Message from Moonie – MAY 2, 2021.
The first quarter of 2021 has shown that 2020 was not a failure. The Tepehua Community Center continued as usual. For those around the world below the poverty line nothing changed at all, poverty, illiteracy, lack of work, shortage of food…and the pandemic on top of that meant just another brick in the wall. Tepehua had its share of Covid-19 cases and the usual village deaths with no diagnosis so no one knew what they actually died of. Meanwhile the Tepehua Team looked inward to see how to adapt to the new norm and try to fix it. The Medical and Dental units stayed open as essentials and we had nurses and pharmaceutical staff as victims of Covid, but they survived well as young and healthy women tend to.
Water: The need for potable water all over Lakeside is an appalling situation, and after experiencing the huge give away of free potable water in Tepehua for the year of 2020, courtesy of Rotary clubs, it was decided to put in the distribution station using reverse osmosis. Giving away free water was only a band-aid to an ongoing problem. Prior to building we made a survey of what people thought they could pay for a garrafon (5 gallon bottle) and they said 15 pesos without cutting out to much from their budget. Market price is between 27 and 47. We are breaking even at 15 pesos, and as our intention was reaching sustainability only with no profit, we have succeeded.
The barrio of San Pedro and a few other places also benefit, so the water problem is solved for the few. Of course, new wells with drinking water from the City would be the real answer, but that is nowhere in the future at this point. We hope to see an improvement in health regarding kidney failure and diabetes with the availability of potable water and nutrition education.
Our social every Friday to serve hot meals stopped, in its place we send a food dispensa to the family of all the basics, oil and cleaning material. This is much better for the family unit as they all benefit, eliminates waste and is less work for the women at the center, so this new practice is now permanent. We will save socializing for special occasions, like when our world is free of the pandemic.
The new project for 2021/22 is the desperate need for sanitation, to try and handle ‘open defecation’. This is not a chosen method of the people, they have no choice. The lack of toilets in the very modest shacks and the lack of communal latrines make it a necessity to go where ever it is convenient.
Having spent at least two months on research and walking through the village, going to the local Indian affairs office etc, we finally came to the conclusion that the most sanitary way to solve the problem for the masses, is communal toilets in the congested areas that can be attached to the City sewer. I fully expect this pilot program of two (hopefully) communal toilets to be a great success…and we would like to raise money for more in 2022…not just in Tepehua but for the other barrios as well – progress always starts with one. There will be educational information in the communal toilets as well…especially for the children, who will have their own toilet according to their size.
Education is opening up again and will be in full swing in the August semester. Adult education and English, sewing classes are already active with other projects like counseling preparing to start.
Once again good things come out of a bad situation. All trauma brings change and most often it is change for the good.
Unfortunately this pandemic turned into a political struggle which should never have happened.
Thank you for your support in our struggle against the injustice of poverty, perhaps one day there will be a level playing field but until that happens, we have to give a hand up to those in our society under the poverty line through no fault of their own. It benefits the community as a whole and makes a healthy middle class which is needed for community survival.
Yours in Rotary and the Barrio of Tepehua.
We have had a few food and monetary donations for which we are very grateful. The largest being a two ton donation of grains, sugar, lentils and beans and a vast array of cleaning material like bleach and Lysol etc. as well as canned food, oil, vinegar, hot sauce,coffee…all the basic essentials.
Enough items were put in bags for around 200 families for two weeks…keeping some back for the emergency drop ins, those off the grid that come by looking for food, and enough for the water delivery truck to also give out to those at high risk for kidney disease.
The idea now at this supposed peak in the Coronavirus, is to close down again and regroup. We will buy and accept donations and open again in another two weeks. Sandra will be on call for emergency drop ins…and Moonie will be available for all pick ups of donations for people who do not want to leave home.
IF ANY OF YOU OUT THERE CAN START YOUR OWN FOOD DRIVE AMONG YOUR FRIENDS PLEASE DO SO. Moonie can pickup from you or meet you at Tepehua Treasures for a quick swap.
