September 2022 Newsletter – Matamoros Clinic Closure

On October 12, 2019, GRM responded to what at the time we thought was an acute crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border that resulted in hundreds of families being stranded with no food, shelter, or medical care.

The Matamoros project was initially conceived as a short-term crisis response. The situation, as we soon learned, was really an acute manifestation of chronic problems that have existed for decades. On top of that, the pandemic, natural disasters, and worsening socio-political conditions in home countries meant that the need for aid remained at a dire level.

A lot of GRM’s work is determining the where, when, and how of resource allocation. While our footprint is large thanks to our volunteer and donor community, we are still a small organization, committed to remaining agile in order to maintain a response that is targeted and impactful. We are constantly reviewing that impact, and this month we have shifted gears on our longest running project – Matamoros, Mexico.

In Matamoros, we evolved from treating people out of our backpacks on the sidewalk to operating simultaneous freestanding clinics and mobile medical teams. What started with just 7 volunteers over a long weekend grew to more than 24 permanent team members at its height and saw over 150 different volunteers over the history of the project.

Over the last several months, we have seen a steady and significant decline in the number of patients seeking medical care at our clinic. This has reflected a corresponding decline in the migrant and asylum-seeking population of the city. The reality is that Matamoros is no longer the epicenter of the asylum crisis in the region. That distinction now belongs to Reynosa, where GRM operates multiple clinics, 5 days per week, serving thousands of displaced people seeking entrance to the U.S. who live in informal camps, overcrowded shelters, or on the street.

In light of this reality, we have decided that it is time for our project in Matamoros to come to an end, and are focusing our resources and efforts in our Reynosa and Tapachula clinics, where they can be best utilized to meet the needs of the vulnerable migrant and asylum-seeking population.

We are grateful to everyone who has been a part of our Matamoros family and contributed to changing the lives of more than 12,000 patients over the last three years.


The GRM Team

Above: Dr. Dairon Elisondo Rojas, a Critical Care Physician originally from Cuba, who worked as a
physician in our Matamoros clinic while awaiting his own asylum trial.

Above 1: Several of GRM’s wonderful local team during the early days of clinic work in the camp.

Above 2: Sam Bishop was GRM’s first Project Manager for the Matamoros Clinic from 2019 to 2021. In 2021, he was promoted to GRM’s Mexico Country Director, and is responsible for all of GRM’s operations in Mexico, to include both clinics in Reynosa and Tapachula.

Above: GRM’s Mobile Clinic, where staff and volunteers treated patients when the asylum-seekers’ encampment still existed.

Above 1: Mark McDonald, GRM’s Matamoros Project Manager from 2021 to 2022. In 2022, Mark was promoted to GRM’s Director of Strategic and Operational Integration.

Above 2: In 2021, GRM moved its Matamoros operations full time into what was originally the Resource Center Matamoros. Several of our partners at MGH are seen here on the clinic’s balcony.

Above: Group pictures with more of GRM’s incredible staff, volunteers, partners and local team members who worked tirelessly in Matamoros over the years.


November 2022 Newsletter – Volunteer Voices 1

We often ask our volunteers to tell us about their experiences volunteering for GRM. We find their feedback to be enlightening, informative, and useful for improvement. We also find that their stories of patient interaction are great examples of why the GRM mission is so important. The following is adapted from such feedback by Katie G., a GRM volunteer nurse who recently finished a rotation to our clinic in Reynosa, Mexico.

“GRM is truly an organization that stands by the principles of the humanitarian imperative, they bring impartial assistance to those most in need and deserving. They are an organization I am proud to say I work with.” – Katie G., GRM Volunteer Nurse


Last Friday, GRM encountered a Haitian refugee living in the Senda de Vida Shelter, who was 28 weeks pregnant and presenting with a medical condition called pre-term premature rupture of the membranes (PPROM), meaning her water broke too early. This condition is dangerous for the mother due to high risk of infection and high probability of emergency cesarean section. It is also dangerous for the premature baby, whose lungs are not fully developed and will need NICU care immediately after delivery.

