The Guadalajara Reporter wrote an article in March about CEDEJO services. Click here to view the original article on GR or read it below.
Lakeside’s female health care center, outreach program motoring forward
Published: 23 March 2016
Written by Dale Hoyt Palfrey
“Just imagine, we have found women who have given birth to as many as 15 children and never had a pap smear test,” says Silvia Flores, the director of the non-profit Centro de Desarrollo de Jocotepec (Cedejo) who heads the highly effective health care outreach program launched last year in a dozen lakeshore communities.
Four days a week, Flores and her team of assistants board a well-equipped “clinic on wheels” and head out to destinations stretched between the towns of Mezcala and El Chante. The van parks at village plazas or outside government-run DIF (Family Development Agency) centers to offer free services, such as blood pressure and pulmonary oxygen saturation checks, examinations for early detection of diabetes, breast and cervical cancer and guidance on family planning.
Some test results are available on the spot. Clinical findings of the Papanikolaou exams, paid for by Cedejo, are delivered to patients within 22 days. Every other week, women who show symptoms requiring further medical analysis are transported in the van to Guadalajara’s Ramon Garibay Hospital for ultrasound exams provided for a modest charge of 50 pesos each.
The mobile unit operates under the auspices of Health Outreach for Women, a program sustained by an anonymous benefactor.
Flores attributes the success and high response to this program to the network of volunteer women who have taken charge of publicizing the mobile unit visiting schedule among the populace.
Though Flores never toots her own horn, her dynamic personality and steadfast dedication to aiding the underprivileged are unquestionable parts of the equation. A native of Durango, where she earned her title as a registered nurse at the Universidad Juarez, she settled in the north shore village of San Pedro Tesistan in 1974. Based there, Flores embarked on an initiative to provide basic first aid attention to locals, later extending services to San Cristobal Zapotilan and El Molino.
She opened Jocotepec's Development Center in 1982 to focus on female health issues, including birth control and prenatal care, and assist in childbirth as a registered mid-wife. She closed that facility in 2002 to concentrate work at the Ajijic branch started up in 1991.
Over the years CEDEJO and Flores shifted their aims to a broader scope that now includes orientation on the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, marital relations and gender issues, as well as birth control and family planning, for both men and women. Beyond the center's doors, she has led numerous conferences on those themes at local schools and churches.
An irrepressible activist in her field of expertise, Flores continues exploring new avenues as an advocate for women's rights, responsible sexual conduct and healthy families.
In 2013-2014, CEDEJO set in motion the pilot project for a workshop series called Mujeres: Poder y Vida (Women: Power of Life), first implemented in Chapala's impoverished Tepehua neighborhood. The program is designed to address problems of poverty, marginalization, gender equality, domestic violence and limited economic opportunities that directly impact the lives of women in the north shore region.
The Chapala Sunrise Rotary Club decided to take the project under its wing for its continuation and growth during 2016 and 2017. (Look for full details on the chapalarotary.org website).
CEDEJO's latest educational enterprise is the start-up of a program on the prevention of teenage pregnancies directed at male and female adolescents. A pilot program is being supported by Karuna Gomez Mont and Aurora Michel, who were behind the promising Lake Chapala aquaculture project fostered by the non-profit group Luz de Malla.
With all these humanitarian efforts and accomplishments under her belt, it's not surprising that Flores has been singled out for numerous public honors. She took away Lakeside Awards trophies for Project of the Year in 1989, Woman of the Year in 1989 and Pioneer of the Year in 2005. She has also received recognition from the Chapala and Jocotepec governments for services to the community and a hero award from the Giraffe Project that salutes individuals who stick out their necks for good causes. And during the 1996 celebration of its 50th anniversary, the United Nations put Flores in the limelight with a certificate of appreciation for her "Continuation to Common Unity".
Despite recurrent financial struggles, CEDEJO remains on solid footing thanks to Flores' unwavering commitment, a devoted team of co-workers and volunteers and a strong board of director under the leadership of current president Darlene MacLeod.
Learn more about CEDEJO programs and activities at www.CEDEJO.org and its Facebook page.