the communities across both counties.
“We want to educate the community on the different areas of health, like nutrition,” she said. “We give people the numbers on what their sugar (level) should look like and their blood pressure with other valuable resources that they can take during the health fair.”
Several organizations, such as the Mexican Consulate, Rodeo Dental and Planned Parenthood were in attendance for the health fair, providing information and referral resources. In addition to the health fair, there were workshops on civil rights and deportation defenses for families.
Sareth Garcia, community health educator and a member of LUPE, is an example of the struggle and need to obtain health services in the region.
“Many of us are not able to have insurance even though I have three jobs because of my status and living in the Valley,” Garcia said in Spanish. “Almost two-and-a-half years ago, I didn’t feel too well. My sugar was high when they checked my blood, and I had high blood pressure, so I reached to the point of diabetes. With the help of Valley Care Clinic, I received assistance and managed to keep everything under control and as a mother I wanted to be there for my children.”
With Valley Care Clinics, as a LUPE provider, assists residents in receiving medical attention at a low cost with medications and other needs. When Garcia was able to control her medical needs, LUPE asked her to become an educator. In a partnership with Texas A&M University, they educated Garcia to be an example for others in the community.
“The residents of the Rio Grande Valley don’t have access (to) medical attention, so La Union Del Pueblo Entero, they want to educate others and making sure they get the proper attention,” Garcia said. “They’re not alone and don’t want to tell family members because of embarrassment that they don’t have money to receive the medical services.”
“I want to invite everyone to attend the clinic, even if you don’t have the money or not,” she said. “If you’re uncertain, don’t fear anymore and stop by the office and educate yourself.”
For more information, visit, www.lupenet.org or call their main office in San Juan at (956) 787-2233.