Left: Nurse Katie, a GRM volunteer and the author of this story, setting up for clinic hours in Reynosa.

GRM was notified by Doctors Without Borders that this woman had been turned away from the local emergency department in Reynosa because they did not have NICU capacity. GRM staff picked the patient and her family up from their shelter and brought them to the clinic at Casa de Lulu. Dr. William, a local GRM staff doctor, contacted the maternity hospital in Reynosa but was told that all of the NICU beds were in use, and they could not accept any more patients. At this point, the GRM team agreed that the patient would not be able to receive the immediate care she needed in Mexico and arranged for her to be received at a U.S. hospital in Texas via our medical referral cost coverage program (a program that is facilitated through GRM’s generous donor community for urgent and complex medical cases like this).

GRM contacted Lawyers for Good Government in order to initiate medical asylum paperwork and expedite the patient’s crossing. In the meantime, Dr. William and Nurse Katie gave her an injection of steroids to help the baby’s lungs develop and an injection of antibiotics to prevent infection. As soon as the legal paperwork was completed, GRM started assisting the patient and her family cross the border. At this point, the patient was in pain, feeling contractions and leaking a significant amount of amniotic fluid. Katie used a GRM wheelchair to push the patient across the border bridge while another volunteer nurse, Lia, accompanied her family close behind. Once at the bridge, they were met by CBP agents and brought to the Immigration Center. It took about an hour to get through the Immigration Center before the patient was released and an ambulance was called. Katie accompanied the patient in the ambulance to the Rio Grande Hospital while Lia and the family followed behind in an Uber.

Above right: Nurse Katie and patient in U.S. Ambulance after crossing.

Below: Patient receiving treatment in McAllen, TX in Labor & Delivery Unit.

At the hospital, the patient was immediately transferred through the ER and into the Labor and Delivery Unit. The L&D staff were pleased to hear the patient had already received antibiotics and a steroid injection at the GRM Clinic, noting GRM’s quick thinking and fast action potentially helped the patient avoid an emergency premature c-section, and certainly helped prevent infection or worse complications.

Once the patient was safely settled in the L&D unit, GRM staff focused on the patient’s family. Unfortunately, the hospital did not allow the family to stay in the hospital room with the patient. However, our Reynosa Project Manager contacted our friends, the Angry Tias and Abuelas, another local nonprofit, who provided a three-day stay in a nearby hotel for the family.

The patient and her family were grateful for the medical services provided by GRM and told our staff this was the first time in months that they felt safe and optimistic about the future.

While it is terrible to think of what the outcome could have been without the intervention of the GRM team, Lawyers for Good Government, Doctors Without Borders, the Angry Tias & Abuelas, and everyone else involved in this patient’s care, this situation illustrates exactly how important our work is.

Please contribute today…

GRM cannot continue to meet the needs of patients like the woman in this story without your financial support. in order to maintain our mission of delivering emergency medical care and humanitarian relief to displaced populations affected by conflict and crisis around the globe, we MUST raise $400,000 before the end of 2022

Please consider making a donation TODAY in order to help us fill this gap. If not today, then please keep us in mind during the upcoming Giving Season this year.

The men, women, and children we serve in our clinics every day need us, and they need YOU. We owe it to them to ask you directly, and urgently, for your assistance. We’re deeply grateful for your consideration.

With gratitude,

The GRM Team


November 2022 Newsletter – Volunteer Voices 2

Similarly to last week, today we are bringing you another individual’s story of their experiences volunteering with GRM. We hope you find his story as poignant and valuable as we do!

“While here in Reynosa, I quit my job to fully commit to this. GRM has been an amazing stepping stone for me and I plan to continue volunteering with them in the future. They allowed me to do short-term volunteer trips while I was still working and helped me network with other humanitarian workers and organizations. Additionally, GRM was a great reintroduction to serving abroad while queer. All of the local staff and volunteers welcomed me with loving and outstretched arms.” – Kirby, GRM Volunteer Nurse


Above: Kirby, a GRM volunteer nurse and the author of this story.

