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 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 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
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


Tihueliske Children Raise their Toothbrushes!
Tihueliske Children Raise their Toothbrushes!

Dear Supportors of Motlan Dental Program and healthy kids, 

The Atzin dentist, Oscar, regularly visits the schools to teach children about taking care of their teeth. He brings along his portable dental chair so that he can do rapid assessments of their mouths and assist each child to feel more comfortable about having a dental exam. Berta and Yolanda are Atzin's dental promotors and they help the children to learn how to care for their teeth. Sometimes they read a story to the class first, like the story below about Tomas from Atzin's book, Kokonemeh The Children of Tlamacazapa, Mexico.

Tomas Visits the Dentist

Tomas has never been to the dentist. He does not want to go. He says, “No, I don’t want to see the dentist! Not me! I don’t want to go!” But when everyone in his Tihueliske class lines up to visit the dentist, Tomas does too. When it is his turn, Tomas slowly climbs up onto the chair and opens his mouth wide.

The dentist checks his teeth, one by one, up and down, left and right. Tomas can hardly swallow, and a strange tube sucks up his spit! Then, the dentist says, “You’re done. Adiós!” and gives him a toothbrush to take home.Tomas jumps down and grins, “Wow, that was easy." Sometimes, it is scary to try something new. But when we do, we discover our courage.

Isn't that just the truth? We gain courage and make progress by taking considered risks and bravely venturing into unfamiliar territory. Work in community development is like that, whether we are talking about a technical service like the startup of a dental program or a complex programmatic response to high illiteracy - we are so often on new ground and doing rapid assessments to get our bearings. And sometimes, to our collective surprise, the result is: wow, that was easy! 

Until next time, Susan

Children with Dentist after Oral Hygiene Class
Children with Dentist after Oral Hygiene Class
Dental Team visit Kinder
Dental Team visit Kinder

Dear Friends of the Motlan Dental Team - Atzin, 

Thank you for your support of the Motlan Dental Program and the team's work in Tlamacazapa, Guerrero - much appreciated and of great importance to those seeking relief and treatment.

Perhaps the program's stats for 2017 are of interest? We are in the midst of compiling the numbers of patients, treatments and education sessions for individuals and in schools. And of course, how much it all cost.

Here is the breakdown for 2017: 929 patients attended in 101 clinical days (meaning that Oscar, our part-time dentist was on duty), with a total of 1,197 treatments provided. That is an average of 9.2 patients per day sitting in the dental chair. In addition, the team visited each primary school (there are three) and kindergarten (there are two) to conduct teaching demos with the children at different grade levels, often with distribution of toothbrushes to take home.

Recall that children under 13 years of age attend the Motlan Dental Program at no cost for basic services while adults receive subsidized dental care. So how much did this program cost to run for the year? US$ 4,400 for direct program expenses of dental materiales, personnel, rent and dentist's transport. Now, imagine how the program could grow if more funds were raised - more stock of toothbrushes, more visits to schools, the start-up of nutrition classes, maybe kitchen gardens for kids to care for (so important for general health and teeth).... the possibilities are endless.

Again, your vote of confidence in Motlan and donation makes all this happen. Thank you again.

Sincerely, Susan. 


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Organization Information

Atzin Mexico / Atzin Desarrollo Comunitario AC

Location: Cuernavaca - Mexico
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @N/A
Project Leader:
Susan Smith
Cuernavaca, Mexico
$3,575 raised of $6,000 goal
46 donations
$2,425 to go
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