Join CEDEJO on May 22nd, 10:30 a.m. at the Lake Chapala Society's Open Circle.
Sylvia will share stories about her efforts to help women and families of the most marginalized Lakeside communities. In the 80s she created a team of leaders who worked to empower these communities. She will tell us how her institution addresses the most important problems like breast and cervical cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancy and domestic violence.
Sylvia Flores is a registered nurse and midwife, founder of Centro de Desarollo Jocotepec A.C (www.cedejo.ORG), a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for Lake Chapala families with limited resources through promoting the health and well-being of the family. Since 1984 Sylvia has presented lectures and conferences in the United States, Egypt, Cuba, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Guatemala, as well as throughout Mexico.
Open Circle's Website: opencircleajijic.org
Two reminders from the Open Circle Steering Committee:
1. We are asking attendees to leave pets at home, with the exception of service dogs.
2. Please bring your own coffee mugs.
Open Circle begins each Sunday morning at 10:00 in the garden at Lake Chapala Society for a social time including coffee, tea and sandwich bites. The presentation begins at 10:30.
CEDEJO was pleased to find a comprehensive article about CEDEJO Director, Sylvia Flores, and her activist history featured in the Guadalajara Reporter this week. Reporter Dale Hoyt Palfrey also discusses volunteer efforts to help the clinic stay afloat. Check it out the article below or online.
Details Published on Friday, 24 January 2014 10:12 Written by Dale Hoyt Palfrey
Distinguished by her dynamic and perpetually cheerful personality, Silvia Flores stands out as the lakeside area’s trailblazer in the fields of family planning, reproductive health care and sex education.
A registered nurse and practicing midwife with more than 500 deliveries under her belt, Flores is the founder and driving force of the non-profit Centro de Desarrollo Jocotepec, A.C. (CEDEJO), currently headquartered in central Ajijic with an outreach clinic operating two days of the week at Chapala’s Tepehua Community Center.
Her long history of compassionate community service to local women and families goes back four decades when she began providing maternal care and health counseling to low-income residents in the south shore village of San Pedro Tesistan. Extending her work to other rural communities eventually led to the 1986 establishment of CEDEJO, based in Jocotepec until 1991 when she relocated to Ajijic.
Over the years she came to be recognized as a pioneer in sexual education who was welcomed into the classrooms at many local schools and even pre-marital orientation seminars offered by the area’s Roman Catholic churches.
Along the way she trained dozens of other lakeside women interested in following her footsteps in promoting pre-natal care, the prevention of cervical and breast cancer and sexually transmitted diseases, and the once widely taboo topic of contraception.
Meanwhile, Flores gained status as a leading national voice on family planning and women’s issues. She has organized community workshops and contributed to countless national and international conferences on population, development and advocacy, appearing as a guest lecturer for events in the United States, Egypt, Cuba, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Guatemala, as well as her home country.
In 1996 she received a certificate of appreciation for her work and “Contribution to Common Unity” issued by the United Nations. On the local front she has racked up numerous accolades, earning public recognition for her contribution to reproductive rights of women and Community Awards trophies for Project of the Year (1986), Lifetime Achievement (1991), Woman of the Year (1995) and Pioneer of the Year (2005).
Flores has the added distinction of being the sole survivor of the first generation of volunteers at the Mexican National Chili Cookoff. She’ll be on hand for the 36th edition of the event, coming up February 14 through 16, in her customary spot as head of the hot dog and chili bowl stand.
Despite her boundless energy and multiple achievements, Flores has not always enjoyed smooth sailing in her journey as an activist. The very survival of CEDEJO has been threatened as grants and funding opportunities have gradually dried up over time.
Fortunately, the CEDEJO program has found a new and enthusiastic advocate in the person of Sheila Poettgen. The Vermont native and her life partner Kai arrived in Ajijic nearly a year and a half ago, immediately recognizing a congenial community to take an extended break from a round-the-world cycling adventure. They promptly developed close ties with various local activists. Inspired by the commemoration of International Women’s Day last March Poettgen decided to honor women around the world who help to empower others by pitching in as a CEDEJO volunteer and program booster. She offered her talents to design fresh promotional materials for the center, develop a Facebook page, slick website (www.CentroDeDesarrolloJocotepec.com) and train staff on keeping them up-to-date, and most significantly initiate some creative fund-raising schemes to keep the project going on more a solid financial foundation.
Last August she started a blog (www.gofundme.com/save-health-clinic) with the goal of raising 12,000 dollars to sustain CEDEJO programs for a full year. In December she posted the announcement of a Match Challenge, aimed at collecting 24,000 pesos by January, 31. CEDEJO supporter Judith Frugier and a group of Canadian friends made a time sensitive pledge to contribute a total of 12,000 pesos to double all donations received by the deadline. This week Poettgen reported the challenge was fulfilled 12 days ahead of the target date. The ante was immediately raised by an additional 4,000 pesos for donations coming in by the end of the month.
