By Moonyeen King
President of the Board for Tepehua
The Tepehua Community Center is breaking ground for the barrio´s first Communal Toilet. It will be situated at the back of the Center and its purpose is to stem the flow, literally, of the ‘open defecation’ in the area. The ideal solution of course would be to supply each home with access to the City sewer lines and a tinaco to hold the water. It is a vast undertaking with 50% of the 7,000 villagers living under the poverty line (most of the homes are just lean-to shelters). The health risk of ‘open defecation’ knows no bounds, not just for the people and especially the children through polluted water and human waste, but for the rainy season run-off that finds its way to our drinking water via wells.
As a pilot program, Tepehua is building a small double unit, his/hers and a small place for children in the Mother’s area – a miniature toilet and low sink that fits their world, and ‘how to’ cartoons for education on the walls. Sanitation, like everything else, has to be taught. The communal toilet will be maintained by the Center and, if all goes well in 2021, will be a blue print to sell the need for communal toilets to the private sector and to the local Government. The source of the problem, which is poverty, is going to take a little longer to eliminate.
This is not only a problem in developing countries; in developed countries and large cities, they forget to address the call of nature, and if it calls to you, you have to run into a store to buy something you don’t need then ask if you may use their toilet.
Meanwhile, after the visit by this column, the world of alcohol and drugs has suddenly blossomed into positive activity. The addict we thought had slid back down the rabbit hole forever has emerged again, and this time he brought out other addicts - 5 men and 5 women determined to create their own House of the Rising Sun here in Tepehua. Another chance at life, it is called Grupo Victoria. The Tepehua Center is helping them set up with blankets, food, other staples and basic needs and enthusiastically helping them hold dreams in their hands. They are living in a very small house and are fixing it up as they go. You may wonder how ten adults with a major problem can share one small space where there are no rooms as such, just a stove that indicates a kitchen and...yes...a toilet with a privacy wall. When fighting addiction physical needs as men and women are eliminated by the greater need, so you turn to each other in a different way, like shipwreck survivors, clinging to the hope of a distant shore. You solve one problem at a time, one day at a time, one step at a time! If only one of this group stays above ground, it will have been worth it.
Until this year, a priest ran a small rehabilitation center for men in his home (approx. 20 persons). It was free, but the good Father died this year and it has been taken over by one of the inmates. It is called Grupo Serenidad in Chapala. This organization needs help too. The same basic things especially food, men’s clothes, blankets and medication.
We all have the capability of addiction, but some have more control than others. Find it in your heart not to judge, but to reach out and help because you have only worn your shoes. You have never trod the path of another. Contact Moonie’s e-mail for information about how you can help. Should you wish to visit the establishments, you can be shown the way.
Elliot, the poet, states that Spring is the cruelest time of the year, as sap rises and hopes soar and the sun makes promises it forgets to keep. This Spring will be different, there will be promises kept and hopes fulfilled. Be part of it.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com