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, the leader of the Brigada, 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 busy 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 trying to organize and expand our programs to get them up and running again!
You can read the article about Anita's new job in this article in The Guadalajara Reporter, when the Mayor of Poncitlán announced Anita's new position, and he met some of the organizations and individuals who are helping in the area. Anita now has three buildings to run (besides the Brigada office building). Some of the buildings have great facilities which we are already using. The Mezcala building has a well-equipped kitchen, and a new Kids Kitchen program has already started there. On 17 November we had the grand opening of the two Kids Kitchens that now have shade cover and flooring. More on this here!
The COVID outbreak in Mexico changed many of our programs. Most were cancelled for safety reasons. But when factories were shut-down, overnight people were suddenly without work, and without food. Thanks to our amazing donors, we were able to at 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 Brigada, 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 Brigada 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 Brigada 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 December 2021, we had expanded again and now run five Kids Kitchen locations, feeding 528 children, 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 cost around 7,000 pesos a month), and the cost of getting all the ingredients for the meals, and then distribute the cooked food to each location. It takes a lot of work to prepare and cook food for that many children each week. We are now giving small stipends to the women and youth who are doing all the food prep and cooking, otherwise we could not continue providing this essential service.
Thanks to a very generous donor, we were able to build shelters in Los Mangoe and La Peña for the Kids Kitchens.
Our wonderful volunteer Jim, taught some of the youth how to make benches for each location. They are strong and sturdy. So much better than the plastic chairs we had before. When in not use, the tables and benches are stored safely in the new lock up sheds at these two new 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 (around $22 US) per person, but since November 2021, we have been paying mire than $1,356 pesos (around $64 US) for 50 tablets (just over a month's supply for one person). But even at that price, it's difficult to find. The government hospitals used to supply these drugs, but they no longer do so.... it's very worrying because more people will die without this medicine...
On the project front, we continue with our ESL classes (via Zoom); literacy classes for adults and youth, and teaching assistance to high school students who are doing on-line high school. In the municipal community buildings, we have expanded the sewing program, re-started the hairdressing program, and bringing in new volunteers to teach jewelry making, start computer classes, and start many other programs. The Instituto Internacional CAS students have also provided workshops for children, focusing on water and its importance to us all.
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 the renal patients and for our Kids Kitchens. We very much appreciate the recent help we received from The San Diego Downtown Breakfast, to pay for the garafon cost for a year. We also pay for trucks of clean water to fill the huge 500 gallon water tanks in three locations for hand cleaning and washing dishes.
We want to find a doctor and dentist 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 after more than a year of negotiations, and much legal support (thank you Lissa's Legacy for that), we now 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 Kids Kitchen there and gradually start building the community center.
You may ask, why are we helping Anita and this San Pedro area? Watch this video from July 2021 to learn more ...