Message from Moonie – October 8, 2020
The year 2020 started off with the same problems as 2019 and the year before that, except in 2020 a pandemic was thrown in to see if anyone was awake. There was a brief pause as we surveyed the chaos.
We reviewed the needs of the Tepehua Community and because of Covid-19 restrictions had to look at the problems from a different angle. Our priorities changed. As labor, schools, stores, everything we took for granted closed down, people realized they were in trouble. It especially hit the poor in the barrios whose very survival existed on casual labor. Our Tepehua team realized we have been facing the same problems for fifteen years. Hunger, lack of potable water, education, sanitation and affordable health care. Time to fix it.
Affordable dental and health care became sustainable for the people by charging affordable prices in the Tepehua Clinic. All through the pandemic our medical unit has been open as an essential service. Donations are needed to keep things stocked on the pharmacy shelves especially in pediatric medicine.
We had our first suspected Covid-19 case and we are awaiting the test results. The clinic was immediately closed down for the rest of the day to be sterilized. The Tepehua medical volunteers acted swiftly and professionally. We are really proud of our volunteer doctors and nurses and those volunteers in the pharmacy.
The village of San Pedro, East of Chapala is in dire need of our help as they have a renal failure epidemic because of lack of potable water. They also have dengue fever, which should start easing up, the rainy season is at an end. Unfortunately they have several cases of Covid-19 with two people on oxygen. Without testing we cannot be sure what they are dying from at an average of one to three a day. This is particularly worrisome as all the villages are connected by bus, and not all the bus users wear a mask. . First respondents desperately need disposable gowns and masks as well as hair restraints like hats or shower caps.
Since March we closed down the food program as a social each week, and started despensas of food every Friday, making packages of basic foods for over 200 people or more every week, with the help of the private sector donations and local Rotary Clubs. The donations ran out and the service was recently dropped. We would like to restart, but so many other emergency priorities have taken its place.
Water. This is an essential too, but the Tepehua team has found a way to help in their corner of the world. The government will not be cleaning wells or controlling the spiraling water and milk prices any time soon. To combat the kidney disease that is killing so many barrio people, with the help of Rotary donations a program was set up to provide FREE water to those at risk, such as lactating mothers and pregnant women and as many others we could service. That program also had to come to an end when the money ran out. We have made it sustainable now with help from Rotary International we put in our own distribution center using reverse osmosis. A unit that can produce 300 garrafons daily. The water will be sold to local people (and other organizations that are helping local barrios) at a cheap affordable, controlled price.
Sustainability is so incredibly important and although charity is meant to put people back on their feet, it is not supposed to take away their independence…as the man said “….teach them how to fish.” Customers for the water must pay the cost it will take to maintain the station. A survey showed they are happy to do this for a constant supply of potable water. Thanks to Rotary International we were able to attach the reverse osmosis to solar panels for cheaper electricity which will help us keep the cost of the water down. Solar electricity was donated to us a few years ago…again thanks to the support of Rotary. We need donations for this program to purchase the garrafons to start the program Once a client has a garrafon (which will be free), to get a refill they must bring it with them.
In all this time the private sector was very supportive with donations and we were able to cover hidden costs all these projects presented to us… plus help the local women who needed special help financially through domestic disasters of one kind or another, especially medical help with pharmaceuticals or the bus to the local hospitals.
Education. We are always be looking for individual sponsors for young stars who need further education such as medical, lawyers, astronauts, all dreams are welcome. Especially to help pay to get the very young into the school system. Without money for registration, uniforms and books, education is denied to many. Schools are still closed at this time due to Covid-19. Meanwhile, for the few with access to computers education is still possible.
We urge you to help medical units like ours, or Poco a Poco, or the maternal health unit that is now branching out to family planning once again. Women in poverty are painfully aware they have to limit the family size if they are to survive the next few years. This program is free for any women who comes to the door. This is no longer just a case of “freedom of choice”, it is a necessity.
Please be vigilant. You are responsible for your life and those around you. As world leaders have found out, Covid-19 is affecting everyone, no matter their status. Please be your brothers keeper.
