By Moonyeen King
Tepehua Centro Comunitario’s vision is to educate and create opportunity for people to get OFF the mountain to find that opportunity.
The location of Tepehua is high above the area of Chapala. Its view and location is a million dollar one. (Disregard the poverty for one moment.) A bus route makes it accessible, with roads slowly improving. Roads go in from the South and East side, and a road going north attaches to the Guadalajara Highway.
If you visit the large church that can be seen from Chapala in all directions, with Jesus on the top, you will find a beautiful building, with a viewing platform that has a stunning view of Chapala, mountains and lake. There is a picnic area and a sports court, all built in the last year around the church. They are still building, and one must assume that the whole pinnacle belongs to the church.
Tepehua Community Center A.C. is a very active Center, providing a hot meal every week feeding over 200 women and children, affording people help with education, encouraging social gatherings which strengthens the community, as they tend to act in groups now instead of isolation, establishing small industry for women, counseling for parenting and abuse of all types, especially drug abuse, teaching independence and self-esteem.
The free Clinic and Dentistry has an abundance of patients...where every day ailments are treated and family planning is practiced. Dental emergencies are treated. Both these programs need to be expanded into a student training school along with the ability to take medical assistance to other barrios to teach and train other women. A small ambulance bus is needed. Volunteer Doctors and Nurses are ready to take to the road--all Mexican professionals.
Habitat Tepehua is aimed at helping people live with hygiene and dignity, with the idea of pulling men of the village together to do small home repair, electric work and plumbing, to teach men simple home construction. A vocational school is needed to give men, women and children tools to build a better life, a better barrio, create jobs right there in Tepehua.
The simple Bazaar at the Tepehua Center is actually a beacon of light; it not only collects and delivers prison uniforms for the women’s prison in Chapala, but five barrios between Chapala and Mescala are supplied with clothing for their poor.
If you look at this history, and now look forward, why not build a vocational school, and then a plaza, which will bring more people together. Create a plaza and you will see a market place spring up, where people can buy, sell and barter. In other words, Tepehua could be a bustling little tourist spot--bringing jobs and commerce to Tepehua. Instead of trying to get people off the mountain...bring growth to where they live. THEY ARE ALREADY HALF WAY THERE.
Antonio Encisco heads a team to clean up the graffiti in Ajijic, and they are doing the same in Tepehua, starting with lectures for the women. Under the lead of Brenda Vasquez, a census will be taken by a group of young Mexicans going door to door to ask the barrio people what they would like to see changed. There is a surge of Hope and Energy going through Tepehua. The Center has come a long way through the fog of insecurity, illiteracy and suspicion. Hope is taking root through Mexicans and ex-pats working together, and therein lays its strength. Much has happened in the barrio in three years, and that dream rising from the dirt can be a reality, because Tepehua Barrio will make it happen themselves, and sustain it.
Should you wish to be part of this adventure, contact Moonie.