Main Plaza San Pedro Itzicán
After living in the Lake Chapala area of Ajijic 6 years, I finally found the opportunity to visit the towns east of Mezcala, specifically the town of San Pedro Itzicán. San Pedro Itzicán is located about an hour east of Chapala. It lies on a narrow stretch of land on the shore of Lake Chapala, east of Mezcala. It is hugged by the steep and close mountains to the north and Lake Chapala to the south.
Maps of San Pedro Itzicán
San Pedro Itzicán is located in the Municipality of Poncitlan
Vista from Main Plaza of San Pedro Itzicán
Due to recent information being release and publicized on the unusually high incident rates of renal failure in the area, my information regarding this town was faulty. I expected to find a very impoverished, unkempt, sad town. Instead what I saw was a humble, clean, naturally stunning town of modest, beautiful people who deeply care about their community. This is not to say that San Pedro Itzicán does not struggle with lack of employment, pollution, corruption, hunger and now wide spread renal failure problems. It does, and it is trying to improve its lot with the assistance of outside help and also internally by their people helping their own.
Poster on the town church wall
As an example, this poster found on the main church wall tells locals to avoid certain water resources and gives reasons why; also suggesting to avoid eating carp and to preferably choose mojarra.
I was invited to meet the local school children, to help with the instruction of their own school food garden. Poco A Poco San Pedro is the organization that has been bringing donations to the town for 6 months now, helping to start assistance programs such as the local organic food growth program, the town clean up efforts, personal hygiene and women's health care instruction. Please visit their website at:
Children's Garden Plant Donations
Armed with a carload of plant donations (ejotes, tomatoes, papaya and moringa trees), we awaited the arrival of a truckload of garden soil. It arrived and the school children went to work moving it from the delivery site to the school garden site.
Soil Arrives! (Gracias Fernando)
Principal Juan Oversees The Delivery
First Planting Tier
Three tiers in the entryway of the school property had been set aside for planting. The entire truckload of soil was just enough to fill the first planting tier. More soil is to be delivered throughout the week.
Our Enthusiastic Working Crew
During the labor, we took a break for a lesson/instruction on planting and specifically focused on moringa trees. Lau'ana Lei, author of Growing Moringa Trees accompanied us that day and gave the class.
Moringa is being used worldwide to combat malnutrition.
Lau'ana Lei handing out moringa tree seeds
We had many helpers that day, but Leonardo took a special interest in planting and was one of the most talented at the task.
Doris and Jim get digging
Jorge, from the Brigadistas enjoyed the planting
Group Photo Op
Moringa Tree Forest
At the end of the day 30 moringa trees were planted, creating the school's own forrest. The children will be the caretakers/stewards of the forest watering and making sure the seedllngs will grow big and strong.
Integral to all the town's self improvement projects are The Brigadistas.
"Brigadistas" are the youth leaders who volunteer to help their community and coordinate other, younger youth. They learn basic fire-fighting techniques, first aid, and learn new skills and interests.
Being a "brigadista" means that they must spend time prior to going to or after school, or at weekends, visiting and helping in their community. They range in age from 13 to 25 years of age, and there are currently over 40 "brigadistas" enrolled in the program from San Pedro Itizcán and the outlying villages.
Anita Torres Guerrero receives us at the Brigadistas Headquarters
"Churro", the Brigadista's mascot
The "brigadista" leaders, both young men and women are trained as local, back-up firefighters - because the local fire brigade would take a long time reaching the town in an emergency. These young trainees get training in Guadalajara on how to prevent, as well as fight fires.
The benefits to the Brigadista youth is that they get special training (fire-fighting), help their community, take part in community projects, and many other local events. (They are given a uniform (hat, shirt, vest and trousers) but money is raised separately for this.) And they enjoy the prestige they earn.
Brigadista troupe at moringa forest planting
Brigadista Plant Nursery
Perhaps because of the proximity of the mountains to the town to the lake, San Pedro Itzicán radiates natural magic. It's people, while being introduced to outsiders, are welcoming. Its town's needs are immediate and visible....is this not the true definition of transparency? And isn't transparency in our governments what we aspire to?
San Pedro Itzicán Lakeshore
I find that direct connection with the people and organizations I choose to work with is best.
You too can create a direct connection and assist. Please join us in our efforts to help