Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults

by Atzin Mexico / Atzin Desarrollo Comunitario AC
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Atzin Helps Special Needs of 80 Children & Adults
Promoters seek out families with special needs
Promoters seek out families with special needs

As 2022 nears completion, I again think about our programs over the “long haul” in Tlamacazapa. Let me share a few thoughts to mark the end of the year.

Years ago, a visitor named Pedro and I walked up the steep village paths to the highest water well. Beads of sweat rolled down our necks and we stopped often to catch our breath and to chat with families. On our way back, Pedro commented, “You know so many people here and they know you. You cannot keep this up, you know. You won’t be objective, and besides, you will burn out.” His words gave me pause – I thought that he had it exactly backwards. My relationship with people is personal, not objective. My 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.

As circumstances and the cost of living actually become worse throughout the state, if not the country, and each month brings us more children with special needs, there is no visible “wow” of rapid change here. Brave women, working across Atzin programs, many very young, slowly gain self-confidence as they take on new responsibilities, and take actions, however small. Each person finds her voice in her own time and steadies her feet in her own way when she is ready to do so. And so... we witness the slow rising of a strong resilience that permits a weathering of life’s inevitable storms.

Such is the nature of sustainable, life-affirming advances. They are based on personal decisions to engage and to keep up the work over the long haul - both for us at Atzin and for individual women and men of Tlamacazapa.

As we prepare for 2023, we wish you - our heroes of the heart - all the best. 

Gratefully, Susan

Promoters follow-up with families
Promoters follow-up with families
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Building a classroom at Atzin House
Building a classroom at Atzin House

Dear friends, while some may say that a report with the numbers from 2021 is “old news,” for us here at Atzin, the numbers help to anchor “what was what” during that year, especially in comparison with former years. This report is longer than usual, so please hang in there....

During 2021, we worked to recover and revive programs affected by the pandemic; all in all, it was an unexpectedly time-consuming process - like overcoming inertia - and felt like the story of the “little engine that could.” All in all, the local women working with Atzin did an incredible amount of good work in often difficult circumstances, while building skills in planning, managing, reporting and evaluating programs. An estimated 3,000 beneficiaries accessed and received services (keep in mind that individuals can receive more than one service).

Two challenges across the community arose: children of all ages essentially lost two years of education, as well as the disciplined habit of regularly attending classes; 2) families were economically more stressed with more social problems, and put education of their children on a back burner. Honestly, there is no way to put a positive spin on this: barely able to cope during the pandemic, the people who paid dearly were those living in acute poverty.

2021 PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS. Responding to community needs over the year, Atzin team and promoters did the following:

Early Stimulation Program. Re-started the early stimulation program in early October 2021, with 41 registered children aged 2-5 years of age, organized in two groups, each group meeting twice per week for three hours;

Education for Children. Gave 3.5-hour classes for 200 registered children (6-11 years old) in small groups outside in the open air from January 2 to July 16, and then again from September to December, for a total of 147 days of classes over the nine months. During 2021, attendance by children dropped in our education and literacy program, Tihueliske, and despite repeated home visits by Atzin educators and discussions with parents, it has taken months to regain momentum.

Nutrition. Promoters did 37 cooking demonstrations on Saturdays for people and patients at the Centre, and as well, provided snacks for the children on each day of classes.

Special Needs. Continued service and medication provision to 38 children and 40 adults with special needs throughout the year. Promoters continued to accompany families with appointments in hospitals in Taxco, Cuernavaca or Mexico City, with Atzin covering transportation, consultation fees, paperwork for appointments and costs of lab work.

Safe Motherhood. Provided prenatal care and postpartum follow-up for 61 registered woman, with 47 clinic days plus home visits.

Dental Health. Operated the Motlan Dental program operated once per week for five months (January to end of May), attending to 360 people for a total of 400 treatments.

Condolences. Visited 93 different households to offer condolences for a death in the family. Each family received support in cash ($200 per family) and a 5-piece food package. We kept the death registry updated with a data analysis; and mapped the locations of deaths.

Civil Registrar. Worked with a local woman (an Atzin promoter and educator for years) to be approved for the position of Civil Registrar in the community (responsible for registration of births, deaths and marriages) in May 2021. Atzin supported her nomination with transport, application payments, letters and submissions, provided three month’s compensation, six-month rent in a temporary location, and basic furnishings (on long-term loan) with start-up supplies.

