Please help San Pedro Itzicán and the local villages
If you want to know what we do, and where we do it, click on this link to see the History of Poco a Poco...
So many new things are happening, it's difficult to explain it all!
So many changes! Anita Torres, our dedicated volunteer, was hired in October 2021 as the new Director of the Centros de Desarrollos Comunitarios del H. Ayuntamiento Constitucional de Poncitlán. This means she is busier than ever, because she is organizing programs in all these communities, so that local people can take advantage of different learning and fun activities! So we have also been busy restarting and expanding our programs too! Volunteers are always needed to help!
The Guadalajara Reporter covered this story, when the Mayor of Poncitlán announced Anita's new job in November 2021. At that time he met some of the organizations and individuals who are helping in the area. Anita now has three buildings to run (besides the Poco a Poco temporary office building). Some of the buildings have great facilities which we are now using. The Mezcala and San Pedro buildings have well-equipped kitchens, and more Kids Kitchens have started (now six Kids Kitchens!) feeding over 700 children, five days a week!
The COVID outbreak in Mexico most of our programs were cancelled for safety reasons. When factories were shut-down, overnight people were suddenly without work, and without food. Thanks to our amazing donors, we were able to help families by providing food every week to over 1,900 families from mid-March through to mid-August 2020. We provided very basic despenses (food packages), but they were so welcome and appreciated.
Anita and her wonderful team of youth did the distribution work. Our wonderful Poco a Poco FoodShare Director, Patricia Moran, organized the food delivery, hunted down the best prices and ways to get the food delivered to the community (few trucks would drive out there because the roads were so bad). And we all did everything we could to raise money to pay for food. You can read more about this on our Covid food crisis page. Our grateful thanks to everyone who helped us so much during that difficult time.
In September 2020 we were able to restart feeding children, but not in the Poco a Poco office for safety reasons. So the children lined up for food and took it home to eat. In January 2021, we restarted the Kids Kitchen in the San Pedro Poco a Poco office, thanks to even more support from FoodBank Lakeside.
From January through to October 2021, we were feeding over 300 children, five days a week in three locations.
By May 2022, we had expanded even more, and now run six Kids Kitchen locations, feeding 724 children (and 24 volunteers), five days a week! FoodBank Lakeside are now paying for most of the food, and we are so grateful for that. But there are many other costs that we still have to cover including the tortillas (which now cost more than 10,000 pesos a month), and the cost of getting all the food, and then distributing the cooked food to each location. It takes a lot of hard work and people to prepare and cook food for that many children each week.
To keep this program going, we are now giving small stipends to the women and youth who are doing all the food prep and cooking (starting at 5:00 am, five days a week), otherwise we could not continue providing this essential service.
Thanks to a two generous donors, we were able to build shelters in Los Mangoe, La Peña and Mezcala for the Kids Kitchens.
Jim Starkes taught some of the youth how to make benches for the San Pedro original office. They are strong and sturdy. But in the new Kids Kitchens, we need folding tables and chairs so that they can be stored safely in the lock up sheds at these locations.
One expense that has been rapidly increasing is the cost of medicines that we have been paying for. These are life saving medicines for renal patients.
Tacrolimus is one of the drugs that renal transplant patients must have to protect them from rejection of the transplanted kidney. It used to cost 455 pesos a month (around $22 US) per person, but since November 2021, we have been paying more than 1,356 pesos (around $64 US) for 50 tablets. And even at that price, it's difficult to find. The government hospitals used to supply these drugs, but they no longer are able to do so.... it's very worrying because more people will die without this medicine...
Projects: We continue with our ESL classes (now in person); literacy classes for adults and youth, tutoring for high school students who are doing on-line high school. In the municipal community buildings, we started a program twice a week for special needs children; we have expanded the sewing program; re-started the hairdressing program; and created a new group of students learning jewelry making. In December 2021, the Instituto Internacional CAS students gave a workshop for children, focusing on water and its importance to us all.
Despensas: We continue with despensa distribution to renal patient families with the support of FoodBank Lakeside. Poco a Poco pay for drinking water and purchase 70 large garafons of water each week for our Kids Kitchens. We very much appreciate the help we received from The San Diego Downtown Breakfast Rotary Club, towards the cost of the water garafons. We also pay for trucks of clean water to fill the huge 500 gallon water tanks in four locations for hand cleaning and washing dishes.
We are grateful to Violet AC for recently installing modern dental services in the San Pedro Itzicán office and providing dental services free of charge. We hope to find more dentists who will assist. Think about it. Unclean or rotting teeth and unhealthy dental practices, all would affect other organs of the body - including the kidneys... so this is really important. Of course we always need donations of toothbrushes and toothpaste!
We want to find a doctor to come regularly to San Pedro Itzicán to see patients. (Anita does not have the time to drive people to Chapala to see the doctor at the Tepehua Community Center, though we very much appreciate that collaboration.) We will have to pay for these services, but they are vital to the community (San Pedro Itzicán has a population of around 5,900 people...) and no government medical services. People there cannot afford private doctors in Poncitlán or elsewhere.
And after more than a year of negotiations, and much legal support, (thank you Lissa's Legacy for that), we have purchased a small piece of land in San Pedro Itzicán to be the future community center for the town. So gradually we will start clearing the land, backfilling it (and putting in a large water storage tank and septic tank), and then fencing the property. Then we can move the San Pedro Kids Kitchen there and gradually start building the community center that will really belong to the community for their use.
You may ask, why are we helping Anita and this San Pedro area? Watch this video from July 2021 to learn more ...