May 2023 Newsletter – Announcing New Partnership with Refugee Health Alliance in Reynosa, MX

Over the last few years, GRM has made a significant impact in Reynosa, Mexico, providing critical medical services to marginalized populations. We have been working together and collaborating with Refugee Health Alliance (RHA), an organization dedicated to serving marginalized and displaced individuals on the U.S.-Mexico border, since 2021. Together, we share a common mission of providing holistic, trauma-informed care and advocating for the well-being of vulnerable populations.

GRM and RHA have been working tirelessly to provide critical medical services to underserved populations on the U.S.-Mexico border in different regions. We are excited to announce a partnership between our organizations to ensure continued access to this critical care in Reynosa. In June 2023, RHA will become the primary organization facilitating the clinics in Reynosa, with GRM moving to a support role. GRM is proud to have worked alongside RHA in pursuit of our shared mission, and we look forward to supporting them as they continue to make a difference in the lives of those they serve.

As we transition our work with RHA, we reflect on our accomplishments, including serving over 23,000 patients, administering more than 40,600 COVID-19 tests, and utilizing over 11,800 donated volunteer hours of medical expertise since 2022. We are proud of our work in Reynosa, and we are excited to see RHA build on our successes.

To learn more about RHA, visit their website at and consider adding them to your list of supported non-profits.

You can also help further the GRM mission, which continues around the world in Ukraine, Iraq, and Kurdistan, by starting a Facebook fundraiser in GRM’s honor, setting up a recurring donation, or spreading the word by sharing our social media posts on Facebook and Instagram.

Notes from the field

Volunteer Moments in Reynosa: The Joy of Briefly Being Part of my Patient’s Story

by Michael Felber, Nurse and volunteer with GRM



Over the past year, I have done several volunteer rotations with GRM in Reynosa, Northern Mexico.  Hopefully, this blog will give you an idea of what to expect and to share a few of my memorable moments.

Days begin with a short drive from McAllen, Texas to the border, past an obtrusive stretch of border wall – tucked beyond typical US-style stores and warehouses –  forcing an artificial divide in the landscape as helicopters patrol the border, criss-crossing above us.

We cross the Rio Grande, sharing the international bridge with that morning’s deportees as they silently trudge in a single file back to Mexico in unfastened shoes – laces are confiscated by US immigrations officers – clutching plastic bags containing their few belongings and documents.  Their clothes are still muddy from their recent attempt to enter the US.

Reynosa feels different; it requires situational awareness as organized crime groups monitor the border. I don’t feel afraid or unsafe, but vulnerable. Using a buddy system, always being aware of exits, and being mindful of people around me quickly becomes second nature.

GRM rotates around different clinics in Reynosa, all of them hot, crowded, and noisy.  The local team in Mexico are made up of an impressive bunch of doctors, nurses, logisticians and translators, some of whom are themselves asylum seekers, volunteering in the clinic to put their skills to use whilst waiting for permission to enter the US.  They are skilled and dedicated with limitless positivity, despite the desperate conditions facing their patients.

A local provider once said something that is never far from my mind: “the story of migrants is long, but their truth is short”. That truth, as I see it, is their constant struggle for basic necessities such as safety, shelter, food, and dignity.   But in the long lines of patients at the Reynosa clinic, each patient with a different medical problem, they all have their own stories.

As a bilingual nurse a lot of my day is spent assessing patients, triaging, and interpreting for doctors. Just like any Emergency room at home, patients present with problems ranging in complication and urgency.  Often, the presenting complaint is just the tip of the iceberg.

One day, a young Guatemalan woman was carried into the clinic, unable to catch her breath.  I helped her onto an exam table doing my best to calm her down until she was able to talk. She had been having episodes of hyperventilating, feeling pressure and pain in her chest, and losing sensation in her arms and legs. Apart from some dehydration her medical exam was normal, although she looked terrified.

As we talked, she told me that she had been kidnapped shortly after arriving in Reynosa and held until her family could pay the ransom to free her. While she was held captive she had been repeatedly raped and threatened with death. Once freed, she began suffering from headaches and insomnia with difficulty eating, drinking, and concentrating.