Advocacy. Registered a complaint and petition to the senator of the central region of Guerrero for return of an unfair payment made to the Taxco Hospital by a family on December 1st 2021. On December 16, 2020, the Guerrero Human Rights Commission took up the case and in May 2022, the full repayment was achieved.

Advocacy. Worked with five families to obtain the many documents required to obtain federal economic support as victims of violence, and then transporting the affected women to Chilpancingo for individual interviews and submission of documents. [Financial support for the widows and the nine young children came through in the spring of 2022, a huge relief for them].

So now, halfway through 2022, we take a deep breath, figuring out our next best steps: focus on nutrition, early stimulation and education for children, and mental health for youth.

With your support and best wishes, as always we press on – thank you. 

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Dear Friends of Atzin and Tlamacazapa,

At Atzin we recognize the importance of knowing well the local CONTEXT, its HISTORY and its HUMAN DYNAMICS. This critical assessment guides any strategic planning of programs and activities, yet it actually takes an asute eye and thoughtful consideration to determine what information is important. Let me share a true story entitled "Safety Pin" to illustrate this point (names have been changed for privacy).  

Aiming the pocket flashlight, I crouched low beside Victoria as she knelt to attend Berta who was delivering her first baby on a blanket on the dirt floor. The stick walls leaned in on us as we huddled in the tiny hut, one dim lightbulb hanging from the palm roof, her husband, Pedro, and her mother-in-law, Maria, watching to one side. Grunting, Berta gave one final strong push and Jose was born. Pedro suddenly reached out and slapped Berta hard across her face: “You didn’t protect this pregnancy,” he said angrily and left.

No one responded - we all saw that Jose had a gaping cleft lip and palate. Victoria waited for the placenta, rubbing Jose with a towel and wrapping him in a cloth, all the while speaking softly to him in order to comfort Berta. The delivery completed, we packed up, promising to return the next day.

Victoria explained that by custom, pregnant women fasten a large safety pin under their clothing to protect their baby from the harm of evil spirits. Berta had faithfully done this, Victoria said, but it had not been enough. At six months of age, Jose had his first surgical repair, and as he grew, Atzin covered the costs of additional surgeries and some language therapy – none of it helped to bring harmony to the family. During each visit, Berta complained that her jealous mother-in-law was nasty to the point of being cruel, and rather than support Berta, Pedro defended his mother. Berta’s relationship with Maria gradually became torturous.

Now caring for four children, Berta came home early from shopping and surprised Pedro in bed with a young teenager. Escaping a scene, he jumped up and ran. Through tears, Berta told me what she had kept hidden for years: her father-in-law had abandoned Maria for another woman when Pedro was an infant; Maria had started having sex with Pedro when he was 12 years old until he started living with Berta at 22. This had messed him up.

Berta was miserable, and wanted to leave Pedro but with four children, had nowhere to go. She actually only had two choices – stay or move forward bravely to something different. Not willing to risk losing her house on that tiny patch of land - her safety pin of protection - Berta stayed.

___________________-

Reflection: Knowing something of Pedro’s history gave me a new perspective on the family dynamic. Like the pocket flashlight that illuminated just a portion of the dark hut at a time, a person’s life can be revealed to be so terribly multilayered, so terribly tangled, and so terribly sad. I thought about the consequences of intergenerational trauma, and how a disturbing act and its grim aftermath can become the troubling behaviours that, with cancerous tenacles, penetrate into each succeeding generation.

The importance of knowing context, history and dynamics become paramount for successful development.

Susan

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Installation satellite antenna on Atzin roof 2022
Installation satellite antenna on Atzin roof 2022

DONE! MUCH NEEDED CHANGES TO ATZIN INFRASTRUCTURE

As readers will appreciate, good programs can only run with certain supports in place, like the right personnel but also, the right physical structures. For those with an eye to construction and installations, here is run-down on Atzin's rehabilitation and general improvements on our facilities carried out over the past three months.

Rehabilitation of the Atzin Centre in Tlamacazapa

The rehab started with a massive de-cluttering of accumulated program-related materials (what a difference!), removal of old paint on concrete floors (a tedious scraping effort undertaken by many) followed by the painting of walls and floors by the promoters and team. Followed by,

  • Installation of a satellite dish on the centre’s roof after much deliberation of how to best make internet happen. Now for grounding of connections, office equipment setup, and security measures. This will be a communication breakthrough.
  • Replacement of the leaking vinyl roof (the famous “lona”) over the terrace (which, depending on the day, serves as a classroom, a meeting space, an outdoor kitchen, and a prenatal waiting area). The original roof lasted 15 years, and its metal frame remains sturdy. The new roof lets in more light, and looks super
  • Installation of a new 18’ fridge in the kitchen. The old one was on its last legs, having been hauled to Cuernavaca twice for repairs.

