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Information part 1
Mission Information, part 1
INFORMATION up to December 31, 2010
The Complejo Asistencial Clínica Santa Teresita A.C. (CACSTAC) and its different programs are the fruit of Fr. Luis Verplancken’s initiative: a Jesuit missionary who worked in Tarahumara since 1960 and was in charge of the Parish in Creel starting in 1964.
In 1992 the Santa Teresita Hospital was legally registered with Fr. Verplancken as its director, until his death in 2004.
The Society of Jesus continues to be in charge of the management and direction of the Complejo Asistencial and its different programs.
When Fr. Verplancken arrived in Creel in 1964, the Tarahumara mortality rate among children under five years of age was 75 % (three out of every four children would die in their early infancy) The main causes were undernourishment, infections (otherwise easy to cure) and the lack of the most basic medical services in the whole area. A group of volunteer women in Creel, through Fr. Luis’ invitation, took care of some of those children in a little borrowed house near the church. Over the next 45 years, with the collaboration and enthusiasm of a group of donors, volunteers, nurses, doctors and other workers, that little house grew into a real hospital – inaugurated on July 31, 1979. Five other projects later became part of that initiative.
Since 1962, when he was in another mission post –Sisoguichi- Fr. Verplancken began to get food donations to somehow palliate hunger, due to poor crops caused by frost or drought. He exchanged baskets of basic food supplies for communitarian work on old churches, dirt roads, cemeteries, etc. This project grew and became more institutionalized over the years.
At that time, the biggest health problems were due to the lack of water or even clean water, not just for very tiny communities but even for bigger towns like Creel. So in 1970-1971 he promoted and supported –with the food for work system- a big project to bring water to Creel from the Bocoyna River across the hills, as well as the construction of the Arareko “lake” dam.
In 1992 the Santa Teresita Hospital team began to drill wells and supply them with hand pumps; the water project went into full swing in the year 2000.
Forty years ago, Raramuri children living in small communities had no chance at all of getting a formal education. Schools were a dream for 90% of them. So in 1968 Fr. Verplancken built the Gonogochi boarding school for more than 100 children, and in 1973 the one in Rejogochi. 15 years ago the Gonogochi building was turned over to the local community and later ceased to function. The Rejogochi School is still functioning today.
In order to get some support for the hospital and to promote handicrafts -especially among women- the Tarahumara Mission handicraft’s shop was established in 1972. Fr. Luis’ last major project was the Loyola Museum. Finished in 2003, it exhibits 45 paintings from the old Jesuit and Franciscan missions in the Tarahumara. Most of the paintings –from the 17th and 18th centuries- were in very bad condition and had to be restored by a group of Czech artists. The museum was built in the Cusárare community alongside of the Church “Los Cinco Señores de Cusárare” where originally 14 paintings on the life of the Virgin Mary hung. The Museum is run by two Raramuri women from Cusárare.
The Santa Teresita Complex’s mission is to care for and promote the integral wellbeing of the Tarahumara people, focusing on the most needy, vulnerable or dispossessed, especially children. We are committed to care for and promote their dignity, freedom, environment, culture, health and lives, without any discrimination due to race, religion or economic status, always respecting their culture, traditions and ways of life. Our main areas of interest and work are healthcare, education, protection and rational utilization of their environment and the diffusion of their cultural and artistic expressions.
We want to establish –in collaboration with the Tarahumara people - better and more just living conditions, by providing services, formation and support for healthcare, food, education and culture, making it available to the whole region, especially the Raramuri.
We pledge a harmonious development of our surrounding world; engaging in the design and implementation of our work the very same people we vow to serve, respecting their autonomy and cultural habits.
In order to accomplish this, we must be able to count on the experience and commitment of our personnel, the trust of the Raramuri people, the infrastructure and technology appropriate to our needs and services, as well as the support and trust of a very diverse group of benefactors.
To maintain and improve the health and educational services we currently offer the Raramuri as well as extending these services to more and more people.
To improve the programs for early detection and attention of health problems, mostly among children. To promote a more accurate knowledge of their causes, symptoms and consequences as well as available remedies. To increase the awareness of the need to protect and restore the soil and water quality, the woods, as well as improve better crop growing systems.
To improve and diversify our water supply programs and our well drilling capacity.
To improve, accompany and follow up for our Food for Work projects in a closer and more systematic way, mainly in regard to the method and efficacy of its distribution.
To keep the Rejogochi School functioning as a more culturally adapted and accessible alternative for the Raramuri children, providing them with food, healthcare, school supplies and clothes.
To continue to raise awareness in Chihuahua, Mexico and abroad about the Raramuri culture and their needs.
Specific Goals for the next five years
To review and study the role and performance of CACSTAC in the recent past, evaluating the effectiveness and meaningfulness of our services.
To improve our methods for detecting, accompanying and evaluating people’s needs and urgencies, and their demands for assistance.
To evaluate our personnel, their qualifications and needs, after designing and implementing programs to help us have a more stable and qualified staff, especially for the hospital and the school.
To introduce new electronic systems, programs and devices, and then train our staff in order to improve administrative procedures, making them faster and more accessible both at the hospital and the main office, for the flow of information and documentation.
To guarantee the necessary finances to sustain and improve our work for the next five years (this includes salaries, buildings and vehicles’ maintenance, medicine and other hospital related items, food, propane and gasoline).
To refurbish our drilling equipment and older vehicles.
To keep and renew the agreements we have with different foundations, government agencies or civic groups for collaboration with and the support of our projects.