Mexico “Integrated Community Development Project to Accompany Indigenous/Autonomous Municipalities in Chiapas, Mexico”
About the Region • Since the Zapatista uprising in January 1994 in Chiapas, a low-intensity, counterinsurgency war has been waged, which has only exacerbated the conditions of extreme poverty within the conflict zone. • Communities are still harassed and displaced, community leaders are threatened and often killed. • In August, 2003 the formal constitution of the “Good Government Councils” was created by the Autonomous Municipalities in which they officially declared the formation of a democratic, collective, community-based, government structure in the region, a model for the rest of Mexico. • This project actually began in the early 1980s as part of a larger Concern America project providing health training and services for Guatemalan refugees. • When many of the Guatemalan refugees returned to their homelands (1994-1998), Concern America remained in Chiapas to continue working with the local population.
Current Professional Team Coni Silva, M.D. John Emrich, M.D. Patricia Aracil, Mental Health Alicia Arnandis, Education Specialist Leon Hasert, Appropriate Technology Specialist Oliver Style, Appropriate Technology Specialist Carmen Ramirez, Appropriate Technology Specialist Rick Van Savage, Appropriate Technology & Business Specialist
Project Description: • Health: training courses for health promoters and midwives, including “multipliers” (local trainers); women’s health through leadership training, community organization, and training women health promoters; enhancing health infrastructure including equipping clinics and writing a health manual in local, indigenous languages; coordinating medical residents (pasantes) working in the region. • Potable Water/Appropriate Technology: design and construction of water systems for remote communities is the primary focus; other appropriate technology applications include solar energy, compost latrines, and fuel-efficient stoves. • Community Economic Development: support and technical training for various community-based economic development projects; administration courses to manage these projects. • Education: the creation of education materials for schools and training manuals for Educators; capacity support for the local education system comprised of the Education Commissions and Educators.
Stories from the Field “We just returned from working on one of the water projects and we used a strategy to get the women more involved in the great event of putting a potable water system in their community. You probably know that all the meetings on this subject usually involve men only. In prior years other C/A team members have tried to include women, but this strategy of involving women seems to have gotten lost in recent years. So, during our last visit to this community, we proposed a women's meeting, since women are the ones who most use (or misuse) water in their daily work. About 100 women participated in the meeting (with their children, of course), and we had a long discussion on health-related matters: hygiene, health aspects related to water, saving water instead of letting the tap open the whole day, some ecologic and also health-relevant aspects like the avoidance of garbage in rivers and locating latrines near streams. It was a very positive meeting. The women seemed to be happy to rediscover some community behaviors that they had had some time ago but which had been lost, like organizing garbage collecting brigades etc.” ~ Leon Hasert, Water Engineer (2004)
Contact Information:Concern AmericaP.O. Box 1790Santa Ana, CA 927021-800-CONCERN714-953-8575E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org