My name is Kirby. I have a Master’s Degree in Nursing from Johns Hopkins, and I am a GRM Reynosa volunteer. When volunteering with GRM I see my role as support staff to the local team. They know the system, the people, the common ailments of their patients, etc. I’m here to help them and their goals, so whatever tasks will make their jobs and lives easier, is what I want to do.

Most of of the local staff have multiple jobs in addition to working with GRM, and if I can limit their burn out, then I’ve done my job. I try to come in full of energy, so I see my role as one of sustainability that is much needed on this project because of the difficult conditions both patients and staff face each day.

Louvens (pictured right with Kirby), is on GRM’s Team Reynosa and serves as a translator. Louvens was born in Haiti and traveled to the Dominican Republic when he was 5 years old. At 27, he saved up enough money to move to Brazil, where he lived for seven years working to save up more money and begin his travel to America. At the age of 34, he started his three-year journey to Reynosa.

He traveled alone, using a paper map for his trip. He often met other migrants, although he did the majority of the trip with eight other men who he met along the way.

He bused from Brazil to Colombia, then spent five days crossing the jungle to Panama. They ran out of food on the third day, and struggled to finish the trip. Louvens called it “la routa de la muerte” (the route of death), and said he saw numerous bodies along the trail that seem to have starved to death, were too injured to continue, or were stabbed or violated along the way.

Once out of the jungle and in Panama, he continued the rest of the way by bus through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras to Guatemala to Mexico. At each border, they met with immigration to get permission to pass through the country.

Once in Reynosa, he lived on the streets for nearly a month before finally gaining entry to one of the local shelters. He now has access to one free meal a day in exchange for contributing to the shelter. Cooking, cleaning, child care, orientation, and construction are a few of the ways people can contribute.

As a former translator in Brazil, Louvens was excited to put his experience to use at the GRM clinic. Louvens and I worked great together triaging patients prior to them seeing the doctors for consultation. He is one of the many team members I am excited to work with again.


Please contribute today…

GRM cannot continue to meet the needs of patients like the woman in this story without your financial support. in order to maintain our mission of delivering emergency medical care and humanitarian relief to displaced populations affected by conflict and crisis around the globe, we MUST raise $400,000 before the end of 2022

Please consider making a donation TODAY in order to help us fill this gap. If not today, then please keep us in mind during the upcoming Giving Season this year.

The men, women, and children we serve in our clinics every day need us, and they need YOU. We owe it to them to ask you directly, and urgently, for your assistance. We’re deeply grateful for your consideration.

With gratitude,

The GRM Team

Notes from the field

From CEO to NGO: Why I Joined GRM’s Ukrainian Mission

by Natalia Zachynsky


February 24th. Just another day for most people in the world. But for me and the other 42 million Ukrainians, it divided us into ‘before’ and ‘after’. 

We woke to explosions and petrifying news, spreading around the country at the speed of light: 

“Russia attacked Ukraine at 4.30am.” 

BEFORE the war, I was a successful young owner of an educational business, a teacher-trainer, an international examiner, and an author. I presented at international conferences, worked hard to achieve success; everything was carefully planned and under control. 

AFTER February 24th…  our lives were put on hold, like a terrible dream with no way to wake up.  I no longer belonged to myself.  I lived at the whim of a ruthless dictator who decides if I live or die.  He chooses whether or not innocent children will be bombed, another building destroyed, or whether to grant a temporary respite in the form of a few hours of peace.  

I felt panic, despair, helplessness, and a feeling of indescribable emptiness as I asked myself repeatedly: “Why?” 

However, by nature I am a doer, not an observer. I wanted to be useful and not sit at home in Khmelnytksy, a city in the west of Ukraine. Millions of Ukrainians were less fortunate than me, having lost their homes, jobs, or family and many had been forced to flee.

I started offering shelter to those who needed it, I worked at the train station as people evacuated from targeted and occupied regions of the country, and I gave food and water for those in need. I searched for medicine for the military and volunteered as a translator for those delivering essentials from abroad.

