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 Children  Mexico Project #30022

Atzin Dental Program for 1000 Kids Each Year

by Atzin Mexico / Atzin Desarrollo Comunitario AC
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
Lovely shot of Lucy weaving with one son watching
Lovely shot of Lucy weaving with one son watching

Dear Friends of Atzin's Dental Program,

We've painsakingly added up the numbers, checking them twice. Here are the stats for 2018 for the smallest dental clinic ever! Yet this tiny space is so functional, impressively practical, with dentist Dr. Oscar and the two dental promoters providing such a needed service. You may recall that children under 14 years of age and the elderly receive checkups and all basic services for free, and the prices for youth and adults are on a cost-recovery basis, with a checkup costing 20 pesos (C$1.40).  While this past year for different reasons, we had to cut back on the total number of clinic days, we are pleased to report that parents are increasingly recognizing the value in bringing their children to see Dr. Oscar in Atzin's Centre in Tlamacazapa. 

Motlan dental and oral health
This program provides family education on oral hygiene and nutrition, and free basic dental services for the elderly and children under the age of thirteen. Discounts on crowns and dental protheses are available for adults. Dental consultation are organized every six months for children in the Tihueliske Education program.

2018: Dr. Oscar worked 68 days in the dental clinic with an average of 12.6 patients per day (counted as people in the dental chair, attended by the dentist); 862 individuals received a total of 912 treatments. Promoters gave oral hygiene education to patients and students, as well as a rapid assessments of dental health. It is notable that the number of women and girls patients was double that of men and boys. Our interpretation is that adult men travel much more outside the village as street vendors.

Number of clinical days                 68
Total of patients                            862
Breakdown by gender                   582 fem; 280 masc.
Average of patients per day          12.6
Number of treatments given          912

A complete report on all Atzin programs - by the numbers - is available on the Atzin website. To have a look, go to As always, we are grateful for your ongoing support - only with that support can we make everything happen!




Good dental care helps, even in a small clinic
Good dental care helps, even in a small clinic

In October, a long line of people waited patiently to be attended in our clinic. Berta, a young mother of four children hesitantly entered. Under her black shawl, she cradled her six-month-old baby, Jose. Berta anxiously repeated that Jose had diarrhea constantly and had not gained any weight since his birth. She explained that her husband gathered firewood to sell and that there was no money to take Jose to a specialist as they had been instructed to do on two visits to the village health centre.

I peeked under the shawl: Jose was a shock, barely there, skin and bone. His big eyes locked onto mine; his piercing gaze held me captive. Tears welled up.I breathed deeply, wiped my cheeks and thought, “This child will not die; let’s get started.”

In a matter of minutes, working as a team with Berta, we began: examine and treat Jose’s obvious stomach infection with a simple remedy; get a baseline weight and give Jose vitamins; mother the mother, praising her for breastfeeding; and lower the stress in her household with a food package of rice and beans to be prepared at home.

On their next visit a few days later, his stomach infection gone, Berta offered Jose rice cereal – he wolfed it down in a matter of seconds and wanted more. Over the next weeks, she added mashed banana, avocado, cooked carrots and some pureed chicken. After three months Jose weighed 5.4 kg and could sit up by himself. The crisis was over.

Sometimes, the answer to an immediate serious problem is relatively straightforward. Jose lived because his mother persisted in her search for help and never gave up; because he had a strong will to survive; and because the Atzin team responded quickly with caring attention and effective actions.

The truth is, in the midst of so much misery, even a small success is uplifting. Our collective spirit is nourished, and our commitment to loving actions is renewed, strengthening our sense of grace and of hope. This is the gradual building of resilience and the creation of opportunity - the real work of development.

Your support makes that happen. 

Until next time, Susan


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



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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
$5,550 raised of $10,000 goal
64 donations
$4,450 to go
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