By Moonyeen King. April 2020
I was on the Board of Love in Action (Amor en Acion), 20 plus years ago in the now Tepehua Community Center. Love in Action started off as a day care center… but women forgot to come back for their babies. It became an Orphanage, a tiny building. We reached 60 children laying on the floor for lack of room…so fundraising was done, and they moved around 2007/8 into a very large facility in Chapala. They are still there today housing some 25 or 30 young people…leaning more to education through a missionary group. In 2008 I resigned and took over the Tepehua building in 2010.
With the help of a donor we bought a 99 year lease from LIA, took a year for renovations and expansion, and started a soup kitchen. (For food we used to go around the restaurants after they closed to pick up the food they had frozen to donate.) We were a handful of Gringas and Gringos….then we talked to the people once they learnt to trust us, what help do they need etc, slowly the Tepehua Center began to rise, out of the need of the people. The change has been remarkable. Every project and department was run by ex-pats…who trained a local women to take over…the center now is basically all Mexican and local.
Dr.Joe de Leon was one of the founders. He and I set up our first medical unit, using a dining room table with a plastic curtain around it in the dining room. Then Rotary International stepped in to build the clinic as you see it today. Most of our founders are still on call to help financially when needed.
The board has changed, but those retired but still remaining are always there to help. There is something about Tepehua that is hard to let go of.
Almost all the original volunteers are in the Tepehua Treasures store, having successfully worked themselves out of a job in the Center. The Tepehua Treasures store was started in 2012. One of the founders, finally caved to my coercing telling me that it would never fly…he nevertheless paid for a years rent to get us going. It took a year and a whole pile of rubbish begged, stolen and borrowed to fill the space…but it took hold and about 18 months after opening we started making enough money to pay rent…now Tepehua Treasures is the main source of income for the Tepehua Centers projects. Other fund raising and canvassing organizations such as Rotary promote projects like Habitat/water/education.