Yours in Rotary for the Tepehua Board
Message from Moonie – August 28, 2020
This year, when seemingly the world paused and the Tepehua Team were all supposed to have time for reflection as we waited for the pandemic to pass through, folk up at Tepehua Center had no time to waste…like a loaded truck going uphill, the load shifted as we sped up the work to accommodate change.
Hours spent making up despensas from wholesale sacks of beans and lentils, rice, sugar, and oil – all the basics needed for protein meals for the people. Their poverty didn’t change but access to labor and food did. They walked an hour over Tepehua terrain to line up to receive bags of food. Donors for this effort was from the private sector, Rotary Clubs Chapala Sunrise and Ajijic.
Free potable water was given away to those at risk for kidney disease, lactating mothers and for weaning babies…trying to teach a barrio to stay away from sweet carbonated drinks that were destroying the health of the family. Both these programs will begin to trickle off now as the sudden emergency of a killer pandemic loses its grip of fear on people and donations start trickling off at the birth of a new norm. Because giving it away is not sustainable.
The Medical clinic and Dental clinic stayed open as an essential service and our educational team worked behind scenes trying to find a solution for children who didn’t have access to computer classes and other challenges teachers and students faced.
How to make needed programs sustainable? Following the rule of ‘teach them how to fish and they will never go hungry’. Not so easy as it sounds but doable. With this in mind, we are starting our own water distribution unit on the premises of the center that has access to the street. The machine for the Reverse Osmosis system and cleaning station will go up in the next two weeks, having completed the containing building and hopefully we will be producing affordable, life sustaining potable water by the years end.
We need donations for the hidden costs and garafones, (large water bottles) of all sizes. Rotary International have pledged aid to buy the machinery to get us going, more on that later. Having done research of how much the poor can afford for potable water, we feel we can keep the cost under that bar, but will need a dry run (or in this case, a wet run) to test the overall cost of weekly output.
Regardless of whether the teaching system ever gets back to the same routine or not, children need computers, they will need them for the rest of their lives as all work in most any field will be computer intensive. Tepehua would like to see all its students with a Chrome Book or something similar that they can carry to classes, or have classes come to them, take it home and let it become part of their life as it inevitably has to. Any help or ideas you can send on education to the poor via computer tablet, will be extremely appreciated, as the only way through poverty is education.
Each hurdle in reducing poverty is important, we at Tepehua try to prioritize but it is very difficult, each program has its own merit. Is the habitat repair program less important than the education? or medical? they are linked together like a life line. The answer is to keep them all going at once. If a child is always sick, because they live in a home that is perpetually damp from a leaky roof, how can they excel in school? If they are always hungry how can they concentrate…or if suffering with parasites or water born diseases there is no strength to handle the process of schooling.
The Tepehua Team is powerless without your strength and support,
which has been in abundance and we thank you for it. We are as strong as you have made us.
Stay safe, and don’t take your safety for granted. Exercise precaution especially in crowds. Your life and the life of others is squarely in your hands.
Yours in Rotary and for the Board of Tepehua
Message from Moonie – August 3, 2020
Tepehua Treasures store is only open for 9 hours a week but it is doing surprisingly well…the buyer of the frog pots will be happy to know they are all gone, people keeping busy redoing their homes and gardens. Our clothes, kept immaculate by Toni are moving fast. We are having them donated to us just as fast. So many people are going back home until the virus trickles off to nothing, some for good and traveling light, so again, we are getting a lot from the private sector. For those of you who are going home, or who have already gone,keep in touch and stay well.
Meanwhile, the center is going ahead with the plans for a potable water plant. Our aim is to supply water the people can afford. This project is an effort to combat the young from dying with kidney disease, especially the babies. We are expecting a Rotary grant coming in any day now, but construction has already started, and it should be operating before the end of the year. I will keep you posted.
A Rotary grant from Chapala Sunrise Club has kept the food distribution program going and it will last for another FOUR months…then trickle off. We are hoping the local economy picks up by then.
Moonie had a tooth pulled Friday by the Tepehua Dentist, Dr. Tomas.. Coward that she is, cringing at the thought…but he was great!, it was painless and gentle. I recommend him should you wish to take advantage of the Dental clinic…his costs are very low.
