As in past years, our activities over this period can be grouped, broadly speaking, into three aspects:
a) San Antonio de las Huertas:
In response to the high level of demand, this year once again saw the provision of water tanks at discount rates to this Mazahua village. Thanks to our organization and financing, which enables purchasers to pay easy installments tailored to their abilities, to date a total of 163 tanks with a capacity of 1,200 liters, together with ten cisterns with a capacity of 2,800 liters. This enables the respective families to compensate for variations in the supply of drinking water and, above all, to take proper advantage of water runoff in the rainy season.
In relation to oyster mushroom cultivation, before winter began we organized a timely consultation session with Colin from the Finca La Venturosa on how to avoid damage due to cold weather. Training was also offered in administration and accounting matters.
For the general population of the village, we were able to make available two new sources of support. In February we visited the area with a group of Boy Scouts who had previously organized a large collection of clothes, toys, and CDs. With these a great bazaar was set up in the main square, which was enthusiastically received by the local Mazahua people. Although only symbolic prices were charged, in the range of 5-10 pesos, the Scouts raised a good sum of money for the benefit of the local upper secondary school. The exceptional success of this activity motivated those in charge of the Scout group to make a longer term commitment to the village. For example, in November older boys from the group organized a two day workshop on trash collection and recycling for students at this school, while it was an adult Scout leader who delivered the course on accounting for those involved in oyster mushroom cultivation.
Meanwhile, the staff and administration of the “Viva Zapata” travel agency decided to celebrate their 25th anniversary by supporting a social project instead of spending money on a party. Hearing about this plan, which was open to entries, we decided to propose a project to construct a ramp for the steep slope of the secondary school, so that our young friend Omar, who finished primary school last summer, would be able to attend in his wheelchair. Our project was not only accepted as winner, with “Viva Zapata” contributing most of the cost of the ramp (the labor was provided by the parents of the students), but the event was celebrated with an excursion for all the agency’s staff, who also brought a large quantity of paint and set about painting the communal dining room, leaving behind enough to paint the kindergarten and the church fence. Our friends from “Viva Zapata” also expressed their willingness to continue supporting the village of San Antonio in the future.
As in the past, we continue to support a group of women from San Antonio, promoting the sale of t-shirts they embroider with original designs.
There is more news about our two special protégés, Maricela and Omar. Maricela remains on the waiting list for kidney donation, and until this happens, she must continue to attend dialysis in Toluca three times a week. She is studying for an undergraduate degree in psychology with distance learning, and thanks to the excellent care she receives at the Hospital of Nutrition in Mexico City she no longer suffers the frequent and life-threatening health crises that used to affect her.
Omar continues to go to rehabilitation several times a year with the doctor who attended him during his period with the Vicentine nuns, and who kindly offered to treat him free of charge in her private clinic. We cover the cost of the adjustments to his orthopedic supports, which the expert kindly agreed to charge at cost price, and we also pay for his taxis to Mexico City. Having completed primary school, the possibility of Omar continuing with his studies is unfortunately a cause for concern. Although the ramp built at the secondary school enables him to get around there with his wheelchair, reaching the school along dirt roads is very difficult, and his mother is unable to take the boy there, given how tall and heavy he now is. In light of Omar’s enthusiasm for reading and studying, it is very regrettable that his schooling is being truncated as a result of these external problems. It only remains to be hoped that the local council of San Felipe del Progreso fulfill its longstanding promise to pave the road, or to find our own funding to do so.
b) Disabled persons in Tepexpan
As in previous years, we continue to support our friends with disabilities at the Dr. Gustavo Baz Hospital for the Chronically Ill with special mattresses and pillows to prevent bedsores, together with the acquisition and repair of both manual and electric wheelchairs. In addition, this year we covered the cost of special medial studies for one of the patients which had to be carried out elsewhere.
Our intention to arrange an excursion for the patients unfortunately remains unrealized due to the lack of an appropriate vehicle and the refusal of the neighboring psychiatric hospital to lend theirs.
c) Individual cases
* Abel Orlando, who had been cared for by our friends in Chiautla, passed away in June. In the last months of his life we covered costs relating to doctor’s fees, studies, drugs, and nurses.
* The nursing student whom we have been supporting over the past couple of years with her transport costs and part of her school fees sends us regular reports of her progress with her studies, and expresses her enthusiasm for the profession she has chosen to pursue.
* Through friends, who kindly covered the cost, we arranged for a special treatment to be brought from the US for a child with cerebral palsy in Chiautla.
* Sister Irma, the Vicentine nun who until a few years ago was responsible for our friends with disabilities in Tepexpan, currently works in a small Tarahumara village and has asked for our support in light of the extremes of winter. Thanks to a successful fundraising effort among our friends we were able to send her four large packages with warm clothing, especially for children. The courier service offered us a considerable discount on the transport costs. In addition we sent a sum of money to enable the sisters to purchase further winter clothing.
* In October we covered the cost of dental treatment for a Lacandona woman.
* We funded the acquisition of an extra-lightweight wheelchair for a friend of Abel Orlando, who is unable to get around in a regular wheelchair.
* We supported a young paraplegic man recommended by our friends from Chiautla with the acquisition of an electric wheelchair that enables him to get around independently and attend his workplace.
* We also purchased special pillows to prevent bedsores for two people in Chiautla.