The Chiapas Project was founded in 2001 by the Brody/Liegner family of Newton, New Jersey. Responding to the wishes of their then 16 year-old son Nick, Joanne Liegner and David Brody contacted the Salesian Sisters in Newton and arranged to have Nick spend 9 weeks volunteering in one of the 6 orphanages the Sisters run in the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico. When Sister Ernestina Vieyra of Mexico City learned that Joanne is a gynecologist and David is a dentist, she implored then to join their son at the end of the summer and travel to the remote town of Ocotepec to provide medical and dental care, as none was available to the Zoque people who live there. Thus The Chiapas Project was born. The Project is non-denominational and international. There are no admistrative expenses and all volunteers pay their own way for the privilege of helping others. School, civic, and religious groups of all faiths have been involved in supporting The Chiapas Project.
The Chiapas Project travels to southern Mexico twice each year, once at the end of the summer, and again in the late winter. Our next trips will be in August 2012.
While in Chiapas, the group of about 35 volunteers typically provides medical and dental care to over 1000 patients in the town of Ocotepec and its surrounding villages. They have also treated children at the Salesian school for sexually abused girls in Campainala as well as at the boy’s orphanage in Tuxtla Gutierrez. Care has been limited to treatment of acute maladies (dental infections, parasitic and general medical infections, post-partum bleeding and infections, pre-natal malnutrition, etc) as follow-up care is not currently available and supplies are limited to what is brought by the group on each trip.
The goal of The Chiapas Project is to create a permanent presence of trained medical and dental care providers for the indigenous people of the region. This will be accomplished by expanding the circle of volunteers who travel to Mexico so that groups will arrive more often and to further involving the medical and dental communities of the capital city of Tuxtla Gutierrez in the care of their poorer and more isolated neighbors. Donations of supplies and medicines (or the funds to purchase them) are critical to the expansion of service provided.
To learn more about the work of The Chiapas Project please go to the “Past Missions” and “Support Our Project” sections of our website.