On Friday, September 1st, the day commemorating the 47th anniversary of the establishment of Chapala as a city, Mayor Javier Degollado launched a new social program called “Todos Unitos por Chapala,” and the foreign community can participate.
The program committee, which includes Expat Liaison Gloria Perales, has visited many homes in recent weeks in the municipality (including San Nicolás de Ibarra and Santa Cruz), and has identified an initial group of homes that have critical needs, such as enclosed roofs and walls and real floors, as well as such basics as chairs, bureaus, stoves, and mattresses. Some of these homes are barely habitable and dangerous, with fragile electric wires suspended below bulging plastic sheeting roofs. Machetes hang from the walls to kill snakes that climb through wall openings to escape the rain. Leaking roofs mean that possessions have to be piled up in the dry corners. Only one burner or no burners work on the stove. And, drains and sewers back up into the homes to create noxious disease environments. These are third-world conditions.
Two hundred homes have been identified as being the most in need in the first phase of this program. They are inhabited by people with few opportunities to better their circumstances, such as the elderly and infirm, and women and children who have been abandoned.
From now to the end of this month, Degollado is bringing in municipal surplus materials and workmen to repair and rebuild structures (floors, drains, walls, roofs, electricity) so that they are safe. SIMAPA will help with drains and water lines. Part of the labor pool will consist of local prisoners, who will have the opportunity to learn new skills and earn money for their families. Committee members will also instruct residents on how to maintain safe and healthy living conditions. Any expats who would like to donate surplus building tools or materials, like sand, tiles, usable lumber, windows, screens, concrete, or sheetrock may contact Gloria Perales at 331-249-8547 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once the residential structures are safe and habitable, donations of basic appliances and furniture will be welcome. This is where foreigners can really help. Furniture and appliance donations will start to be collected in Chapala’s city hall on Friday, September 29th, and each person who donates will be photographed with their donations for some sort of display as a show of appreciation.
In addition to improving infrastructure and providing basic furniture needs, the program is also making available medications for people who have prescriptions they cannot afford to fill. Other essentials, such as powdered milk, soy milk, and dialysis supplies are also being stocked at city hall.
The committee has also expressed an interest in involving the absent children north of the border who transfer money to their Mexican families. They will have an opportunity to donate even a few pesos to this cause to help their families and neighbors live better lives.
Many local organizations will be encouraged to participate and to donate skills and materials. For instance, Mr. Hammer, the carpenter school on the Carretera in Riberas del Pilar, has already volunteered to build furniture.
This may well be the biggest social outreach program in the area in many years, and it will not stop at just the first phase, but will continue throughout the remaining term of Degollado’s administration (due to end near the end of 2018). And, it offers the foreign community an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of the neediest of their fellow residents.
More information will be forthcoming in the next few weeks as plans are solidified.