The "Brigada" Program

The Brigada program is supported by Poco a Poco San Pedro, because we believe that through these young people, change can happen.
Five years ago, the General Director of the Jalisco Firefighters and Civil Protection, Señor J. Trinidad Lopez Rivas, set up a "Brigada" Program (“Brigada Estatal de Proteccion Civil y Bomberos J. Trinidad Lopez Rivas, A.C.”), initially for the town of San Pedro Itzicán.  The area covered by the Brigada includes Mezcala, San Juan Tecomatlán, and the small villages of La Peña, Agua Caliente, La Cuesta, San Sebastián, Chalpicote and La Zapotera.

The local volunteer "brigada" leader/coordinator is Anita Torres Guerrero, and she coordinates all the Brigada projects and teaches the "Brigada" leaders.  The "Brigada" members who are selected as youth leaders, must volunteer to help their community and work and help younger youth.  They learn basic fire-fighting techniques, first aid, rescue, and learn other new skills.
 
Being a "Brigada member" means that they must spend time prior to going to, or after school, or at weekends, performing volunteer work for the Brigada, including visiting and helping in their community. They Brigada members range in age from 9 to 26 years of age, and there are currently around 25 "Brigadista leaders" enrolled in the program from San Pedro Itizcán and the outlying villages. There are many women now involved in the program since 2019.
 
The "brigada" leaders, both young men and women are trained as local, back-up firefighters - because the local fire brigade would take a long time reaching the town in an emergency.  
The Brigada team.jpeg
Sr Trinidad retired in 2018 from the State Brigada, so the training is now done by Anita Torres and the senior Brigadistas. 
 
Being a Brigada member means they help their community, learn leadership skills, take part in community projects, and help at many other local events. They are so proud to wear their uniforms and enjoy the respect and prestige they earn from their volunteer work.

The Brigada leaders train the youth in their areas, and in their neighborhoods. 

 

Women and some men are also involved in the Brigada program.  They take part in events or programs, and help in planting trees and clean up programs (collecting garbage), in their community.

You can read more about them on their Facebook page.  And do check this Youtube video link.

The Brigada leaders enroll other children in their community into the Brigada program, to encourage them to follow in their footsteps. These children must also help in their community and stay in school.  Those that are the most vulnerable to quit school because of extreme poverty or because of difficult family circumstances, are particiularly encouraged to join the program.
How do Poco a Poco and the Brigada work together?
 
Anita Torres, the Brigada leader, asks Poco a Poco leaders for assistance with a project or request that has come from the community, and Poco a Poco volunteers try to assist.
Also Poco a Poco volunteers look for opportunities that might help the Brigada and involve the youth in experiences they otherwise might not have.
The "Brigada" are key representatives of their community and are well respected.  They were amazing workers during Covid, including unloading large bags of food from the trucks that delivered food (paid by donors of Poco a Poco and Lakeside FoodBank).  They sorted the food and then delivered it all to families in need.  They did this 5 days a week, sometimes 6 days... 

The Brigada medical team (one paramedic and one trainee), visited homes where people were sick, and checked them, educated them on Covid, and provided basic medicines to them.  There are few medical services in town, and people do not have money to go to the doctor.

The Brigada visit families in their community to explain the danger of fires in their homes (most use wood fires to cook), explain about the need to drink clean water, how to clean their food to prevent illness, the importance of Covid prevention, etc.  

 
Because of this they also get to know the people in their community and recognize those in most need of assistance. They pass this information on to the Brigada leader, Anita, so that she can assist those families in other ways (with food, when its donated, or providing them with donated clothes or household goods).

The Brigada also assist with community projects, i.e., with the Medical Assistance visit in November 2016 and January 2018, by the Stratford Ontario Rotary Club, Canada, where the brigadistas helped with registration and organization of the over 220 families that registered for assistance.  In 2017, 2018 and 2019, they organized the reforestation project and planted over 3,000 young trees.
 
All these young people are unpaid and they have to continue their studies and keep up their school marks.
 
Being a Brigada member also means they travel outside their small community and see more of the world, and they have more of a chance to understand the opportunities that might exist for them if they keep up their studies.
Paul the chofer.jpeg
These young Brigada members really want to do something with their lives.  
 
Some of these students are facing major renal problems and they are dealing with problems young people should not have to deal with.  But they all want to be educated.
Going to high school, after finishing their Secondaria (middle) school, is difficult for some of these youth.  Apart from the cost, the bus service only services San Pedro Itzicán and not the villages further along the lake, and few families have cars. It's a long walk from these villages to the High School in San Pedro....  so many youth do not go to high school.

If you are interested in helping a young person get an education, no matter what grade, please contact us.  We have many, many students who just cannot afford to go to school.  Read more about the education needs under "Education" at this link.

Poco a Poco volunteers try to organize visits from community members who might have advise, ideas, and who can assist these young people.

If you have ideas on talks or workshops that might be useful, please let us know your ideas.