Children  Mexico Project #30022

Atzin Dental Program for 1000 Kids Each Year

by Atzin Mexico / Atzin Desarrollo Comunitario AC Vetted since 2017 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit Project of the Month Site Visit Verified
Atzin Dental Program for 1000 Kids Each Year
Atzin Dental Program for 1000 Kids Each Year
Atzin Dental Program for 1000 Kids Each Year
Atzin Dental Program for 1000 Kids Each Year
Atzin Dental Program for 1000 Kids Each Year
Atzin Dental Program for 1000 Kids Each Year
Areceli interviewing a household cook.
Areceli interviewing a household cook.

The reality for the poorest families in Tlamacazapa is that if the adults don't work that day, the family doesn't eat. There is literally next to nothing in the kitchen for tomorrow.

Perhaps you, the reader, will say that I am stretching the truth in order to make a point. I wish that I was. This is a hand-to-mouth existence, and explains why so many children abandon their schooling in order to help their families earn money to buy food, or don't enroll in school to begin with, or never visit a dentist despite tooth decay or absesses because of cost.

This truth came sharply into focus again very recently. In 2017-18 with financing from Rotary Club Lethbridge (Alberta, Canada), Atzin distributed green ecological rocket stoves to 300 families trapped in acute poverty and cooking over an open, three-rock fire.

To better understand the adoption of the stoves, two young village women interviewed the female household head about family size, cooking habits and meal customs. Importantly, they inquired about the food on hand and asked to see it, noting the quantity of every ingredient.

Reviewing the questionaire findings, even the Atzin team was surprised... and dismayed. Half of the families had absolutely no food in the house. Another 25% had only a small amount - a kilo of dried beans, half of a cup of cooking oil or some white rice.

The drastic increase in the price of gasoline - a state-owned business - over the past year has, in turn, driven up the cost of living dramatically throughout the country. Households already struggling to survive are now much more on edge. 

Atzin understands that accessible dental care - free for kids -- is an important service that helps families living in acute poverty to carry on. We know that you, as a supporter of Motlan, our dental health program, are in agreement.

Until next time, Susan

Dear Friends of Tlamacazapa and Atzin, 

Wonder-filled, relief-giving news: Atzin’s Literacy for Adults and Youth: Reading the World project was selected as Project of the Month for January 2019 by GlobalGiving! Hundreds of individual monthly donations are pooled to “make one donation to a different earth-changing idea each month,” providing support across Atzin's programs.

To be honest, we were overcome with emotions, seeing this selection as a true godsend. Let me fill you in on the background. Since about mid-2014, the people of Mexico generally have experienced ever increasing violence and corruption, especially in Guerrero (where we work) as well as in other states. Prices have risen drastically; rural families now suffer deeper poverty and constant tension. 

Volunteers and visitors stopped coming, and each year, it has become harder and harder to find funding, even for our basic programs of education and health. We cut back more and more programming as well as staff, squeezed every peso twice, recycled, repaired and reused everything possible, and sought out alternative ways to bring in money - each time, just barely managing to keep things going in the face of acute need.

At Atzin, our task is to create real opportunities for people trapped in poverty and violence to gain capacities and confidence. The task is incessantly demanding but it can be done, and feels right and good.

To all of you, we offer a heartfelt thank you for your generosity and trust in our work. You will never know just how much this vote of confidence means to us.

With warmest wishes for a peaceful and prosperous 2019, 



Visiting Dr. Oscar, Atzin Dentist Extraordinaire!
Visiting Dr. Oscar, Atzin Dentist Extraordinaire!

December, 2018

Dear Friends of Atzin and Tlamacazapa,

As the new year approaches, I paused to reflect on our start in Tlamacazapa in early 1997, and came across writing that I did shortly before arriving in Mexico. Its content is as true to me now as it was then. Our work in community "is like a tree, deeply rooted in people's realities, grounded to the earth.... Our work flows like a river, finding its way. Sometimes deep and calm; sometimes shallow and turbulent, still at other points, stuck in seemingly stagnant swamps. We climb steep mountains to create connections and change. Following a small path of questioning and discovery, we will circle up the mountain many times, with each turn finding a broader, more enriched view."

