Please help San Pedro Itzicán and the local villages
A frequent question we get is - What does Poco a Poco do?
There is no short answer I'm afraid! We are basically one of the go-between organizations that work with Anita Torres to help the communities in the areas of San Pedro Itzicán and Mezcala in the Municipality of Poncitlán.
These areas have been officially identified as being communities with the highest instances of renal disease with unknown cause (kidney disease).
The people face hunger, poverty, malnutrition, lack of education and work skills.
These indigenous areas lack so much and are facing many challenges.
We are also involved with the Kids' Kitchens, which feed over 700 children, five days a week! (These kitchens are funded by FoodBank Lakeside - for which we are most grateful - but we also pay for parts of this program and rely on Anita and her team to organize them all.)
Some of what we do, and how we do it, can be read on this link to see the History of Poco a Poco...
Do watch these YouTube videos just released by students architects from the Tecnológico de Monterrey Campus Guadalajara - in March 2023, after they visited San Pedro.
Anita Torres Guererro, who we have been working with since 2017, is a dedicated volunteer. She is a committed supporter of the community, and she has become a person the community go to for help and support.
From October 2021 until March 2023, Anita was the Director of the Centros de Desarrollos Comunitarios (CDC) del H. Ayuntamiento Constitucional de Poncitlán (after previously working for Human Rights Jalisco). She opened up the Mezcala and San Pedro CDC buildings, which had been closed for a long time; she organized programs there and we also moved our programs there. The Centers became important centers for many community activities, support and help.
Of course we seek financial support to run our programs, especially providing medicines and treatments for renal patients; supporting the Kids' Kitchens by using our truck to pick up and deliver supplies; paying stipends to some of the helpers; and providing 100 water garafons a week for the Kids' Kitchens.
(Poco a Poco really is just one of the supporters of the incredible work of Anita Torres Guererro - now many other individuals and organizations support what she is doing.)
Poco a Poco is currently trying to raise money to create a safe and tiny home for Anita on some land she purchased in San Pedro Itzicán. Click here to go to the GoFundMe page we have created for this, to learn more and perhaps support this initiative. (If you prefer to use another way of donating, just email us so that we can direct your donation accordingly.) Thank you so much!
Besides the two Government buildings, Anita also ran the Poco a Poco office building where one of the Kids' Kitchens was located with a modest kitchen and storage areas.
In April 2023 we had to move out of the Brigada office building and move the Kids' Kitchen which serves around 100 children each day, because the owners of the property want it back, and are cutting the roof, (which is made of asbestos - and could cause dangerous contamination).
The Community Center that we are building is not funded or ready, so in April 2023 we temporarily moved this Kids' Kitchen to Anita's property until our Community Center is built. But her property needs security, electricity, a water tinaca, pumps, septic and other essential items, while Anita will also live there in a small area.
During the COVID outbreak in Mexico, our programs were cancelled. When factories were shut-down, overnight people were without work or 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 to mid-August 2020. We provided basic despenses (food packages) - but they were so welcome and appreciated.
Anita and her wonderful team of youth did the distribution work. The Kids' Kitchen 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.
(Volunteers are always needed to help us! Even better if you speak some Spanish!)
In September 2020 we restarted feeding the children, and they 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 more support from FoodBank Lakeside. From January through to October 2021, we were feeding over 300 children, five days a week in three locations.
In May 2022, we expanded again, and since then, run six Kids' Kitchen locations, feeding over 700 children (and 24 volunteers), five days a week! FoodBank Lakeside pay towards the cost of the food, and we are very grateful for that. But there are many other costs that we still have to pay for, including buying lots of tortillas (which cost more than 12,000 pesos a month) and using the truck to purchase all the food. Poco a Poco also pay for drinking water and purchase 100 large garafons of water each week for our Kids' Kitchens. Clean water is needed so that hands are washed before food preparation, by the children - before and after eating, as well as providing healthy water-based drinks to the children. The Poco a Poco truck is also used for distributing the raw ingredients or cooked food to each location. It takes a lot of hard work to prepare and cook food for that many children each week. It's also tough on the truck (couldn't do without it Ravi!), especially since our older truck has now "retired" from service and will be sold for parts. So again we are looking for a second truck.
To keep these Kids' Kitchen programs functioning, we pay for 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.
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 need 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...
It's very sad.
Projects: We continue with our ESL classes in Mezcala and San Pedro; literacy classes for adults and youth, and tutoring for high school students who are doing on-line high school. We have an amazing program for children with different needs - twice a week in Mezcala and twice a week in San Pedro; the sewing program is now being run by the govenment; we created a very popular hairdressing program; and are teaching a new group of students jewelry making.
Despensas: We continue with despensa distribution to renal patient families with the support of FoodBank Lakeside.
We are grateful to Violet Unidad Médico Dental A.C and to the Lila K Foundation, for providing dental services in the San Pedro Itzicán and Mezcala offices - free of charge. We hope to find more dentists who will assist.
The Lila K Foundation also provided dental education in 2022. Think about it. Unclean or rotting teeth and unhealthy dental practices, all affect other organs of the body - including the kidneys... so this is really important. Of course we always need donations of toothbrushes and toothpaste! Many families, if they have toothbrushes, have to share them...
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 7,000 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 purchased a small piece of land in San Pedro Itzicán to be the future community center for the town.
We are now in the early planning of clearing the land, backfilling it (and putting in a large water storage tank and septic tank), and then fencing the property. We are building two storage areas on the property so that the items moved out of the old office can be stored there. The Community Center land is opposite Anita's new home, so we can do both jobs at once.
You may ask - why are we helping Anita and this San Pedro area? Watch this video from July 2021 to understand and learn more ...