Hooray For Cedejo!
By Sheila Poettgen
The Centro de Desarrollo Jocotepec, A.C. (CEDEJO), located in Ajijic, has provided care to area indigenous and low-income women and families in the area for over 30 years. The non-profit clinic offers a variety of services and outreach programs including low-cost health consultations, family planning to aid in the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and STDs, and educational workshops on sex and gender issues. 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 through theTepehua Community Centerin Chapala.
This past year, for International Women’s Day and in honor of all the women around the world who help to empower others, I volunteered to create a website for CEDEJO and to update their very outdated brochure from 1986. I wanted to use current photos of the inspirational Director, registered nurse and midwife, Sylvia Flores, and other volunteers in action so I asked for permission to visit the clinics in order to photograph their work.
Upon visiting the clinics I was greatly affected by how important the work of CEDEJO is to the community. Women of all ages lined up outside the free clinic offered through the Tepehua Community Center in order to gain access to health services they would not otherwise be able to afford.
A woman in her mid-thirties, who arrived with two children and a third on the way, received a pre-natal examination and consultation. A 15 year old inquired about her choices for preventing pregnancy. She already had one child at home and was struggling to make ends meet. Another woman stopped in for a breast examination, concerned about a lump she had recently discovered.
For many of these women, 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.
So when I learned that the organization that had provided financial support for the clinic for the last two years was unable to continue funding due to restrictions beyond their control and that, without another funding source, the clinic would be forced to close by the end of August 2013, I was heartbroken.
Cervical and breast cancer is the leading cause of death for local women between the ages of 35 and 60 and the clinic provides the most vulnerable women in our community preventative services. Their work helps the community make great strides forward in relation to women’s health and empowerment. CEDEJO is too important to this generation and the next to give up on it now, which is why I decided I needed to do more.
I have started a fundraising campaign in an attempt to raise the money needed to keep the doors of the clinic open for another year. Thankfully, over the last three months, we’ve raised 19% of the total fundraising goal, allowing the clinic to remain open through the end of November. However, the clinic’s fate is precarious and, now more than ever, it needs the Lakeside community’s help.
One generous donor has offered to match any individual donation of 5,000 pesos or more. If you’re moved by the clinic’s work and are 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 at www.centrodedesarrollojocotepec.com.