But it felt like I could do more. That opportunity came at the beginning of March when a friend asked me to translate for an American medic.

And that is how I first met Luke. He needed a translator to help him with various meetings, including at the Department of Health in Khmelnytsky. I didn’t know anything about Global Response Management or their work at the time, but I saw a person who wanted to help with all his heart.

It was chaos, not just in my city but in the country in general. Few people had time for us, as meeting after meeting was postponed or canceled.

My professional career had given me a wide circle of useful contacts who had previously trusted me to work with society’s most valuable assets – children. I realized I could do more than just translate. I used my network to find friends and colleagues in the medical field and many patriotic people who were more than happy to help us.

We began to organize medical training on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC or is the accepted battlefield prehospital standard of care), POCUS (Point-Of-Care UltraSound refers to portable ultrasound systems that allow the assessment of patients without requiring them to be physically present in a radiology department.), and Advanced Trauma Life Support, as well as piloting a project with the Ministry of Health and WHO to send GRM surgical teams to the front line to support Ukrainian surgeons.

My role as translator quickly morphed into a much bigger role organizing training throughout Ukraine and liaising with the Ministry of Health as well as other medical institutions of the country. I was responsible for logistics, training, supplies, translators, lodgings, and essentials for the productive work of the entire team.

It wasn’t an easy transition, my ‘before’ to ‘after’ career.  Not being a medical doctor, I was in a new world where my previous professional achievements and life before the war were a distant memory.

I suddenly had others around me, who could support me and advise me when I was unsure how to act. Usually, I am the leader, but I learnt to step back and work a part of a large team. The only thing that mattered was to get help to the people who needed it the most. I couldn’t let anyone down.

I am infinitely grateful to GRM for allowing me to find another side of me, to understand the true value of a team, the support and care it brings as I became part of a whole without losing myself. I learned to make suggestions and to, occasionally, have them rejected, putting aside my ego for the good of the project.

I learned how to make the impossible possible. Always with urgency. They say ‘teamwork makes the dream work’. It’s true!  GRM gave me new colleagues and friends but most importantly, it showed me the beauty of the human soul and the desire to help regardless of country, religious beliefs, profession, and values. We are united by the desire to help and fight together.

As to my recurring question – Why is there a war in Ukraine? – I still don’t have the answer. But now I know why I should live: I have to help those who need it and GRM showed me how.



Notes from the field

My Transition from Military to Civilian Life

by veteran in GRM 

*Due to the sensitive personal nature of this blog post, the author asked to remain anonymous.  


It was sometime after 0300, but the Iraqi summer heat and the stagnant air in our bunker kept me awake. I was at my computer desk in the Battalion Operations Center in Qayyarah Airfield West, staring at a pros and cons list of leaving the military.


I loved my job. I had graduated college and was commissioned in the Army where I found both purpose and direction on active-duty. Entrusted with the responsibility of managing a platoon of paratroopers—and later a staff section of non-commissioned officers—I learned how to lead, how to multitask, and how to take care of people. 


I trained hard.  I jumped out of aircraft. I learned self-discipline, courage in the face of adversity, and how to put the mission before myself. Among other lessons, the Army taught me how to take criticism, how to stand by my convictions, and the importance of selfless public service. As I reflected, I realized that my time in the military is when I really grew up, became an independent adult, and fully formed my personal set of values and morals.


However, the high operational tempo and deployment schedule of the military made it difficult for me to pursue other personal goals – I wanted to get married, to start a family, to enter higher education, and find other ways to make a positive impact on the world. 


Just like my first parachute jump, I hesitated slightly, and then lept.  I transitioned out in 2018, after 6 years of active duty service and just a few short months after returning from a tour in Iraq.


“You’re too bossy!”


The transition was harder than I expected.  Graduate school didn’t have that same sense of camaraderie as the Army. In short, it was a total culture shock. 


During my first semester of graduate school, our professor assigned a group project. At our first group meeting, after about 15 minutes of chatter amongst the group, I decided to take charge – after all, we only had an hour a week to meet, and we needed to get the project done. I set deadlines, allocated tasks, and set expectations for each meeting. 


