08192019Mon
Last updateFri, 16 Aug 2019 11am

Columns

Giving shelter to our own kind

I read with great interest the article published on the pages of last week’s edition titled Four-legged friends fly for free.” It was a heart-warming report on local animal advocacy activists who arrange flights of freedom for canines that are placed in forever homes in Canada and the USA.

pg17I have since learned that the folks behind this noble work have helped accomplish the adoption of several hundred homeless Mexican pups, as well as raising megabucks to cover the costs of air transportation. That’s an astounding record.

Lakeside expats have a long and laudable history of supporting diverse charitable causes ranging from medical care and rehabilitation for sick and disabled children and homes that take in abandoned and abused kids to worthy educational programs, all in benefit to Mexican people of limited means.

There are numerous groups and individuals who hold deep concern for all kinds of critters. The spectrum of their activities includes operating shelters for strays, organizing free spay and neuter programs and rescuing injured and displaced wildlife. One can only imagine how much time, energy and financial sacrifice is dedicated to these pursuits.

But one thing that has not yet caught the community’s attention is the apparent growing need to set up some sort of support system for lonely compatriots in distress. In recent months I got word of some disturbing cases in particular.

There was an elderly expat who attempted to commit suicide at the steps of Chapala’s parish church. I heard his landlord came to the rescue.

Some weeks later a senior U.S. citizen appeared at Ajijic’s Delegation office saying he had lost all his money and identification documents. When he asked for shelter in the police holding cell, the duty officer told him the village jail no longer exists. He was farmed out to Chapala’s Red Cross Clinic where he was given a bed for a few nights.   

Last month another foreigner was fished out of the lake after an accidental or intentional plunge off the Ajijic pier. His rescuers suspected he was intoxicated or mentally deranged. He too ended up at Cruz Roja for a spell before getting kicked out for groping female staffers.

Chapala’s official liaison for expatriates Héctor España was made aware of all of these cases. He believes the changing dynamics in the foreign populace will make similar situations more common. He gleans that the area is attracting more expats who get by on shoe-string budgets or suffer psychological disorders. How many aging resident immigrants already in our midst live in lonely abandon, afflicted by the ravages of ill health, dementia and poverty?

España laments that there are no public services available to take care of the destitute and mentally ill, regardless of nationality. Consular officials can do little to provide relief to fellow countrymen who fall into dire straights. The best they may offer is to run down relatives back in the homeland who are able and willing to step in.

If our community has the capacity for rescuing, sheltering and flying abroad animals in need, we can certainly pull together to provide equally compassionate care for those of our own species.