For those who live alongside the border and south of Texas, generational poverty is a norm. 29 million people live in colonias, settlements that often lack basics like running water, electricity, and internet. 2/3 of adults and 90% of youth who live in these communities are US citizens–yet experience a lack of access to the vital condition everyone needs to thrive that results in generational poverty–conditions like access to meaningful work and wealth, humane housing, lifelong learning, broadband, and more. People who live in the colonias are resourceful and entrepreneurial and have a strong sense of belonging and community.
Why Does this Challenge Exist?
Since the colonization of America by Spaniards, indigenous people at the border of Texas were considered to be “heathens”, and were forced to become slaves and to identify as Hispanic or be killed. Hispanic people at the border of Texas have lived a life of second class citizens for generations. While over 90% of those living in substandard settlements called the colonias are US born citizens, they live in communities without running water, electricity, access to schools, internet etc. This systemic disinvestment has led to generational poverty across vital conditions. For more information, read this report from the Dallas Federal Reserve.
Who Came Together?
Methodist Healthcare Ministries (MHM) of South Texas has a mission to advance well-being for those who are “least served” in 74 counties in the southern tip of Texas. MHM runs a foundation and a health care system that work together to achieving its mission. MHM has a long history of investing in its communities, but outside of health care, its investments would often be short-term and reactive. MHM had learned that lack of access to these upstream vital conditions were compromising well-being in their communities and wanted to shift their environment to create greater well-being.
The Role of WE in the World
How We Did It
Approach & Building Blocks
And Failings Forward
“The focus has sharpened to more intentionally advance health equity. We are now working with our communities at a deeper level to focus on social determinants, or gaps that are necessary to overcome to help their communities thrive.”
– Jaime Wesolwski, President & CEO Methodist Healthcare Ministries