I thought to myself – rather indulgently – that my colleagues probably appreciated me taking a leadership role. So I was taken aback when someone bluntly announced: “You’re too bossy”. I perceived myself to be exercising decisiveness and work-ethic (skills that would’ve earned me praise in the military). I was hurt, embarrassed, and frustrated. Were my leadership and management skills outdated? Could I still rely upon the lessons and skills the Army had taught me? Would I have to entirely abandon them and learn all over again?


I was frustrated, but sat back and let the group work out the project details naturally. Even without my leadership, we still got an A, leading me to question my methods and whether or not I could adapt to a dynamic new civilian world.


Light at the end of the tunnel


Upon graduation, I, like many other veterans, found myself yet again struggling as I searched for employment in the civilian workforce. It wasn’t easy to translate my resume into civilian terminology that would be understood, appreciated, and valued. I received rejection after rejection as I grew increasingly nervous that I had made a terrible mistake by leaving the military.


A few months later, I met with a friend at the dog park. He was also getting out of the military and we were discussing the new job he had taken with a veteran-founded NGO, Global Response Management (GRM). I told him how my new graduate degree qualified me to work in non-profit development and he offered to set up a meeting between me and their Executive Director (ED).


Through my conversation with the ED, I learned that GRM prioritized developing meaningful opportunities for veterans to rejoin the workforce. She was also a veteran, a former Army officer, and I told her the anecdote about being told I was too bossy in school. 


She empathized but helped me ultimately realize that although the methods of communication are sometimes different, the lessons and skills I developed during my time in the military are eternal. People first, always. Lead with courage and conviction. Make decisions and follow through. Listen to the input of your teammates, coworkers, and subordinates. Commit to a culture of continual improvement and the never-ending pursuit of organizational excellence.  


She immediately brought me onto the team as a volunteer, and then a few months later they offered me a contract, and shortly thereafter, full-time employment. Working with GRM, I found myself yet again on a team of like-minded individuals who were motivated by the same values and principles as I was. 


GRM’s important, life-saving mission drives me and my colleagues to work hard, collaborate, and continually ask how we can better achieve the mission of providing healthcare to vulnerable populations impacted by conflict and disaster. GRM gave me a place and a purpose. 


The transition from the military to the civilian world was difficult, but there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and for me, that light was GRM. 


If you’re a veteran struggling with transitioning to civilian life or in search of opportunities to continue serving you can email us ([email protected]) about volunteering in one of our programs.  Alternatively, Military One Source and the Veterans’ Association have further resources to assist with transitioning.



Notes from the field

A Day in the Life in Reynosa

by our clinic coordinator in Reynosa, Mexico, Jorge Flores 

I’d like to use this blog to tell you a little about what happens in this small part of the world and the conditions in which migrants live in Reynosa.  My work involves helping my boss, Brendon Tucker, with the administration of the clinic, stocking medicine and supporting the local staff, to ensure that we have everything needed to work and  in the best possible conditions.  

It is not easy.  The high demand for medical services coupled with little support from the Mexican federal, state and municipal government makes it hard to offer good medical care to all migrants who are waiting to progress their asylum case on the border.  

The provision of GRM’s services is reliant on collaboration with other NGOs, volunteer doctors and nurses and the support, financial or otherwise, from everyone who believes in, and donates to, our project.  These factors allow us to offer medical support and to provide long term medicines and antibiotics for children and adults. 

I also want to explain what day to day life is like in Reynosa.  As the weather turns, the cold and rain make it harder to work.  Poor roads and bad drainage means that the rains regularly convert the area into what is essentially a muddy swimming pool, which restricts our access to shelters and other areas where the migrants congregate.  

Obviously access is important for medical support, but it’s more than that.  It’s about the inhumane ways in which these people have to live during the rainy season, where many of them are sleeping on muddy streets in small tents cooking food on tiny structures that have been built to contain fires.  The residents trudge through mud to go about their business.  Mothers and children sit out the rain in their tents waiting for their husbands, fathers or brothers to return ‘home’ with something to eat or drink that might have been donated by a nearby shelter.  