She worried that she was losing her mind and that these debilitating symptoms would prevent her from parenting her young son. As we talked, I explained that feeling vulnerable, apprehensive and hypervigilant were common responses to trauma, and how the confines of her tent during the night might be especially difficult.

I reassured her that it wasn’t her fault and that the wounds she felt in her mind and spirit were as real as wounds to her physical body, and that like physical wounds they could also get better.  She identified a friend who slept near her, and we agreed she could be part of her support system, staying close when she was anxious.

I referred her to Doctors Without Borders, the mental health workers who could treat her acute stress and panic attacks.  A few days later, I saw her waiting calmly for her appointment, with her son on her lap. My job as a nurse is to assess and treat patients, to help them connect to other health resources, and to advocate for their well being.  However, with limited resources, I hoped that I had helped her as best I could.

Volunteer medical work isn’t especially glamorous or exciting. Sometimes I reflect on that after sweating through the day. But working with that young woman reminded me of what a privilege it is to be part of another person’s story, even briefly.

KEYWORDS: Michael Felber, Nurse, Volunteer, Mexico, Reynosa, migration

TOPICS: Volunteer stories, Mexico, Migration


Notes from the field

What GRM Looks Like to our Longest Serving Local Staff Member in the Mexico Team

by Benito Zambrano.

For me, it has been a great experience and whole-hearted pleasure to be able to help people in need in Reynosa, Tamaulipas.  This time, I saw many people from Haiti who were on their journey to the United States.  I have seen the suffering, crying, and pain suffered by each of them and their families.  But at the same time, I witnessed their strength, the way that they tolerate awful conditions that life has thrown at them, which are even worse during this cold time of year.  I see them living in their tents, without bathrooms or kitchens as they stay focussed on their destination of being granted asylum.

I recently was working in Senda de Vida, where I saw various migrants from countries such as Haiti, Russia, Honduras and El Salvador to name just a few, all coming together to help each other and going about their days, quietly and calmly, as if the various conflicts in their home countries did not exist.  It meant a lot to me to see them in that way.

Every day, GRM’s volunteers, together with local doctors from Reynosa, showed strength and determination to give the best possible care, treating the patients with love, integrity, concern, giving each one the care and time needed to treat them.

I worked with a volunteer doctor called Matt as he attended to a high-risk, pregnant patient.  The team came together to immediately identify her needs and work to give her the best possible help that they could.

At the same time, the local doctors were taking part in an ultrasound course which I helped to translate, over the course of a few days.  They worked with a boundless desire to learn, reviewing the pregnant patients and providing such joy when the patients found out the sex of their baby and that the pregnancy was going well.

I have always appreciated the efforts that GRM’s volunteers make to leave their homes to come and help all kinds of patients from those who only need a painkiller for a headache to those whose lives are in danger.  This service and dedication of each of them is amazing.

I am not sharing much of the work that GRM does, but I am totally convinced in my heart and mind that what GRM has done and continues to do is marvelous and they are helping those who are in need.

On a personal note, I am so proud to be part of GRM because it has given me the opportunity to be able to help a little and to be able to smile.

About Benny:
Benny is one of our longest serving members of the team in Mexico, having served for 2.5 years.  He was born in Matamoros, Tamaulipas in Mexico.  He is the second youngest in his family of 10.


Mi nombre es Benito Zambrano,me gustaría compartir la experiencia que tuve las semanas pasadas que estuve en Reynosa.

Para mí fue una gran experiencia y un placer de todo corazón lo digo de poder ayudar a las personas en necesidad.  Está vez que estuve allá miré muchos migrantes de Haití que van en su travesía rumbo a los Estados Unidos.

He visto el sufrimiento, llanto , y dolor que sufre cada uno de ellos y sus familias, he visto de la misma la manera como sacan fuerza y soportan las condiciones de vida que están pasando,en este tiempo con frío, condiciones de vivienda en carpas, sin baños,si tener donde cocinar y todos con el enfoque de llegar a su destino.

Me tocó estar un día en Senda de vida,me tocó ver migrantes de varios países como Haiti, Rusia, Honduras,El Salvador entre muchos más, todos con un mismo pensamiento, ayudándose entre sí, no importando los conflictos que tienen los que están en el poder, cada uno de ellos mirándose como seres humanos y platicando tranquilamente. Me gusto mucho ver eso en cada uno de ellos.

