The place where the idea of PCI was born, formerly known as 'Casa de Todos' is now a primary school in Tijuana

The place where the idea of PCI was born, formerly known as ‘Casa de Todos’ is now a primary school in Tijuana

The dictionary defines Legacy as “something handed down by an ancestor or by a predecessor from one’s past. A legacy isn’t just an inanimate object. It can also be a talent or a love from something.” I recently had a chance and privilege to join our founder, Dr. Jim Turpin, on a trip to Tijuana, Mexico, along with another staff member and a few of Dr. Turpin’s and PCI’s long time friends.

As Dr. Turpin explained, ‘the idea of PCI was born in Tijuana, in a remote community fifty-four years ago’ when he was invited by a friend of his to visit Tijuana and support a local school and community clinic called ‘Casa de Todos’ – a home for all; in Casa de Todos, Dr. Turpin had a chance to meet Sra. Maria Meza, who was running the Casa at the time. By providing him with an opportunity to connect with those in need, she helped him feel connected with humanity at a deeper level, with communities all over the world in ways he wasn’t expecting. He felt then, he says, relevant. It was then and there that the idea of PCI was born.

After Tijuana, Dr. Turpin quit his private practice in Coronado and moved to Hong Kong, where PCI officially started. Today, PCI works in 16 different countries providing services to over 6 Million people annually as of last year.

But as much as PCI has grown, expanded to several countries, and become a high-quality technical, sophisticated, innovative organization, it has always remained true to its roots -to the philosophy of helping people help themselves, of working with and for communities, of going to where the most vulnerable are, and providing them with knowledge and tools they need to lead healthier, fuller, even happier lives.

During the visit to Tijuana this week, we had a chance to visit what is now a local primary school (formerly known as Casa de Todos). We visited the Hospital PCI built in the early seventies (originally a maternal and child hospital, and now a hospital for families that is run by the Baja California’s state government). We had a chance to connect with staff members at the hospital including one who was born at the Casa de Todos, and whose father worked for PCI back in the day.

Dr. Turpin with our health volunteers

Dr. Turpin with our health volunteers

Dr. Turpin also met with 21 of PCI Mexico’s current volunteer health workers, some of whom have volunteered their services for over 34 years, and younger ones who have been volunteering for about 15 years. They talked about having been transformed by PCI, feeling a deep sense of connection with the organization, its people, its philosophy and of course, the communities they serve.

Since 1985, volunteer health workers have helped PCI run a program in nine of Tijuana’s most vulnerable communities. The program is called Well Baby Clinic (WBC) and is directed to children under five years of age and their families. The WBC provides nutrition counseling and information, and in coordination with the Mexican ministry of health, provides vaccinations against the most common childhood diseases, to community children who otherwise would struggle to receive them on a timely manner.

The support for PCI’s legacy in country is received in multiple forms. In addition to long time friends of PCI, and the wonderful work of the volunteer health workers, we recently secured small funding commitments from local business people in Tijuana to support WBC services from 2013-2016; additionally, PCI just learned that a two-year request to the Medtronic Foundation has been approved and will help support WBC services in these nine communities from 2013 to 2015.

But above all, the idea of PCI, the belief that people want to do better for themselves and their communities remains an essential part of our work –this is our legacy; and it is in fact what motivates us to partner and collaborate with individuals, families, communities and organizations around the world to help those most vulnerable.

To all of you who support PCI’s work one way or another, thank you very much for helping us sustain our legacy.