WHAT WE NEED.: We need support for the Maternal health program. The virus does not stop babies being born. We need powdered milk, baby food, diapers in all sizes, sanitary items, then of course more of the items above like oil,and all basics. Distribution bags are in different colours. Keeping cleaning material separate from the food. Each family gets one of each colour.
Please follow all the safety rules as best you can and if you need masks let Mary Ruzich know, we will get them to you. If you do go out take sanitary wipes with you for your hands. Stay safe.
Message from Moonie
From Moonyeen King, President of the Board, April 20, 2020
The Tepehua Community Center needs to find a wholesale outlet in Guadalajara that will sell us large quantities of beans, rice, sugar, anything with a shelf life. Although we are not stricken yet with the virus…we are with hunger. Nobody in the village (as in every village) has a job to go to. With the center closed they do not even have the one hot meal a week, and women are coming to the center begging us for food. We are going to have to open a food bank.
If we buy wholesale we can re-package and it will save us money by doing it that way…we will be putting out a call for donated food as well. Drop off or pick-up.
The village church bells have stopped calling the people to prayer, distancing in the home and hygiene is nigh impossible if you have two rooms and over seven people in the house. They are facing grim times.
If they do not get enough to eat they will not be able to fight what could be ahead. Barrio people are fighting on several fronts, a major one is kidney failure in the young, caused by polluted wells and lack of affordable potable water. The Center can probably keep distributing water until the end of the year. Adding hunger to that and no work…will open the families to frustration and family and substance abuse. A people can only take so much.
So until the bells start to ring again…we are our Brothers keeper.
Please e-mail Moonie if you can help in anyway. The same if you have cash donations or canned and packaged food. All will help. We will be using the Tepehua Center as a distribution and packaging station. But pick up is available.
From Moonyeen King, President of the Board, April 6, 2020
As our world closes its ranks to face an invisible threat, and we all retreat into our place of thought, looking forward has been put on hold temporarily, so we look to what has passed and perhaps learn from it.
The Tepehua Community Center itself has been put on hold and has closed down the soup kitchen that was enjoyed by more or less 200 Mothers and children each Friday. Classes and other services have been suspended . ALL volunteers have been suspended until further notice.
The Medical Center will remain open at all times as needed, with Doctor and Nurses having to sterilize their own area as volunteer cleaners stay home. The pharmacy team is also under self quarantine. The Doctor and nurses will have the key to medicines required. The dental unit by choice remains open, but it is by appointment only.
The other service still in action is the water program that delivers potable water to those at risk, designed for those at risk for kidney disease. As now all the poor in the barrios are at risk, we can probably keep this going for another 12 months, perhaps a little longer but it does depend on demand. What to do when the money runs out is another problem to be faced when the time comes. Tepehua Team has arranged that the driver goes directly to the distributor and then to the client’s home, so that at no time are the people obliged to go to the center for pick up and neither does the driver, keeping social distance at all times
The Tepehua Treasures Consignment store in Riberas, our main source of constant revenue for the upkeep and support of the programs at the Community Center, is closed down by Government order. Our volunteers were prepared to keep it open but such loyalty needs to be protected too. We will carry the store for as long as needed. Other stores are unfortunately closing down for keeps. The financial damage to many small businesses will be huge. Because of support from the public in general over the years we can see this through. Our store will be strong again soon.
The situation in Chapala seems to be under control. Police and the Mayors office are driving around town with fog horns urging people to stay home. Banks are practicing distancing by letting only two people in at once. The town is not dead by any means, even though 50% of the restaurants are closed, as are schools and gathering places.
We do have a mini epidemic in the area of Influenza, the local Riberas Hospital reported quite a large number of out patients. Today prior to noon, there were no patients at the clinic in Tepehua. A very good sign that unimportant cases are just staying home. Hopefully the situation in the barrios will remain this way, which is plausible, as they have little contact with the outside world whose travelers are the spreaders.
The Tepehua Team takes this time of quiet to see how fortunate we have been with the Private sectors support over the years, as well as Rotary International support, plus the dedication of long time volunteers…how could we fail?