By Moonyeen King
President of the Board for Tepehua
Jose Antonio Jimenez Aguilar: a Success Story
Raised in hard times, he was the eldest of six children. Life had him out of school and picking tomatoes at the age of twelve. In the brutal heat of summers in the field, he dreamed of being an Electrical Engineer. His parents, Jose and Maria Luisa, born of simple stock, were good people but the family was overwhelmed by poverty in the little town of El Chante. Against all odds, he went back to school after six years, and paid to own his dream. He married his childhood sweetheart, Natalia, who gave him a son now aged 13.
Many others achieve their dreams, but not many want to share their good fortune with those less fortunate. Antonio wanted to give back to society and honor his mother and her life struggle raising six children. Antonio became President of a little-known organization called H.O.W. AC (Health Outreach for Women).
Benefactors in the state, who wished to remain anonymous, acquired a van and soon Antonio was on the road with two nurses taking maternal health care to isolated villages around the lake. In affiliation with the Tepehua Community Center´s free clinic and Sylvia Flores of CEDEJO women’s clinic, postnatal and prenatal care, family planning and cancer checks were taken to those areas where maternal health, controlled by poverty, has never been available.
The gentlemen north of the border are leaving huge footprints in the sand as they quietly help change attitudes about women’s health, an awareness that change is needed to lower the high mortality rate of women and their infants. Poor women cannot get to the only free hospitals available in Guadalajara as bus fare and test costs are prohibitive. H.O.W. also supports the maintenance of the Maternal Mobile Unit, paying for diesel fuel, insurance and the two nurses’ compensation for their work each time they make a trip (about four times a week). They go to a different village each time. They are quiet heroes, like Antonio, who wish to give back to women in need.
The Mobile Unit will also work closely with the almost-finished Maternal Health Center in Tepehua. It will bring in the women from isolated areas for sonogram checks, cancer and prenatal and postnatal care. The Tepehua laboratory will screen all the pap smears and blood tests, cutting the costs to almost nothing and eliminating the arduous trip to Guadalajara for the women. At the moment, the cost of a sonogram is between $450 and $650 pesos in the “free” hospitals. This makes the whole trip prohibitive.
This joint effort of non-profit organizations has been a long time coming, but working together will double the benefit to the people in need, and will bring support to the other barrios that have never had it before. The author salutes the young of Mexico, like Antonio, like the volunteer interns in the Tepehua medical and dental clinics, still alive with idealistic dreams of a better world. And it will be. Unless the village women are taken care of, society loses 50% of the work force, has a bigger pocket of poverty and a shrinking middle class. In such an unbalanced society the economy of the village will never be stable. The educated youth now emerging in ever growing numbers in every barrio will not only see change, they will be the authors of change. This world is already a better place.