El equipo de voluntarios que estuvieron estás semanas en Reynosa tantos ellos como el equipo local de doctores, cada uno de ellos esforzándose cada día más y mejor para dar la atención lo mejor posible, tratando a pacientes con amor, integridad, preocupación, dándole el tiempo al paciente y profesionalismo por cada uno de los pacientes en necesidad.

Tuve la experiencia de estar presente cuando el Doctor Matt atendió a una paciente embarazada con mucho riesgo, inmediatamente identificó la necesidad y tanto él como el equipo hicieron lo posible para brindarle lo necesario y ayudarla lo cual se pudo lograr.

Los doctores locales esta vez estuvieron en un curso de ultrasonido y me tocó estar con ellos un par de días y como siempre con la mejor disposición de aprender cada día más, estuvieron revisando pacientes embarazadas y mire la alergia en ellas cuando les decían que sexo es el bebé y que el embarazo estaba bien.

Me ha llamado siempre la atención el esfuerzo de cada uno de los voluntarios de dejar sus comodidades para venir ayudar a un paciente que quizá solo necesita una pastilla para dolor de cabeza hasta para un paciente que está en riesgo su vida. Esa entrega y dedicación de cada uno de ellos es asombrosa.

No es mucho lo que comparto pero sí estoy convencido en mi mente y corazón lo que ha hecho y sigue está maravillosa organización Grm para ayudar aquellos en necesidad, mostrando el anhelo y preocupación para el necesitado.

En lo personal me enorgullece ser parte de Grm porque me da la oportunidad para poder ayudar un poco y poder lograr una sonrisa.

Benito Zambrano ha estado en nuestro equipo en México durante 2 años y medio.  Nació en la ciudad de Matamoros Tamaulipas México, soy el segundo menor de una familia de 10, también predicó la palabra de Dios.

Notes from the field

How I Helped a Pregnant Mum Avoid Severe Complications Whilst Volunteering in Reynosa

by Katie G., GRM Volunteer Nurse

*Please note, names have been changed to protect our patient’s identity

In November 2022, GRM met Fabienne*,  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 and also for the premature baby, whose lungs are not fully developed and will need NICU care immediately after delivery.

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

Doctors Without Borders notified GRM that this woman had been turned away from the Reynosa emergency department because they did not have NICU capacity. So I went with others to collect the patient and her family from the shelter and brought them to the clinic at Casa de Lulu.

When Dr. William, a local GRM staff doctor, contacted the maternity hospital in Reynosa, he 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 Fabienne 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 Fabienne’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 Fabienne and her family cross the border.

At this point, Fabienne was in pain, feeling contractions and leaking a significant amount of amniotic fluid. Nurse 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 Fabienne in the ambulance to the Rio Grande Hospital with Lia and the family following behind in an Uber.

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

At the hospital, Fabienne was immediately transferred through the ER and into the Labor and Delivery Unit. The L&D staff were pleased to hear she 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 Fabienne was safely settled in the L&D unit, GRM staff focused on the patient’s family. Unfortunately, the hospital would 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.

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

Our 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.

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.



Press Releases

Global Response Medicine Reynosa Project Update – November 2022

(17 November 2022, Reynosa, Tamaulipas in Mexico, several thousand people wait outside one of the main shelters, Senda de Vida. Photo credit: Brendon Tucker)

GRM REYNOSA (1 January 2022 to 31 October 2022):

REYNOSA: The Mexican Town that Acts as a Barometer for World Politics

The number of people arriving in Reynosa continues to outstrip those being allowed into the United States, causing the migrant population to grow. As a result, our outreach team is working hard to publicize our clinics and emergency services among new arrivals.

There are currently around 10,000 people on the streets of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, in northern Mexico. Although, without an official population count, we estimate that there could be as many as 15,000. Global Response (GRM) provides medical care to the population living on the streets in Reynosa’s shelters including:
Campamento Rio (~500 people), Senda de Vida I (~1700),
Senda de Vida II (~1500),
Casa Migrante (~200), and Casa de Clinica (~50).

We have tested over 30,000 people this year for COVID-19. Positive COVID results are now extremely rare.