Exposure to these elements causes a huge toll on their health.  

This is just a small example of what is happening in the community, imposed on people who have been forced to leave their homes to protect themselves from the danger in which they were living, from political wars and crime.  They had to choose between living in constant fear or trying to travel somewhere just as dangerous, but at the end of the day, one that includes a small hope of a better life.

Jorge Flores is a licensed psychologist with a masters in Administration, he currently works for GRM in Reynosa, Mexico, as coordinator of the clinic.

Spanish Version


Hola mi nombre es Jorge Flores, soy Licenciado en Psicología y Máster en Administración, actualmente trabajo en GRM Reynosa como coordinador de clínica y a continuación quiero platicarles un poco de lo que pasa en esta pequeña parte del mundo.

Mi trabajo radica en ayudar a mi jefe Brendon Tucker con la administración de la clínica a revisar la compra de medicamentos y apoyo al equipo local de médicos, principalmente que tengamos todo para poder realizar nuestro trabajo en las mejores condiciones posibles.

Esto no siempre es fácil debido a la alta demanda de atención médica y los pocos apoyos del gobierno municipal, estatal y federal complica poder brindar un buena atención a todos los migrantes que se encuentra parados en la frontera esperando solución a su proceso migratorio, con esto y  la colaboración con otras ONG,  Doctores y enfermeras que trabajan como voluntarios y principalmente todas aquellas personas que creen en nuestro proyecto y realizan donaciones a nuestra fundación  han sido un factor fundamental para poder suplir la demanda de atención médica y medicamentos crónicos y antibióticos para niños y adultos.

Pero en otro tema quiero platicarles de nuestro día a día en Reynosa, con la entrada del cambio climatológico en la zona nuestro trabajo se ha complicado más, la mala infraestructura vial y el mal drenaje pluvial convirtieron a Reynosa en una gran piscina de lodo fangoso.

Esto limitando nuestro paso a los albergues y a las zonas donde la comunidad migrante se encuentra asentada, y el tema del acceso a la atención médica tema que importante para todos, no puedo omitir la forma inhumana en la que viven los migrantes ahora por la entrada del invierno con lluvia, muchos de ellos duermen en las calles fangosas dentro de pequeñas casa de campaña.  En esos mismos espacios cocinan sus alimentos en pequeñas estructuras que levantan el fuego del agua, caminan entre el lodo para hacer sus necesidades fisiológicas, caminan entre el lodo a buscar comida que donan dentro de los albergues, madres y niños dentro de las carpas aguantando la lluvia y el frío esperando a sus esposos, padres o hermanos que regresen del exterior con algo para comer o beber.

Y si hablamos médicamente esas condiciones que están viviendo ahora dentro de unos días nos dejaran problemas de salud por la exposición a todas estas condiciones.

Este es un simple ejemplo de lo que pasa la comunidad migrante en su travesía, en su esfuerzo por salir de sus casas para salvar sus vidas del peligro por las guerras políticas y de la delincuencia, ellos tienen que elegir seguir viviendo con miedo o emprender un viaje que es igual de peligroso pero que a final del día les brinda una esperanza de una vida mejor.




We are in Gaza and Ukraine.

Yesterday, GRM founder Pete Reed and was killed in Bakhmut, Ukraine.

Yesterday, GRM founder Pete Reed was killed in Bakhmut, Ukraine. Pete was the bedrock of GRM, serving as Board President for 4 years. In January, Pete stepped away from GRM to work with Global Outreach Doctors on their Ukraine mission and was killed while rendering aid.

This is a stark reminder of the perils rescue and aid workers face in conflict zones as they serve citizens caught in the crossfire. Pete was just 33 years old, but lived a life in service of others, first as a decorated US Marine and then in humanitarian aid. GRM will strive to honor his legacy and the selfless service he practiced.

We fully support Pete’s family, friends, and colleagues during this devastating time.