AJIJIC VILLAGE HOMES
People In Our Community
On the surface, the Lakeside villages are like many others in Mexico. They all have the characteristic cobblestone streets, Spanish-tiled roofs and relaxed atmosphere. A closer look, however, reveals several distinct differences-- welcome to a community where people strive to improve their community by being involved.
Giving Back to the Community
Many of the social events happening Lakeside are actually fund-raisers for charitable organizations. Charitable activities unite the Mexican and foreign populations are they work together to improve the quality of life within the community. The level of community involvement is something to behold.
Lakeside School for the Deaf
MARDI GRAS BALL FUND-RAISER FOR THE SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF AT THE REAL DE CHAPALA UNDER THE TREES BY THE LAKE
Lakeside School for the Deaf is alive and productive today because of two Canadian women, Jackie Hartley and Roma Jones, who got lost in the mountains and wound up in Jocotepec. This was in May of 1979. Jackie rented a house and settled down to paint while Roma went back to Alberta to quit her job so she could return permanently. While painting in the plaza, Jackie noticed a small boy following her. Whenever she turned to him he would give her a shy smile but never spoke. Eventually, men in the plaza explained that the boy, named Rogelio, was deaf. Having both been teachers, Jackie and Roma asked the eight-year-old's parents if they might try to teach him. They had never worked with deaf children-- especially in Spanish, but were willing to give it a try. Only Jackie had any knowledge of the language.
They sent to the U.S. for books on sign language and Jackie set to translating. Their first classroom was the camper they had driven to Mexico. Soon Rogelio's 6-year-old sister joined them, followed by four other students. By the time they officially opened as the Lakeside School for the Deaf, they had nine eager children. From the camper, they moved into an abandoned chicken coop, which they cemented, plastered and painted.
Slowly, the school grew and recruited other teachers from British Columbia. it took time to gain the people's trust. Some parents were very protective and didn't want their children to travel and be boarded with strangers away from home while they learned. To others, if silence was the will of God, so be it; nothing could be done to change deafness! But the villagers did come around and, over the next four years, enrollment grew to 20 students. In July, 1986, Jackie became ill and returned to Canada for care. Roma decided it was time for her to go home, too.
Gwen Chan was the only teacher who remained through the '80s and '90s as the school's director. Norine Rose, also a native of Toronto, Canada, became a president of the support group for several productive years. With their leadership and the energy of their friends, the school grew. Now they have title to their own land, appropriate school classrooms, a computer lab and playground.
The results have been astonishing. Students have gone from knowing nothing except hardship and silence, to becoming secretaries, carpenters, cabinet makers, dress makers, jewelry artisans, gardeners. It is extremely rewarding to watch them grow in their new self-confidence. Hearing aids are supplied, health care given and the children are fed hot meals at midday.
Today there are more than 45 students, boarded in Jocotepec, plus children with other disabilities. The State of Jalisco has taken over the teachers' wages, but the support group still raises the money for the hearing aids, doctors, land, taxes, utilities, repairs, food, transporting costs from the deaf children's villages, and boarding costs.
Every Christmas, the students put on a pantomime entertainment, a joy to
watch. When they sing Silent Night in sign language, the love is boundless and
the tears are apt to come.
children from the Lakeside School for the Deaf 'sign' "Silent Night" in
the 2004 Christmas program. The children put on a program every year
which is extremely heart-warming and uplifting. It is also usually very funny
with the fights between the devil and angels. It is so fantastic to watch the
children grow and expand from year to year.
St. Andrew's Outreach
Every year, St. Andrew's Outreach holds its annual Regalorama (Christmas Bazaar) on the first Saturday of December. Outreach accepts all donations whether large or small. Items can be brought to St. Andrew's Church office Monday through Saturday from 9:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M.
Each year the Outreach Committee decides their priorities for fund distribution. It is generally decided that Education is the top priority, because it is the best deterrent to future poverty. This is followed by Health and last, but not least, other Charitable causes. Our funds are distributed accordingly. All Registered Charities must submit financial records and unregistered charities must submit a Grant application and available financial information.
It is quite amazing to see how much is accomplished in helping numerous groups on the Lakeside - the Red Cross, School for the Deaf, Niños Incapicitados (Handicapped Children), several orphanages, Homes for the Elderly, Lakeside Education Fund - just to mention a few organizations, but there are many causes and many people to assist in raising funds.
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Villa Infantil is located in a rural area near the small village of San Pedro Tesistan -- about forty-five minutes from Guadalajara on the south shore of Lake Chapala. The orphanage was started in Guadalajara in 1996 and moved to this location in 2002. It is run with loving care by Madre Maria with the help of two other nuns. There are currently 23 children at the Villa aged 1-13. In 2010, ten children were either adopted or able to return home to a family member. The children are all brought to the Villa through the Department of Social Services and it is anticipated that 5 or more children will make the Villa their home by the end of this year.
In early July 2011, Villa Infantil had its first comprehensive state inspection. The state presented Madre Maria with a list of new compliance items that must be met if the Villa is to operate as an orphanage after November 28, 2011. While many of the items were simple to address and have already been accomplished, some require substantial amounts of funding.
Please visit our website at www.friendsofvillainfantil.org to find out more about the Villa and get information about visiting, donating, volunteering or sponsoring a child.
We hope you will forward this website onto your friends, family and organizations who may be interested in supporting this wonderful little Mexican orphanage.
This is our only means of introducing the Villa Infantil to the outside world!
Villa Infantil depends solely on your contributions! We ask you not to forget the children!
Thank you so very much!