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SAN PEDRO ITZICAN, MEZCALA and the surrounding villages

Renal failure and malnutrion are widespread in this community

Over the years, many people have been diagnosed and many died from renal (kidney) disease.  Some are just young children as well as young adults (most seem to die around 28-34 years of age). 

Because of the pandemic, it was difficult to determine how many died of renal failure or Covid.  But when renal patients got Covid, it was almost impossible for them to recover.  We bought oxygenators, respiratory meds, emergency services and provided preventative services.

For many years the medical profession has been aware of the medical problems in San Pablo Itizcán, and the surrounding villages.

But the cause is not so simple.  The studies show that it's probably a combination of many factors, including genetics, malnutrition, chronic dehydration, pesticide contamination, and probably unclean drinking water.  More information about the water issues are covered on this link.

The renal failure problem has begun to receive more media coverage, which will help changes to be made, but there is no "quick fix".  Expensive studies have been carried out but no solutions or changes appear to have been made.

Other than clean drinking water, air pollution (thought to be caused by the local method of cooking with wood inside the homes), is another problem.  Poor families will burn anything they have available, which might include plastics and wet wood.  You can imagine the health affects of this...


There are also high traces of pesticides in the water and on local foliage. The local farmers can't afford expensive pesticides so these may be coming from elsewhere. 

Garbage is another problem.  Apart from the main roads in Mezcala, La Peña and San Pedro, other parts of the towns and other villages, do not get garbage pick up.  So everything eventually gets washed down to the lake, where the children are also collecting water to boil up for drinking water, and bathing in the lake, as few homes have running water.

Poverty causes health problems too - malnutrition in particular.   Lack of the right foods can be a problem for young children and can cause kidney problems.   Which is one of the reasons we started the Kids' Kitchens.










The figures above were taken in 2016 from test results on 300 local high school students.

Just from reading the statistics above, you can see that diet has a huge impact on health.  That is why we started the Children's Community Kitchen program.
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Sadly, this little 8 month old boy, lost his mother to renal failure in September 2021, just a few months after she had been diagnosed and had started home dialysis.
In 2017, Doctor Felipe Lozano Kasten of the University of Guadalajara Center of Health Sciences did a study on the village of Agua Caliente.  It was due to be completed in September 2017 but we have not seen the final results.  Here is a YouTube excerpt:
The initial results of the study revealed that of the 300 preschool, primary and secondary students of Agua Caliente, 170 showed signs of renal damage.  This link explains some of the study results in 2017.
Of the 950 residents in the village of Agua Caliente, over 544 people were tested.  At that stage, 270 already had various stages of kidney failure. 77 were in stage 3, and 17 children were needing immediate help as they were at stage 5 of renal failure and needing dialysis immediately.  But these families cannot afford the expensive dialysis...
Many people go untreated for their medical conditions.  Renal problems are often not recognized until it's too late.  (Many people couldn't afford to pay for the drugs anyway and the nearest pharmacy is in Mezcala.)  The Poco a Poco runs two medical offices (one in San Pedro and the other in Mezcala) with a small stock of medical supplies that can be dispensed as needed in emergency, but they are only able to cope with minor medical issues.
2018 was a sad year due to children dying from kidney related issues.  This is a recent message from Anita to the Poco a Poco volunteers, explaining how difficult she is finding it:  

"On the 1st of this month (April 2018) another young man died from kidney disease. I have seen 10 young people between the ages of 8 and 25 die recently.  Every time a young person dies, I feel powerless.  Perhaps we have been abandoned?   No one seems to know what is going on here, with many studies being done, the government invests millions in studies, but nothing seems to be done to change things.  Here we live in a world full of garbage, with houses full of smoke, children playing and living among pig and dog feces.  And we are hungry.  We cannot even begin to deal with that ... because here we eat once or twice a day, if we eat at all. These are towns with people without jobs, abandoned children who ask for money, so that their only food is something fried or junk food.    


Many from the ex-pat community have supported these people, but in a disorganized way.  They give to simply give, without educating the townspeople.  You, along with me, are trying to educate people, trying to create a change.  I think what we are doing is the best solution .....


This situation is worrying and sad, since 3 of those 10 that died recently, were Brigadistas.  Now in Agua Caliente, a 7-year-old girl needs dialysis and at this tender age is stricken with kidney disease.  I feel unable to cope!  Sorry, but I write to you because it is painful to see how we are dying and nothing is changing.  I feel that you have helped more than any others, and above all you have sustained me when I already feel that I cannot go on.  But I thank you with all my heart, for listening to me."


Anita Torres Guerrero

Leader of The Brigadistas

Communities of Mezcala and San Pedro Itzican

Over the years we have heard promises of a local hospital being built, but no actual progress.  Now (June 2021) Red Cross Chapala are fundraising to open a dialysis clinic for renal patients.  That might be an alternative solution for people in the San Pedro area to travel to Chapala, rather than Guadalajara, for their dialysis treatments. 
This is a sign posted outside the church in San Pedro in 2016:  to tell people not to drink the hot water (which is the local water source) and to avoid eating certain types of fish.
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