For over 20 years, Atzin has been there for the people of Tlamacazapa. The toxicity and acute poverty of the village are complex problems, resulting in acute need for many families. At Atzin, we know that our task is to create real opportunities for people to gain capacities and confidence. The task is incessently demanding, bringing both tension and joy.

When we struggle together to meet challenges, we deepen our moral fortitude, our abilities to care and to be cared for; and our grasp of rooted inter-connectedness. Giving birth to hope, we again commit to a meaningful way of life. It can be done - it feels right and good. 

Help us to climb that mountain and make a genuine difference in people's lives. Support the long haul of development with all its swamps and turbulence. Please donate to the dental care of children and families of Tlamacazapa - be a hero of the heart, right and good.

Best wishes for 2019, and thank you.

As always with appreciation,

Susan Smith

Director, Atzin Mexico


Dear Friends of Atzin

Atzin’s mission – reverse the trap of poverty and violence by supporting people to reach their full potential. We call it: The Cycle of Prosperity. It’s a complex task but one with lasting effects.

With your help and working hand in hand with families living in such difficult circumstances, we invest time and talent so that people gain greater confidence and competence to achieve their goals. Equipping them with the needed tools to give back to their community. And the best part? We've seen success for the past 20 years.

           Our work is personal. And only when personal is it possible to keep up the work over time, especially in demanding circumstances. Social justice then, becomes personal.

Atzin concentrated its work in Tlamacazapa because of its sheer complexity and a growing recognition that this village is a microcosm of our world situation. The important question has always been how to create holistic movement towards a vision of prosperity.

Our programs are tailored to people's needs. From education, business and the environment to nutrition and health (including people's teeth!), with your support, we work hard to create opportunities for families to prosper.

At the end of the day, it is indeed personal.

As always, Susan


Dental challenge - decay of kids
Dental challenge - decay of kids' teeth

Hello Friends of Motlan Dental Health Program,

Just from interacting with many children, we knew early on that dental decay was a serious problem but low on people’s daily priorities and that oral hygiene was not generally an established family habit. When our Tihueliske Education Program for Children was underway in 2007, educators incorporated toothbrushing and handwashing as routine activities for the enrolled children as a first step. Searching for months, we finally found a wonderful Mexican dentist who helped to establish a functional dental clinic in a vacant two-room concrete block building with no running water or drainage. The Motlan Dental Program had begun.

Using on careful observation and research, the Atzin team gradually pieced together a complicated village situation of toxicity. We discovered lead and arsenic in their water and soil; lead in low fire clay cooking pots; many metals such as cadmium, mercury, lead and aluminum in the palm dyes used for weaving. 

We puzzled over the reasons for young children’s teeth being in such bad shape. Experts tend to agree that a person’s mouth is a window to the health of the body. And that even one decayed tooth can problems throughout the body, not just in the mouth. The team dug in to gather information: frequent intake of sugar-laden candy and soda pop was an obvious reason as was poor nutrition during the mother’s pregnancy. During an “aha” moment, we learned that the development of tooth enamel (the outer layer of a tooth) starts at twelve weeks of conception and continues throughout the pregnancy, and importantly, that baby teeth are a good measure of cumulative exposure to toxic metals during fetal development and early infancy.

These multiple factors – the expectant mother’s nutrition during pregnancy, her exposure to toxins during pregnancy, and a young child’s frequent sugar intake – resulted in weak tooth enamel in utero and caused rapid breakdown of the children’s teeth during their early years. Poor oral hygiene then complicated the continuing dental and gum problems into adulthood.

The reasons behind the kids’ rotten teeth were clear. The Motlan Dental Program, organized as a valuable and low-cost service to the community, was a small start in addressing the overall situation of acute poverty and toxicity – a challenging task to say the least.

Until next time, gratefully, Susan

Dental challenge - decay of kids
Dental challenge - decay of kids' teeth 2



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Organization Information

Atzin Mexico / Atzin Desarrollo Comunitario AC

Location: Cuernavaca, Morelos - Mexico
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @N/A
Project Leader:
Susan Smith
Cuernavaca, Mexico
$4,350 raised of $6,000 goal
53 donations
$1,650 to go
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