GRM medical providers have seen almost 10,000 unique patients in Reynosa this year (in over 12,000 consultations), 1,300 of whom were seen in October. Typically, complaints are a direct result of the inhumane living conditions: skin conditions, gastrointestinal disorders, and a significant percent of maternal health cases.

Telemedicine consults are available for specialty cases and insecure locations:

  • Since the end of March 2022, we have provided over 120 pediatric telemedicine consults in conjunction with University of California San Francisco (UCSF) to residents of the Kaleo shelter in Reynosa, which our team does not physically visit as it is located to the west of the city in an area that we consider unsafe to travel.
  • We have also provided telemedicine consults to Russian patients – where we were unable to find a local translator – through a partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital. Through these consults, our team has diagnosed conditions such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

17 November 2022, Reynosa, Tamaulipas, GRM Volunteer, Jane Cross, pediatrician, treats a 2-year-old girl from Haiti, complaining of abdominal pain. Photo credit: Jade Bachtold

On average, we receive around one emergency call per day. The cases, varying in their urgency, have involved respiratory distress, trauma cases, maternal health complications, and emergent medical conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, and appendicitis.

Recent complicated cases have involved a young boy with Tuberculosis, a husband who was diagnosed with terminal cancer while his wife was in a maternal health consult with one of our physicians, and two patients with leprosy. When appropriate resources are not available in Mexico we attempt to place patients in hospitals in the US via humanitarian parole, although unfortunately not all patients survive the wait.

Changes in Citizenship as a Reflection of World Politics:

We have noticed that the town’s population reflects global events. On 21 September 2022, Russian President Putin introduced his conscription decree. A few weeks later, the migrant population in Reynosa saw Russians, Uzbecs,

and Chechens arriving in small groups with several stating ‘avoiding conscription’ as their reason for travel.

The following graph, based on Mexican Government statistics, shows the numbers of Russians entering Mexico in 2022. While the numbers are lower than the beginning of the year, they are trending slightly upwards, which tracks with what we are seeing in Reynosa. It is worth noting that Russian citizens do not currently need a visa to enter Mexico – they can apply online for an electronic travel authorization, making it relatively easy to enter the country.

Data from the Mexican Institute for Migration 2022:


The number of Russians encountered by Customs and Border Protection was also higher in September – the most recent data – than any month since May 2022. In October, there were fewer Venezuelans encountered at the southwest border but “encounters of Cuban and Nicaraguan asylum seekers fleeing their authoritarian regimes continue to be at an historic high. This reflects the challenge that is gripping the hemisphere, as displaced populations flee authoritarianism, corruption, violence, and poverty”, said CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller.[2]

Whatever happens in the world, it tends to follow that there are changes to the migrant population in Northern Mexico. With the disruption in Haiti, our clinic population saw a significant increase in Haitians in February and May of this year, following an increase in Haitians entering Mexico at the end of 2021. We saw a sharp increase in the number of Guatemalans after the twin hurricanes in 2020 and Afghan families after the 2021 pull out of US troops. At the start of the war in Ukraine in 2022, our Mexico clinics treated Ukrainian patients whilst GRM had another team in Ukraine doing the same.

That said, in spite of the increased number of Venezuelans entering Mexico, Venezuelans are underrepresented in the migrant population in Reynosa; we have seen fewer than 10 Venezuelan patients this year.

See here for a breakdown of our clinic’s population by month and by nationality.

Additional Background to Reynosa:

Reynosa accommodation is offered on a “conveyor belt system”. New arrivals have nothing as the shelters are full, eventually they may be given a tent by those moving into a shelter space and from the shelters they may be put on a list to assess whether or not they can cross to the United States.

By way of background, many people found themselves trapped on the border after the Trump administration implemented migration policies that aimed to prevent people entering the United States. The Biden Administration entered the White House vowing to end both of these policies although to date they

remain in place with a recent court decision requiring the US Government to terminate Title 42 within the next few weeks.[3]

Note that the US Government considers Tamaulipas to be so dangerous that it has issued a stage 4 – do not travel – advisory.

[1] es_Estadisticos/2022/Boletin_2022.pdf
[2] monthly-operational-update
[3] asylum-seekers

Please get in touch if you would like to arrange a visit, schedule an interview with one of our staff or patients, visit the shelters in Reynosa, or procure images from the clinics.

For further information please contact:
[email protected]

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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.