Persons wishing to jump on the bandwagon are encouraged to drop off donations directly at the Ajijic Clinic, Ocampo 45-A, open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m., or follow one of the alternate avenues available on either the Centro’s website or Poettgen’s campaign blog.
Feliz Ano Nuevo a todas y todos nuestros amigos que han ayudado con su donation para continuar dando servicios de Salud a las mujeres de bajos recursos!
CEDEJO clinic was featured in an article that appeared in the November issue of the Lake Chapala Review!
CEDEJO volunteer, Sheila Poettgen, shares the story behind the CEDEJO clinic and how we inspired her to start her 2013-2014 Fundraising Campaign to support our free health clinics.
Check out the article online or read it below, then pass it around to friends, family members and organizations that you think might be interested in helping to support CEDEJO's important work.
Feature Article :: "Saving a Clinic in order to Save Lives"
Written by Sheila Poettgen
I rolled in to Ajijic over a year ago. My partner and I, attempting to fulfill a life-long dream to bicycle around the world, had pedaled over 5000 km from our home in Vermont to Jalisco. After 12 months of traveling we decided to stop along the shores of Lake Chapala to complete a writing project and to give our weary legs a break.
As we travel, we stop at places along the way so I can volunteer my technical skills (network administration, computer support, website design) to organizations whose missions I believe in. In giving of my time and energy I learn more about the local culture and about the community’s struggles and accomplishments. I also gain a stronger sense of compassion, a renewed sense of hope in humanity and friendships that last a lifetime.
For International Women’s Day in March, and in honor of all the women around the world who help to empower others, I decided to volunteer with a local women’s health clinic.
The Centro de Desarrollo Jocotepec, A.C. (CEDEJO), located in Ajijic, has provided care to area indigenous and low-income women and families for over 30 years. The Ajijic clinic accepts clients three days a week and leads educational workshops through a variety of community organizations, schools and forums. Twice a week CEDEJO offers free pap smears and breast examinations, as well as family planning counseling to one of the poorest and most vulnerable barrios in Jalisco, the Tepehua community in Chapala.
After meeting with Sylvia Flores, the inspirational director of CEDEJO, I realized I could best help by increasing the clinic’s visibility online and by updating their informational materials. After designing a website for CEDEJO, I created a Facebook page and designed a brochure outlining the services CEDEJO offers. It replaces a very outdated brochure from 1986. I wanted to use photographs of Sylvia and her volunteers in action in their new promotional materials so I asked for permission to visit the clinics during business hours in order to photograph their work.
While visiting the clinics, I was greatly impressed by how important the work of CEDEJO was to the community. I was particularly moved by the free clinic that CEDEJO manages at a space that the Tepehua Community Center provides to them, in which Sylvia meets with women to provide everything from breast exams and pap smears to counseling on domestic abuse and family planning. While there, I witnessed women of all ages lining up outside the clinic’s doors in order to gain access to health services they would not otherwise be able to afford. For many, it was the first time in their lives that they were able to receive gynecological care.
I saw the relief in their faces as nurses responded to their health concerns and I watched them leave with smiles of gratitude.
I learned from Sylvia that the local organization that provided financial support for the clinic over the past two years is unable to continue funding due to restrictions beyond their or her control. Sylvia feared that unless another funding source became available she would have to close at the end of August 2013. She was visibly concerned; the clinic’s work is too important to give up. She explained that the counseling and exams help the community to make great strides forward in relation to women’s health and empowerment.
As I looked into the eyes of the children visiting the clinic with their mothers, I couldn't help but think that the examinations being provided that day might help prevent their mothers from dying from cancer. Considering that cervical and breast cancer are the leading cause of death for local women between the ages of 35 and 60, it is tragic that so many women in the community are unable to afford access to vital, preventative services.
Later, while bicycling to our Lakeside home, I felt heartbroken that the clinic might be forced to close its doors. It did not seem just that women who were my new neighbors might be denied something that I had been privileged to receive throughout my lifetime. I felt I needed to do more.
It was then that I decided to start a fundraising campaign to attempt to raise the money needed to keep the doors of the clinic open for another year.
Thankfully, in the last two months, I've raised over 7% of the total fundraising goal, allowing the clinic to remain open through the end of October. However, the clinic is currently struggling from week to week, using funds as they trickle in, which is why I’m reaching out to the Lakeside community for help. Can we pull together to help our neighbors and to save this valuable clinic? I believe we can and so does a generous donor who has offered to match any individual donation of $5,000 pesos or more.
If you’re able to contribute any amount to this campaign (every little bit helps) or you’d like to review details of how funds will be used, please visit: www.gofundme.com/save-health- clinic. To find out more about CEDEJO’s inspirational work, visit their website. Thank you.
Sheila Poettgen is an activist, artist, minimalist, author, and supporter of sustainable living. She travels around the world by bicycle, works as a freelance website designer, teaches English as a second language, house & pet sits, and volunteers with organizations that promote social justice and women's empowerment