Profiling Tepehua – September 2020

Profiling Tepehua

By Moonyeen King
President of the Board for Tepehua

tepehua sept2020


Tepehua Centro Comunitario AC is finally taking the plunge and diving headfirst into the potable water business in response to the plight of the villages calling out for help as the people are losing young loved ones to kidney failure. As things stand now the choices caregivers are given is dismal: water, food, or medicine. The pandemic is throwing a long shadow over all.

Poco y Poco organization is struggling with a similar choice at this time: food and potable water this week for the many in San Pedro, or medication for one young man who is dying from kidney failure. The prolonged life of one or the well being of many. No one should be forced to play God.

A water distribution center on the grounds of the Tepehua Community Center will go a long way to easing these problems for the villages. The center has pledges of donations and grants from the private sector and Rotary International to assist in the machinery for the reverse osmosis and cleaning station, and we should be up and running by the end of the year. The purpose of this is to be able to sell water at an affordable price for the villagers, and keep the cost of water low. This is not just for Tepehua barrio. This is especially for villages like San Pedro, close to the end of the line on the north side of the lake, separated from Poncitlan by the mountain ridge.

Having taken a survey as to what the barrio people call a price they can afford for potable water, the Tepehua team are positive we can do this. There will be a “dry” run for a while whilst we figure out how much our overhead will be vis-à-vis how much we can charge to keep the water station sustainable. And it must be sustainable. Giving away free water has to come to an end because it is not solving the problem. It is just a Band-Aid. 

Knowing that the polluted well situation will not be coming to an end any time soon, we have to do this now to stop another generation of dying preventable deaths. It is not just corruption, because money doesn’t trickle down from the top. The wells have to be moved to high terrains to stop water having to traverse over volcanic rocks, on top of which there is human and animal waste, pesticides, and so many other things, especially arsenic that builds up in the body. All of these are undermining the health of the young and babies in their mothers’ wombs. Most of the wells were dug lake level, probably for cost and convenience or lack of large machinery that would be needed for volcanic terrain at the top of the mountains.

Although this looks like a dismal picture, it is not. It portrays a people who are tired of waiting and is forcing change to pick up its pace. There are areas where there is still no indoor/outdoor plumbing—Tepehua is one of them—so “open defecation” is still used. As in Afghanistan, where they are trying to pass a law by 2025 to make “open defecation” illegal, to force the people to build their own toilets. The first toilet that followed the “potty under the bed” was built in 1596 . . . and this is 2020!

You might wonder what’s taking so long. Poverty. This is a generation that knows all the “how to do its,” but they cannot get the tools because of the uneven playing fields around the world. In this author’s lifetime Venice was still using the potty-under-the-bed system, then tossing the contents out the window early morning into the ever sluggish canals that carried tourists to adventures in gondolas. But I digress. How we are guilty of polluting our own nest is another column.

We can all get together to solve the immediate health dangers at Lakeside if just a few of us become the many. We need this water problem solved. It is doable. We have to help feed the people until the pandemic allows them to return to the workforce. We also need to help get medical attention to the masses, especially for the maternal health program, where pre/postnatal health will assure healthy babies and solve the high mortality rate of both mother and child in the barrios. Or for young men like a man called Christian . . . needing medicine his family cannot afford.

Poco y Poco’s contact is or Pat at You can always contact Moonie for information. We can do this.

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