Same thing with Dr. Zayhra on family medicine…please feel free to use her for consultation, she too is compassionate and good, and there is little waiting and not crowded. Wednesday from 10 am until Noon, and Friday 10 am until noon. Wednesday is less crowded as we have just started the extra day. Dr. Zayhra also works at the San Antonio hospital twice a week. Cost will be minor.
For those of you who traverse Tepehua, you will notice many new buildings going up and road improvement, this will bring work to the Tepehua people – menial labor like gardening, house maids and general home maintenance, and the little Ma and Pa shops will get a break. It also means the very poor will be pushed further into the Valley…but little by little Tepehua will no longer be a place to fear as it was before. Even the police have come back to patrol the streets. And if the police aint scared aint nobody scared!!!!
The future of Tepehua is looking bright…it has been a long time coming! Just get this virus gone (or nearly) and let the sunshine in again, things will not get back to normal, they will be better than normal.
Keep positive, there is always tomorrow.
Message from Moonie – July 6, 2020
When your status in life throws challenges at you every day as it does for those living in poverty and on top of that you get a natural disaster like the pandemic – sometimes those challenges are too much to handle, especially when you also have the responsibility of children. When improvising is no longer working for you and you hit the bottom…the hand that reaches out to help you up so that you can fight another day is sorely needed and appreciated. We have all been there, and if you haven’t…you will.
Your donation is that hand…and while charity is not a sustainable answer to the immediate problem, it is sustaining life until the recipient gets back on feet that will carry them through until times get better. The hand you offer makes an ENORMOUS difference in the outcome of a problem that is beyond people’s control. It cannot be handled alone, but a group can do it together. When we come together as one we can make a difference.
The Tepehua Team again want to thank the participants in PayPal which keeps the despensas program going…plus free potable water to those at risk of kidney disease. Food and water…without which we cannot survive. After we get over this bump in the road, the team plan to get the water situation sustainable and keep you posted on that…meanwhile, what you are doing is keeping a disaster at bay with compassion. To say thank you is not enough…love is all we have.
As the man said “love is all we need…”.
Program & School Cost Update – June 26, 2020
We wanted to update our followers with information on the Tepehua Education program and the costs associated with a child attending school. During the current time funds have been diverted from the education program to help feed the community. Our hope is that this information will result in more donations towards education.
Historically, the student population supported by the Tepehua Community Center (TCC) Educational Program is heavily skewed towards those attending Kinder and Primary School which combined represent 60% of that population. Only 20% make it on to Secondary and 10% each to Prep and University levels respectively. We MUST do a “better job” at helping kids to be successful in Kinder-Primary so a higher percent move on to higher education or, at minimum, are better prepared for life with better communication and math skills.
Barriers to success often have their roots in the dynamics and beliefs of the parents of these young children but are frequently related to health issues (hearing, vision, behavioral) that the family cannot afford to address. Often, in the case of young girls, education is not a priority. Sometimes it is as simple as not being able to afford shoes which are mandatory. Doing a “better job” means our education program not only needs to be more attuned to resolution of these traditional barriers but we need to do our best to anticipate how to address the challenges that the New Normal from COVID-19 brings.
These children don’t start out with small dreams. They are enthusiastic and excited to learn. They do not create their own barriers but, without encouragement and support, these barriers become insurmountable, accepted and a sad reality that can go on for generations.
Success for the Tepehua education program is a big and complex challenge. As an old saying goes, “you eat an elephant one bite at a time” but it is a very long process without the help of many. It is an opportunity that is bite size and manageable with the help of many. The table of education related costs attached here (which does not include TCC facilities or the many Hidden Costs) shows the minimum yearly cost of basic education of our students from Kinder thru High School (Prep). It represents 90% of our student population. Costs are reflected in Pesos and USD. If you are an Expat from North America or Europe, you may be surprised at how little this cost is. You will likely be amazed that a barrier to a child’s education could be resolved by as little as what many might spend for lunch today. We hope you will join us in any manner you can that will help us raise the bar for educational success in the underserved Tepehua community at a time when there are so many new and unforeseen challenges. With your help, these too will become bite sized.
Don Edgerton, Tepehua Director of Education
MEMO FROM MOONIE – June 16, 2020
The Tepehua Team would like to thank everyone who has contributed financially to the food effort of Tepehua Center. For those of you who contributed through PayPal, forgive me if you haven’t received my personal thanks for donations, sometimes names slip by.
