Perfect Antidote to the Pandemic!

Juan Manuel Tovar Valdez

Today I met one of the kindest, happiest and most inspirational people I’ve met in eons. I’ve also figured out how to make this Christmas merry. My hope is that you will choose to join with Yolanda Medina (from the Chicken Breakfast and DIF) and me to help Juan Manuel Tovar Valdez and his father, Rodolfo in a project we are calling, “A Home for Juan Manuel.”

Juan Manuel is a 34-year old young man who smiles from ear to ear. Diabetic since birth (he was diagnosed at two years of age), his health took a huge turn for the worse three years ago. Training as a graphic designer, his heart broke when he began to lose his sight. Renal failure then took one of his legs. Now legally blind in both eyes and walking on one leg with crutches, there is a joyful glint in Juan Manuel’s eyes and his words are all upbeat. “The sun feels so good on my face! It’s really nice to be outside in the fresh air,” he told me as he stood, masked and on crutches, this afternoon in front of the home the father and son rent in Pradera Dorada. 

DIF Certificate of Disability

Cute, colorful government-built concrete townhomes from the outside, there isn’t much inside: a sitting room, bedroom where both men sleep, and a kitchen/bath. Their main furniture is a plastic patio table and two chairs. Rodolfo, 63 years of age, normally sells funeral services door to door. COVID-19 has put a stop to that, and he finds it increasingly difficult to buy the diapers and medicines that Juan Manuel needs, in addition to food and rent. Juan Manuel’s mother died from breast cancer 21 years ago. Their younger son, married with two children, lives nearby and contributes money to his brother and father every Saturday. But it’s not enough. They pay 1200 pesos/month rent, and receive 1300 pesos/month disability plus 500 pesos/month from DIF. “We have been gifted a vacant lot in Colonia San Antonio. There, if we build a simple room to live in, we won’t have to pay rent. The savings will help so much!” Rodolfo tells me. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Rodolfo has been working for months to pay the electric and water bills on the new lot, so that as soon as he can get the funds together, the pair can build a 6-meter by 3-meter (194 square feet) room to live in. “But, Don Rodolfo, here now you have a home with a bedroom, living room and kitchen. Why do you want to build a much smaller home?” “Because we can’t keep paying rent. I can’t do that and pay the bills. Now that we have been gifted a lot on which to build, that’s the wiser choice for us going forward.”

Meeting Juan Manuel today brought me so much joy! How can I be frustrated with being shut inside when this young man—with his whole life ahead of him—had the professional skills he worked so hard for robbed from him, his eyesight and his leg taken, and he’s still happy? “I love to draw. I can draw in every medium except paint; I never mastered that. And I love baseball. I played center field. Now I’m a passionate fan, listening on the radio.” 


My personal hope is that you all will be so generous that Juan Manuel and Don Rodolfo will be able to build a home bigger than 18 square meters. Fortunately building a simple home here is very reasonably priced. I hope you’ll find it in your heart to help. Reality is that the father and son will be over the moon happy with their new room. “We already have electricity, and I’ve been paying our share of water to Maestra Zulema in Colonia San Antonio. In our room we can have a small kitchen as well as a bath. We can live and sleep in the same room,” Rodolfo explained to me. 

Yolanda has worked to obtain a list of the materials and labor needed to build the one-room home. If you are able and see fit, won’t you donate to help these men out?

“A Home for Juan Manuel” Budget

1500 Bricks ($2800 millar)


15 Kilos of annealed wire ($40/kg)


Bags of mortar ($150/each)


10 Bags of cement ($195/each)


1 Cart of sand


1 Cart of gravel (6 meters)


10 Pieces concrete reinforcement mesh ($170)


30 x 3/8 rods ($130/each


Rent of concrete formwork

$2000 (pending confirmation) 

Concrete mixer

(Pending confirmation once the walls are up)

Materials Subtotal








Grand total

$39,175 pesos (approx. $2000 USD or $2500 Canadian)

Together we can do this, folks! We can make 2021 brighter for Juan Manuel and Rodolfo, and for ourselves! Giving and helping out do the heart and soul good! To donate, you have several options:

  • Click the “Donate” link in the right-hand column on this website, and pay via PayPal.
  • Go to any OXXO and donate to BanCoppel account 4169-1603-7041-0699 (photo below) in the name of Yolanda Medina.

  • Canadians who prefer to email money can send it to Jeanette Leraand:
  • Contact Yolanda via WhatsApp at 669 431 4529 to arrange a time to meet and give her your donation.
  • Contact me at and I’ll pick up your donation.

El Cártel de la Chatarra/Arrest of the Junk Food Cartel

Cártel12_568Here’s one news story that I absolutely love! This morning in Mexico City the Alianza por la Salud Alimentaria (Alliance for Nutritional Health) reenacted the arrest, for violation of human rights, of four “Captains of the Junk Food Cartel”! Bravo! It’s about time!

Cártel03_568Arrested were the Coca Cola polar bear, the Cocoa Krispies’ elephant, Tony the Tiger, and Ronald McDonald. They are accused of violating the rights of Mexican children under two principal charges: manipulating and cheating children via the publicity and marketing of their products, and introducing food and beverages that contribute to the obesity epidemic of Mexico’s children. During the arrest, officials explained the specific criminal actions of which each of these captains is accused:

  • Tony “the Tiger” falsely tells children that eating Frosted Flakes will lead to success in sports, despite the fact that 40% of the weight of the product he peddles is sugar. He is held responsible for displacing oats and amaranth from the diet of Mexican children.
  • Melvin “the Elephant” is accused of distributing Cocoa Krispies, a substance containing 35% sugar and four artificial colors, three of which are associated with hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder in children. Yet, this is the most advertised product on television.
  • Ronald McDonald, alias “the Clown,” entered Mexico in 1985. He now operates out of 400 locations in Mexico. He uses toys, images of parties and healthy, happy play to induce children to ingest high volumes of fat, salt and sugar. He has previously been fined in Brazil for his nefarious activities.
  • “Coca” the polar bear, is accused of being one of the major causes of both the obesity and diabetes epidemics facing Mexico. Each 600 ml bottle of the Coca Cola that she deals contains more than 12 TABLESPOONs of sugar. Coca’s reach has penetrated every nook and corner of the country, far and wide, and has helped make Mexico the world’s largest consumer of soda. Despite Coca’s agreement with the World Health Organization not to publicize to children under 12, she has conducted numerous campaigns aimed at that very population.

Héctor Bonilla, one of the arresting officers, stated, “The unregulated presence of multinational corporations in the food sector is truly criminal. I welcome the attempt to counter the millions and millions of dollars in publicity of these organizations, with horizontal communication and the moral authority of those who are motivated by social conscience to collaborate, rather than by economic interests. New technologies are fertile territory for cunning and the unveiling of great lies to the public.”

Such a public demonstration seems to me a great way to raise awareness among kids. Congratulations to the arresting officers! Kids, let’s get outside, breathe some fresh air, and run around! Try some new, whole foods and you’ll be surprised just how good real food can make you feel!

pzqfmruAbove is one of those photos recently circulating the internet, of a school science project that illustrates the quantity of processed white sugar in various commercially available bottled beverages.

Fruit Loops, GMO and artificial coloring