Siloé Ministries (pronounced SIL-oh-ay) is a 501c3 Christian organization serving in La Mision, Baja California and other poor communities in Mexico. We provide needy families with free health education, medical care and Christian counseling.
At Siloé Ministries, we desire to see wholeness in the lives of the people and community that we serve. We provide free medical care as means to physical healing; health education as a foundation for sustainable prevention and lifelong healthy habits; and spiritual support as a pathway into Christian community and a relationship with Jesus Christ.
We currently run a free, full-service medical clinic on the grounds of our local Christian fellowship, Templo Cristiano Elim, in the village of Santa Anita. Our organization’s permanent home–a 6,000 sq. ft. Wellness Center –is under construction and due to open by late 2017.
Patients range from a few weeks old to the elderly with ailments that include diabetes, acute infections, hypertension, dermatological conditions, and everything in between! We also provide pre- and post-natal care to the women of La Mision and surrounding areas. Due to our rural location (roughly 40 minutes in either direction from a hospital), there is an acute need for basic medical care and health education.
Our ministry provides dental care to the community thanks to two Mexican dentists who volunteer their time with us several days per month. Our dental room is also available to visiting dentists and oral hygienists who desire to bless a needy community with much needed care.
Siloé has contracted with a Mexican laboratory and imaging center to provide our patients with diagnostics at reduced rates. We have also built up a network of specialists on both sides of the border to provide needed expertise and case consults.
In recent years, Siloé has become a destination for patients with medical conditions that require special care and attention not always available through the Mexican healthcare system. Since 2011 we have successfully advocated on behalf of several patients with severe and life-threatening conditions, including: a young boy with a brain tumor, a father of three with a rare heart condition, a 10-year-old girl with a congenital hip defect, a man suffering from a botched hernia operation, and an elderly woman in danger of losing her eyesight. We are amazed that patient advocacy has become such a major component of our ministry, and marvel at the connections that God has provided to help us with each patient’s case.
The clinic, and our ministry at large, is run solely on donations. We do not charge the patients for their consult, though often our patients have shown their gratitude with gifts of fresh fruit or homemade tortillas! Most patients are required to pay for at least half of their lab and imaging work, though we make exceptions for patients who are unable to.
Nearly all donated funds go directly toward our patient fund, health education efforts and medical outreaches. Our administrative costs are minimal, and all American staff members are unpaid volunteers who raise their own support. Our philosophy is, the more we receive, the more we can give.
Even though our ministry is practical in nature, we believe that this provides us with a unique entry into peoples’ lives. Healthcare is quite personal and intimate, and we have discovered that it removes many of the barriers to real relationships and authentic conversation that exist. Discussing health problems is a natural bridge to talking about greater emotional problems and spiritual matters. We see our ministry as both a way to love others unconditionally (we don’t turn anyone away from our free services), and an opportunity to introduce our patients to Jesus Christ and Christian community.
The La Mision valley is home to somewhere between 3,000-5,000 residents (reliable census data is hard to come by!). We are located on the Baja coastline halfway between Rosarito and Ensenada–approximately one hour south of the U.S. border. Essentially a quiet ranching community, La Mision is a 40-minute drive in either direction to a hospital. For our patients, many of whom lack means of transportation, that is simply too far for anything short of an emergency. Though most of our patients come from within a five-mile radius, we have drawn patients from as far as Tijuana and communities south of Ensenada.
The primary industries in La Mision are agriculture, construction and tourism. Unemployment is high, and good jobs are hard to come by. For those fortunate enough to have work, the average wage is $20 per day. Many families struggle to make ends meet, and alcohol and drug abuse are widespread.
Many local adults have only a seventh-grade level education; some are functionally illiterate. Though younger generations are far more likely to graduate from high school, there still lacks basic health education and an understanding of healthy eating and lifestyles.
We regularly partner with other local ministries. We provide care for the residents of a men’s rehabilitation center and occasional on-call care for Door of Faith Orphanage–home to 120 children.
We regularly host visiting medical missionaries and short-term volunteers who want to serve in our community and participate in outreaches across Northern Baja. We have been blessed to serve alongside dozens of visiting medical volunteers, including MDs, DOs, PAs, RNs, dentists and public health experts.
In many cases, visiting medical groups simply see patients out of our community clinic. But we have also planned special healthcare outreach events in nearby communities. We’ve planned health fairs, classes, rural outreaches, and more. We have strong reservations about “hit and run” medical missions, as we’ve seen the unintended consequences and confusion sometimes left in the wake of well-intentioned medical volunteers who lack relationships with local practitioners. We make every effort to develop lasting relationships with our patients so that their care continues long after they’ve been treated by our team or visiting practitioners.
Our missions efforts are not limited to healthcare in our immediate vicinity. We regularly seek out opportunities to minister to communities beyond the La Mision valley where we are located. Since 2009, we have held a Christmas party in “El Descanso,” a poor farming community. In recent years we’ve expanding our Christmas program to include four separate communities, where we will provide gifts, a hot meal, food baskets and a Christmas message to roughly 100 families.
We are a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization in both the United States and Mexico, and can receive tax-deductible donations in both countries.
- United States: We are a 501(c)(3) international aid organization operating under the name “Siloe Ministries, Inc.”
- Mexico: We operate legally as an “Asociacion Civil” (nonprofit corporation) under the name “Fundacion Comunitaria Siloé.”