Special thanks to the small team of women who spend the week making despensas for Friday distribution. They are a dedicated and determined group. We would also like to thank the Chapala Sunrise Rotary Club for their support of Tepehua Center at this time – this financial assistance has enabled this important program to continue.
While it looks as though’ restrictions will last through July/August, we will see schools open for the last semester of the year. We will put a notice on this page of what it costs to send a child to school in each grade. Nothing changes the world like education. This generation of barrio kids are emerging as bright young thinkers. Anything else we can throw at poverty to stop the spread is nothing but a band-aid compared to the cure of education.
The Tepehua Education program is run by Tepehua Director of Education, Don Edgerton. His email is email@example.com should you be interested to help some bright young star reach for a dream. Please ask him, and Don will send you information on your chosen student should you feel inclined to support a child through school. Helping with the education of a youngster gives the joy of achievement shared. Schools here are not free. The only thing families do not pay for is the teaching time. Books, uniforms, registration fee, bus fees, and as they get into higher grades other things are added without which you may NOT enter school. There are many important but hidden costs. When families are confronted with lack of employment or health issues often education is put aside, once put aside it usually stays there…especially for girls. In today’s world we’d like all to be able to dream – and achieve their dreams. There is room on the moon for all who wish to go there
Memo from Moonie – May 26, 2020
Tepehua news in January 2020 predicted something exciting would occur this year but a plague wasn’t exactly what was on the mind. Yet here we are. Lives have been changed forever. We wonder if the next year of our lives will be like it is now or if what we knew as ‘Normal’ will be forgotten.
The mission of Tepehua Centro Comunitario was to help a village help itself…now it is to help that same village survive.
Although living day to day in poverty has been typical here, somehow they managed to find food for the table…if barely. Now there is no menial or casual labor for the uneducated masses and of course this brings hunger and need.
To stop the high mortality rate of renal failure due to lack of clean water, the Center has been concentrating on getting clean water to the people, the plague on top of that catapults the needs to another level. Women of the village need help so malnutrition does not take over the family…especially pregnant women and new mothers, some of whom are only 14 years old.
Tepehua Community Center started a food bank and every Friday scenes such as shown in the photo below take place. (Taken May 22nd) This good work takes the place of socializing, educational and other activities during the week.
Monday through Thursday is spent making food packages with the basics – beans, lentils, rice etc, as well as cleaning products. Special dispensas for pregnant women and new mothers are also provided which include diapers, dry milk and sanitary items as well as fresh vegetables. On the 22nd, dispensas were served until we ran out of people. Predictions are that each week as word of mouth travels beyond our village, the amount of people will escalate. No one is turned away. At this time we are serving 250 women.
We would like to thank the people that helped us start this program, the private sector of Lakeside ever generous and local organizations. We also had help from the private sector over the border and sometime in the future all donors will be honored, for without their help we would not be able to delay more tragedy on top of the primary one…which is poverty.
We can carry the food program and fresh water program probably for another two months…always believing something good will happen. In every crisis the world has, people step forward from shadows and help their fellow man. The Tepehua Team believe in this.
Our Tepehua Treasures thrift shop, will be opening in June for just a few afternoons a week. It is our only stable source of income. It is more than a thrift shop, as our customers are people who support us because they want to help but have no way to do it themselves. We thank them for the support…morally too, as they lift us in many ways just by believing we can do it. A few even stepped forward to pay our rent for two months so we wouldn’t fold like so many others have. At this time we are open every Wednesday between Noon and three only…we will slowly change with the circumstances. Sharing your books would be wonderful, reading is a constant companion.
The Medical Center has been open through this difficult time, and we are happy to report it has been very quiet. The flu season is approaching along with the rains. This will be the tough one, but it is the same every year.
If you have a Facebook page and would like to assist in helping the villages survive this challenge, please feel free to share this. You never know what good will happen. Thank you.
The Tepehua Team wish you the best and above all the wisdom to stay safe. You hold your safety kit in your own hands, and for the best part for other people too. We are all our brother’s keepers.
For the Board of Tepehua.
President of the Board Moonyeen King writes an article about Tepehua monthly for the newspaper El Ojo del Lago. All of these articles are archived here.