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History of Poco a Poco and the areas we help
Poco a Poco San Pedro started working in early 2017 in the San Pedro Itzicán area and the surrounding villages. We listened to Anita Torres, and tried to provide programs or help from other organizations to meet the needs she had identified. We very much support and encourage other organizations to help in the area.
Poco a Poco works on creating small, start up projects to enable local people to earn a living, and encourage and enable children to attend school.
We believe that a "A hand up - not a hand out" approach is the best way to help. This often involves providing training to people who have asked for help and have an interest in learning.
We encourage youth to attend school, to continue into high school, and beyond. One young lady has been trained as a Paramedic and is now attending a full-time nursing program in University.
The local people, especially the women, want to create local work and activities so they can earn money, and stay at home to look after their children. And they want their pride back...
The town of San Pedro Itzicán is located in the Municipality of Poncitlán, in the State of Jalisco, Mexico, on the edge of Lake Chapala.
San Pedro Itzicán is located on steep hills (the centre of the town is located at 1,500 metres), with a steep hill down to the lakeshore. The lakeshore is deep at that point, unlike other parts of Lake Chapala. Farming is limited because of the hills and rocky landscape.
The scenery is stunning in this area as it is unspoiled and rugged - but there is garbage everywhere because of limited garbage collection. Some roads are barely usable and its best to have a SUV or something similar car to get around. Few people in the town have cars at all and rely on buses if they have the money for them.
For many years, Poco a Poco volunteers under the Mexican charity - Brigada Estatal de Proteccion Civil y Bomberos J. Trinidad Lopez Rivas, A.C. But that organization closed in 2022 due to the founder having health issues.
The communities around the towns of San Pedro Itzicán and Mezcala really need help and support. These are indigenous communities, the people are extremely poor, and lack education and services. They also face serious health issues (especially kidney disease), malnutrition, few work opportunities, and many social issues, making it hard for people in these communities to survive. Many of the homes are headed by women and do not have the support of a spouse for income.
Poco a Poco San Pedro try to create new initiatives and opportunities for the community, and encourage help from other organizations, all through the guidance of Anita Torres. Anita is a Mexican national, not even originally from the area, but she decided to live in San Pedro, and help the community. She is a social worker by profession, and has become the person people go to for help.
The population of the town of San Pedro Itzicán (as at 2023) is around 7,300 people. (In 2005 there was a population of 4,246.) But including the other towns and small local villages, the population of the area is around 20,000. The towns and villages include: Mezcala, La Peña, Agua Caliente, La Cuesta de Mezcala, El Chalpicote, La Zapotera, San Sebastián, San Juan Tecomatlán, Tlachichilco, Ojo de Agua and Santa Cruz el Grande.
If you visit the area, you are struck by just how many children are around - on their own. The population has increased dramatically in the past 18 years. Sadly more than 300 of those children have been "abandoned". There is no family member to register them for school, so they do not attend school, and many do not have a stable home to live in.
In the 2005 Census it was reported that the average number of years that the population attended school in San Pedro, was only 4 years. In that Census they identified that nearly 12% of the population was illiterate - more women than men. But for the Poncitlan Municipality, 2021 figures identify 21% are illiterate and that 48% have not completed primary school.
With those kind of numbers, you can understand why access to decent paying work is very limited, and why people turn to alcohol and drugs. If they want to work, they have to go outside the community, as there are few prospects locally. Many of the men go to the US in search of work and often leave families behind.
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