Funded Partner Spotlight: Proyecto Desarrollo Humano

Miguel is a hard worker. Each morning, he gets up early to try and find some work for the day. He needs to earn enough money to support his wife, Martha, and their two children: Miguel Jr. and Magdalena. They live in a modest structure that can be generously described as a house, but they make it a home. Being together and seeing his family smile puts all the hardships of living in a colonia into perspective. Why does he travel down an unpaved, dirt road to find day work in a neighborhood that lacks potable water and other services and infrastructure people often take for granted? He does it for them. Luckily, he’s not alone. He has help in the form of friends and supportive organizations that exist to make his life, and that of his community better.

For over 25 years, Methodist Healthcare Ministries has dedicated its efforts to increasing access to care for people like Miguel—for the least served. With a service area covering 74 counties across South Texas, there is no shortage of places that need assistance, but none may be more in need than the coloniasalong the Texas-Mexico border. These unincorporated communities often lack the most basic living necessities such as potable water, drivable roads or sewage treatment. In the face of that glaring need, however, what you will find there in abundance is hope and communities filled with people that represent the best of our humanity.

To help Methodist Healthcare Ministries realize its vision in communities like these, it relies on an incredible network of partners who share our vision and commitment to caring for the least served. One such partner is Proyecto Desarrollo Humano (PDH), located in the Deep South Texas town of Pernitas.

In 2004, the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (ICM) and their Mission Partners, founded Proyecto Desarrollo Humano (PDH) to help meet the unanswered needs of Hispanic immigrants in western Hidalgo County, Texas. Their mission statement calls them to: “Help develop human and spiritual potential, strengthen family bonds, build communities of peace, love, justice, and satisfy the needs of the community” through a holistic approach that focuses on health, education and social services. Miguel and his family are emblematic of the type of person who rely on PDH to survive and to access programs and services needed to better their lives.

In the area of health, PDH offers a number of programs and services to the community surrounding it. The Clinica Maria Luisa provides limited medical and dental services for those without access to affordable care or insurance. The clinic is staffed by volunteer physicians and medical professionals at little or no cost.

Additionally, PDH offers a Women’s Wellness program offering Zumba Exercise classes, nutritional education materials, diabetic counseling and education, and mental health services.

The education offerings PDH makes available include English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for adults offered in the mornings and evenings and after school tutoring for children of all ages, as well as summer programming for kids.

Lastly, to provide the community with needed social services, PDH operates a thrift store where the community can find needed essentials, leadership & community-development programming, parenting classes, sewing groups, social work assistance, home and community improvement projects and the Organic Community Garden.

The Organic Community Garden includes hands-on instruction from experts at the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) and provides participants with information that’s required to help them maintain, plan and cultivate the garden. Participants can grow their own fresh, organic food in a safe space provided by PDH. The program is inspirational and empowering for the participants, who can then profit off the fruit of their own labor.

Miguel and his family are composite characters emblematic of the hundreds of the real people served by PDH. They are primarily new immigrants to the United States. They live in the surrounding colonias and the conditions are often substandard. The people make do with what they have and make the best out of their situation. They are living well below the federal poverty level and their housing consists of small trailers or bare structures which they work on to improve with the help of PDH. The men are often day laborers supporting young families. 54% of the population is under the age of 18 and attending public school. Their parents are doing their best to navigate through a language barrier and an unfamiliar new reality, but they are gracious and grateful for all the assistance provided by PDH.

Methodist Healthcare Ministries has been proud to support Proyecto Desarrollo Humano since 2014 by awarding $190,000 in funding for a number of their programs and offerings, such as supplies for the community garden, parenting programs, family support activities, clinical supplies, transportation assistance and funding for staffing. In addition to the funding, Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ community-based counselor, Diana Garza Martinez, provides counseling services twice a week at PDH and Wesley Nurse Veronica Lee is on site three days a week to provide diabetic education and support to patients in need.

Sister Fatima Santiago, executive director of Proyecto Desarrollo Humano, stated that “Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ support and collaboration continue to be invaluable to us. Their financial assistance enables us to expand our service ability to our materially poor people. They also put us in contact with the broader community, enlightening us to contacts and activities. We greatly benefit from the moral support and advice given by our grant officer on her periodic visits.”

It’s incredible to find partners like Proyecto Desarrollo Humano who are dedicated and embedded into the fabric of the communities Methodist Healthcare Ministries serves. By working together, we can address the needs of an area and population that is often overlooked and under-resourced. Being there to lend a helping hand to the Miguels, Marthas and Miguel Jrs. and Magdalenas of the world, helps these organizations build stronger, more resilient families and thriving communities full of opportunity and hope.

To learn more about Proyecto Desarrollo Humano and to find out how you can help, visit

Since 1995, Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. has provided over $1.06 billion to improve the wellness of the least served through our direct care services, strategic grantmaking and community partnerships. Methodist Healthcare Ministries is proud to partnerwith organizations that share our mission and organizational objectives of increasing access to care to the least served across South Texas.