Profiling Tepehua – June 2021

Profiling Tepehua

By Moonyeen King

President of the Board for Tepehua

Tepehua 1


Traditionally in Mexico, community centers revolved around and from the Church.

Modern age community centers, still comparatively new in Mexico, are springing up everywhere along with social services in local government.   Community centers create social bonds and an inclusive community built on volunteerism and civic pride.  Participation creates ownership, and becomes a place where all needs of the flesh are met along with the frailties, both of equal importance.

They are called multi-purpose community centers (MPC), where everything the family unit needs is addressed. Hunger, health including dental, education, addiction, abuse, sanitation, nutrition, potable water and the list goes on. The soul must be taken care of in the home or in the church. A good community center is non-denominational, non-political, non-judgemental, a totally humanitarian organization and experience. The Tepehua Community Center is built upon volunteerism and fund-raising, with no assistance from government bodies, and is owned by the people. All programs have to be approved by the community. Without community approval you could not get volunteers, without committed volunteers you would have no center. The Tepehua Community Center is one of a kind. It has proved that this blue print works and could be adapted for every barrio Lakeside.

The interesting thing regarding the terrain mountain-side north of Lake Chapala, is that it is partially ejidal land which was given to the indigenous people by a past president for not capitulating to the Spanish and it still remains the people’s land. It is almost impossible to buy today as most titles are in families from generations past. Ten or twelve years ago, when the center was still a vision, a donor bought from the title owner of the Tepehua building a 99 year lease and that is how the vision for a center became a reality. In 2020 the title owner signed over the title to Tepehua Community Center in its entirety, so the center is there forever for the people. It can never be sold or become a private domain. The Ejidal Office said that they would give the center as much support as they could for projects to improve the life of the people.  Unfortunately, they had no money and there were no titles left for them to give us for an intended project of communal toilets. 

Our studies at this time are focussed on water and sanitation. Of the 7,000 people in Tepehua, 50% have no toilets.  Open defecation is the biggest problem of poverty all over the world. Where can people go if they have no private toilets? Why don’t they have toilets? No money to spend on luxury items, and for millions the world over, toilets are a luxury. To hook up to the local sewer line in Mexico costs $1,500 for the permission alone.  Add labour and material and it becomes a luxury item.

Communal toilets are a must in congested slum areas. The local people like this idea so much they are offering land that they cannot afford to build on, or land for their children’s inheritance that is sitting idle, for the center to use under contract for communal toilets. Again, community acceptance because of community need. As we have built the first MPC community center in Tepehua, so we will build the first communal bathroom as a pilot program. If it survives 2021, we will build more in 2022. The first communal toilet should be finished by the end of May. We will have a second one before the end of the year.

The communal toilets of Tepehua will create a work exchange. The cleaning crew will be able to take advantage of the center’s programs – help to get their children through school, free medical and dental, counseling and further education. Priceless. They would not earn enough money for those in a full time job!

For the interior decorators out there, if you are changing out your utilities such as sinks and toilets, please remember the sanitation drive in Tepehua. We will come and take away the old one whose color doesn’t please you anymore but is still in good shape to make another home happy. Your reject is another’s necessity.

Stay safe, wear a mask.


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