The Tepehua Centro Community Center was built on dreams, promises and disappointments, built by a few with tenacity and the help of many who believed that change could come. Some of its successes were built on other people’s pain. To the local people it was a lifeline that they themselves had to take hold of to make it happen. Hope was born and the right to dream a reality.
In the process of rehabilitating the building when it was still a children’s home, Amor en Accion, a man lost his son to the war in Afghanistan, so he donated the land behind Amor en Accion in the name of his son so that his grief would rest. After this land became the property of the Tepehua Centro Comunitario for the families, a classroom was built and an addition that became a dental clinic. Shortly thereafter, our clinic was built for the poor, plus a maternity unit to abate the high mortality rate of barrio mothers. Just in recent years the potable water unit was added to supply drinking water to those under the poverty line. The war in a foreign land took away the promise of a young man, dedicated to serve but lost in the battle. But a man’s grief became a monument that will forever give back to people in need.
Another such story was that of our food program. When COVID began and casual labor was all but eliminated, so many people became hungry with no means to earn or find help. Compounding this was the lack of potable water because of our poisoned wells. As always with emergencies, help came in swiftly because of those who care about their fellow man, but soon everyone was disillusioned, lost in confusion and panic, and the giving slowed to almost nothing. The people were used to getting the dispensers of food by this time and they would line up to no avail. There was no food until . . . a woman carrying the indescribable pain of the loss of a young daughter, when seeing the hunger of the barrio children and the despair of the helpless mothers, the idea that she and her daughter together could help was clear. Using the money left to her by her child she began making bags of food for the poor. Tepehua Center became her dispensing station. With the help of a team, every two weeks she gives out enough food to feed fifty families for a month. Although parents always carry the pain of losing a child, it settles into a quiet place and the memory can be called upon now and again instead of being a constant companion.
The gift of these parents was an unselfish act, one giving back his love to a world that took away his son, and the other sharing her daughter and the love she gave for the short time she was alive to those in need. These quiet heroes among us who can turn pain into a promise or an act of kindness are many but seldom do we listen.
Quickly following the onset of grief there is usually a feeling of guilt for various reasons, “I should have been there… “ “I didn’t say I love you enough…” “I should have spent more time…” The grim reaper cannot wait for us to do the right thing. But know that most of us do the best we can and if you know you didn’t, don’t waste time grieving, do it now. Grief is personal and can never be shared with another. Verbally, yes, but personal pain cannot be shared, it is yours to carry.
Giving and volunteering for strangers is an act that can come back to you in countless ways. It doesn’t buy you a place in heaven, but it can bring you peace on earth.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com