Under the shadow of benevolent arms of the luxurious Church under construction, the little town of Tepehua struggles to its feet.
Its once dangerous streets are less so, especially during the bustling day. Police cars cruise the areas that once they ignored.
A woman or girl less likely to be attacked during the day. Night time has its dark side still, with drugs and gang warfare.
The Tepehua Center has brought a barrio people out in the open to face challenges of poverty and sub-standard living together. They are respecting their neighbors and the rights of their neighbors more readily, their hope in the future is shared.
With the promise of more children being enrolled into the school system next semester, the future of the children looks bright.
Most of the land of Tepehua is still Ejidal (Indian) land and few people have title. Investors shy away from the land because of this, in spite of the beautiful views. The Government can declare certain parts no longer Indian land, or you can apply for privatization, that could take years. You can apply through a process called Procede.
Ejidal land was established in 1917, an outcome of the revolution. Hundreds of millions of acres from Spanish Land grants, were expropriated by the Government and classified as Ejidal property and under State ownership. Peasants have the right to use and the right to build and it is passed down from Father to Son, and cannot be sold.
The future of Tepehua relies on people investing, and creating small industry, taking progress to the people instead of encouraging migration from the area.
The Tepehua Centro Comunitario’s vision of creating a trade school, small shops/restaurants, encouraging tourism in what could be one of the loveliest views of the area.
Where the Church is on the pinnacle of Tepehua, with its beautiful viewing platform, and a small mural of the history of Tepehua, sports court and jogging trail, built by the municipality of Chapala for the Church. The gigantic statue of Jesus, and the biggest Church Bell the Author has ever seen, are worth a visit. Both Church and mural are unfinished. The last panel for the mural is being saved for when the church is completed, and the Artist can fill in the last part of the story.
Other murals adorn the buildings as the viewer slowly makes his way down from the pinnacle, to the streets below. Poverty is apparent, but so is Hope and Trust in a future which was once very bleak.
Visitors are encouraged to visit the Tepehua Center, especially on Friday morning, where happiness is a hot meal, and the laughter of children a promise of things to come.
The reader can pick up information about the center, at the Tepehua Consignment Shop, next door to Magana’s restaurant in San Antonio. Volunteers are welcome.