By Moonyeen King
Tepehua is home to many drug dealers and users. Many men, like Juan Jesus, fall into the seductive arms of alcohol/drug abuse. It makes them feel good - they own the world, they have no cares...until the sun peeks through the swollen lids, burning eyes and empty stomach. They awake to find they have lost their home and family, and possibly a front tooth, along with all the dreams they had when life was theirs.
For Juan Jesus, reality came when he cared for a friend and watched her die the slow agonizing death of sclerosis of the liver. The doctors from the Tepehua Community Center made house calls to make the patient as comfortable as possible, and to help her let go of a life that had been so unkind. Juan Jesus administered medication until the end, then he checked himself into a rehab center: CRREAD (Centro de Recuperacion y Rehabilitacion para Enfermos de Alcoholismo y Drogadiccion Zono Uno A.C.)
Juan Jesus took the Author through the center, with its high walls, deep in the heart of farm country in Santa Cruz. The facade of the building is forbidding but friendly. The Director, Alberto Hermosillo de Anda, was welcoming. The entire facility is run by inmates, each room housing around six men, with their own small locker. There is a holding room, where those picked up that day are on medication to ‘come down’...their glazed eyes fixed on a door to nowhere.
Land was donated to the organization 25 years ago, by a man who lost his only son to addiction. The building was built by inmates. The men who run the center are all past/present addicts. The youngest inmate a boy of 12 years...the eldest undetermined. It houses up to a hundred at any given time. Some stay as long as a year, some three months, like Juan Jesus. Because he ‘checked himself in’, he has a pass to find work and also to do ‘service’ work at the Tepehua Community Center. He does maintenance at Tepehua and keeps an eye on the older boys every Friday at the Center’s free brunch, where the playground allows them basketball, net ball etc. (Juan also had his front tooth replaced by the Center).
C.R.R.E.A.D. organization needs help. They need clothes for the new pick-ups who have to be showered down and their cloths burnt. They improvise, as inmate Ernesto in the photo above demonstrates with a home-made dumbbell out of a steel rod and cement. They desperately need food...but they use whatever stores like Soriana’s throws out.
It is a place of hope and pain shared, they are not alone or judged, they walk in each other’s shoes and possibly ours. This institution houses quite a few men from Tepehua. They have a chance to change...especially the very young. The Tepehua Community Center will help in every way it can. Should you have men’s clothing/shoes, gym equipment, please contact the author.