Still pending: annual cleaning of rainwater catchment cistern and dry toilet vaults; funding search for replacement of the old and well-used but deteriorating kitchen counter with cupboards (yes, still the same one for those recall pouring water down the sink, overflowing the bucket underneath it); and the painting of kitchen floor. Someone stole (siphoned) all of our cistern water in mid-December – a more than annoying blow; everyone went into ultra-conservation mode, relying on rainwater stored in three additional large tanks to get us through the dry season – a “pipa” of water will be purchased right after Easter, trucked in from Taxco.

Atzin House/ Office in Cuernavaca

  • Construction of a traditional “palapa” with a rectangular palm roof supported by wood posts in the yard. The palapa has already served as a classroom for a total of six days of training; a Board meeting room for two days; and a quiet place for conversation and relaxation. We still need more working space – the House is crowded.
  • Startup of ecological rocket stove prototypes made of rebar and concrete. David's latest model = 7 minutes to boiling 1 liter of water. This all in preparation for a new pilot project focusing on hosehold kitchen gardens, rocket stoves and rainwater catchment for 20 families.
  • Construction of a (wonderful) door to close-off an open office space – the one location in the House with peace and quiet for writing and conversations. Installation of sturdy clotheslines on the roof of Atzin House.

As always, a fierce thank you to the volunteers, donors and all those who send good thoughts our way as we carry on with the little-by-little construction of a better future.

Sincerely, Susan

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Consult by special needs
Consult by special needs

To capture the work completed by the Atzin team over the last months is actually a task in itself – the days and weeks run together, creating a moving mosaic of activity and emotions. At the same time, re-gaining momentum in our programming has consumed much time and energy – considerably more than anticipated, and comparable to overcoming a sort of inertia, resulting from an all-consuming covid campaign.

Activities that functioned easily in 2019 now require a considerable input of attention to start up again. In part because of turnover of promoters with new people who all need training, but more so, the need to refresh everyone’s memory about the details that actually make a program run. Each major activity needs to be thought through (the specifics matter), sequenced (the order matters) and then, paced (so does the speed of implementation).

Diving into a new year with optimism and a fighting spirit, here are recent highlights,  

  • Covid illness continues but deaths are dropping in number since October – that is good news. Promoters persist in visiting families, offering support and food, and recording family reports of symptoms. This promotes considerable goodwill with families and gives an accurate compilation of all village deaths from all causes.
  • The Early Stimulation program for pre-school children re-started as a priority in September 2021 and with a total of 40 children attending in two groups in the afternoons, is doing well. The Nutrition program offers the children a snack of almond/soya milk with an amaranth bar.
  • Due to repeated parent demand, the Atzin team is in the throes of re-opening Tihueliske Education for Children this week with an age modification: children aged 6-9 years, whether registered in primary school or not, can attend four mornings per week. Schools remain closed except for one morning per week to drop off and pick up homework. With very limited literacy support at home and no access to internet, most children have not advanced in their reading and writing skills; older children have started working and are not likely to return to a classroom.
  • Active registration on the Special Needs program is now updated with services provided for 64 children and adults. Promoters visit individuals at home, distribute medications and vitamin supplements, and once again, accompany patients to medical appointments as possible to obtain in Cuernavaca and Mexico City.
  • Many more pregnant women now attend the traditional care offered each Saturday by our midwife, Victoria, with a promoter assisting.
  • A new external accountant for Atzin Mexico is on board; a December fundraising appeal using multiple venues was our most successful to date; legal papers for Atzin and Yotlakat non Siwatl have been renewed. All provide necessary structure to the organization.   

Thank you as always for your encouragement and financial support. As a group, we are doing our best against tough odds, re-gaining momentum in all programs

Sincerely, Susan

PS. Produced during the covid19 pandemic on a shoestring budget, Returning to Strength captures our approach to community development and social change - well worth watching for our supporters. Click here to view https://vimeo.com/503278349

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Organization Information

Atzin Mexico / Atzin Desarrollo Comunitario AC

Location: Cuernavaca, Morelos - Mexico
Website:
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Twitter: @N/A
Project Leader:
Susan Smith
Cuernavaca, Morelos Mexico
$72,539 raised of $95,000 goal
 
661 donations
$22,461 to go
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