For those interested in contributing to an international charitable or activist organization, there is no shortage of great groups to choose from. The International Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam International and UNICEF represent just a handful of major charitable organizations, whose efforts span the globe. However, at the U.S.-Mexico border there exists a great array of smaller international charities that are working for the benefit of the entire border population and, in the process, are exemplifying the power of binational cooperation.
Perhaps the most prominent charitable organization working across the U.S.-Mexico border is the Border Philanthropy Partnership. Created in 2002, BPP brings together a network of nonprofits and government agencies working in both the U.S. and Mexico, in order to maximize the positive effect of these smaller organizations on border communities in both countries. Since its founding, the organization has distributed over $20 million to individuals and groups working collectively to strengthen the border.
Although BPP may be the most prominent philanthropic organization at the border, there are many smaller binational organizations working on a variety of issues as well. As the U.S.-Mexico border sports one of the most diverse and endangered ecosystems in North America, it is no surprise that many of these groups work in service of the environment. In Tucson, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and its Center for Sonoran Desert Studies brings environmentalists and scientists together from throughout the border region. The museum, which has developed a global reputation as a paradigm of international scientific cooperation, works to educate the local community about how to preserve our environment.
Another charitable area in which individuals are working across the border concerns the preservation of local agriculture. Somos la Semilla (“We are the seed”) is a network of farmers and grassroots organizations that serves to promote a healthy, productive food system in Arizona and Sonora. Similarly, Native Seeds is an organization working throughout the Southwestern U.S. and Northwestern Mexico to collect and distribute diverse indigenous agricultural seeds to local farmers.
Of course the most frequent and pressing issue tackled by international philanthropic organizations working at the border is that of migrant safety and rights. In Southern Arizona and Sonora, two extremely productive groups working in this field are No More Deaths and Humane Borders. Both of these organizations serve to gather information from migrants crossing the border, to use this information to educate the public, and in the process to protect these migrants from dangers they may face in this region. Without the work of these organizations, our collective knowledge of the immigrant experience at the U.S.-Mexico border would be dramatically impaired.
This is the fourth in a five part series of articles discussing the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico. View additional parts here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 5.