MMI in Mexico
MMI’s work in Mexico began in the 1970’s. Apart from the 1 and 2-week projects taking place, MMI has been able to support the development of four Health Centers committed to serve those living in poverty in Mexico. The Health Center in Montemorelos has a vibrant residency and fellowship training program, sending ophthalmologists to many countries of the world.
In past years, Juan Carlos Pedraza has been involved in project leadership, predominantly in Mexico. He has been helping to move our project work into other areas of medicine, such as dentistry and general surgery.
Dan Copeland has over 20 years of experience with MMI in Dominican Republic, Haiti, Guatemala, Ethiopia, and Mexico. Dan has been living in Chiapas since 2009, helping to launch new 1 and 2-week projects in the south of Mexico.
Montemorelos is a city and surrounding municipality of 53,854 inhabitants. It is located in the Northern Mexican state of Nuevo León, in the valley of the Pilon River. It was named after its founder. In 1637, Governor Martín de Zavala promised a large tract of land in central Nuevo León to Captain Alonso de León on condition that in less than a year, a colonial settlement would be built and populated inside its borders. De León distributed the estate to his children, and one of them, Alonso de León González ("The younger"), established his property in the northern banks of the Pilón. The settlement grew rapidly and soon the residents requested that a church could be built and dedicated to St Matthew.
Montemorelos is considered as the orchard of the State of Nuevo León for its fertile lands and growth of fruits and grains. Due to its quality of its citruses, the city of Montemorelos is called the Orange Capital. In addition, it also cultivates grapefruits, tangerines, sorghum, maize, gleans, and beans.
* Project Description: The projects take place in Montemorelos, Nuevo León at Instituto de la Vision at the University of Montemorelos. Montemorelos is located 40 min from Monterrey, which is the 3rd largest city in Mexico. Approximately 90% of the population of Nuevo Leon lives in Monterrey and the metropolitan area. Many people want to live in the city to pursue an opportunity for a better job. Medical services are quite expensive: for example, a Cataract Surgery costs approximately $1,900 USD, making it impossible for many to afford.
407 m (1,338 ft.)
Humid and cold with an average high of 22°C (71.6°F) and low around 7°C (44°F).
June - High 34°C (94°F), Low 22°C (71°F).
San Cristóbal de las Casas is a town and municipality located in the Central Highlands region of the Mexican state of Chiapas. It was the capital of the state until 1892, and is still considered the cultural capital of Chiapas.
The municipality is mostly made up of mountainous terrain, but the city sits in a small valley surrounded by hills. The city center maintains its Spanish colonial layout and much of its architecture with red tile roofs, cobblestone streets, and wrought iron balconies often laiden with flowers. Most of the city’s economy is based on commerce, services, and tourism. Tourism is based on the city’s history, culture, and indigenous population.
Major landmarks of the city include the Cathedral, the Santo Domingo church with its large open air crafts market, and the Casa Na Bolom museum. The municipality also has natural attractions such as caves and rivers.
* Project Description: The MMI teams provide cataract surgeries and optometry to help the municipality deal with the need for vision services. We are based in the city of San Cristibal, a central hub for many communities living with poverty.
2,134 m (7,001 ft.)
The average temperature for June is a high of 22°C (72°F) and a low of 14°C (57°F).
Pueblo Nuevo (Comitan)
Comitán is the fourth-largest city in the Mexican state of Chiapas. It is the seat of government of the municipality of the same name. It is located in the east-central part of Chiapas, near the Guatemalan border. The municipality has an area of 1,043.30 km² (402.82 sq mi). Its largest other community is the town of Villahermosa Yalumá.
Comitán is also a popular tourist destination, mostly for Mexican nationals, though some foreign visitors can also be seen. The town possesses colonial architecture, narrow avenues, and clean streets. The climate is cool most of the year, and can get quite chilly from October to March.
* Project Description: Projects are held in Pueblo Nuevo Solistahuacán, Chiapas, where we offer Dental, Optical, and Medical services. We try to address the needs of the community alongside local physicians and volunteers. We also serve in the surrounding communities in need.
1602 m (5256 ft)
The average temperature is around 24°C (75°F) and average annual rainfall is 890 mm (35 in).
Most rainfall (rainy season) is seen in June, July, August, September and October.
Dry periods in January, February, March and December.
MONTEMORELOS, MEXICO SUPPORT TEAM
Travelling on a Project
Entry & Exit Requirements
Most MMI participants travel with a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of departure. Proof of return or onward travel is required. Tourist visa is not required. A tourist card is provided by airlines or at points of entry. Mexican authorities impose a tourism tax of approximately $20 USD, normally included in airline ticket prices.
• Americans: Must present a passport, which is valid at time of entry. For more information see the US State Department website:
• Canadians: Must present a passport, that is valid through the date of expected departure from Mexico. Please check the following website for the most current entry/exit requirements:
• International: Please contact MMI office or Raptim Humanitarian Travel for visa requirement if needed.
Please email ALL CREDENTIALS upon application.
• For everyone, we need:
- Colour Scan / Photocopy of Passport (photo page)
- Colour photo for your name badge (any good photo, we can adjust size)
- Travel Itinerary
- Supply Lists
• Medical Professionals, we also need your:
- Current License (through time of project)
- Diploma (Techs, Nursing, Dental, MD and Board Certifications)
- Curriculum Vitae or Resume (this also will help the Project Director know your skills & experience to assign you a task on the project, especially for 1st time participants)
• Health Care Students: Letter of Good Standing from your school (including year of study and graduation date).
• All MINORS travelling with only one parent, or without their parents, will need a letter from BOTH parents stating that it is OK for the child to travel with one parent or an appointed guardian. The letter should be signed and notarized. MMI needs a copy of this letter, and the parent or guardian should carry the orignial letter while travelling.
Once you have been accepted on the project, you can contact our designated travel agency to arrange your travel and coordinate your arrival the team.
Raptim Humanitarian Travel: www.raptim.org
• US Applicants: Travel costs are arranged directly with the travel agent and are in addition to the Participant Project Donation.
Contact our “Serve Team 2”: ServeTeam2.firstname.lastname@example.org
Direct Toll Free: 1-844-882-3233 and ask for the agents by name or extension.
Lead Agents – Claudia (ext. 13302), or Michael (ext. 15004).
• Canadian Applicants: Donations to MMI for travel are in addition to the Participant Project Donation.
Contact our “We Partner” team: email@example.com
905-465-4300 or Toll Free: 1-844-442-6978 & ask for the agents by name.
Lead Agents - Anca (ext. 32327), or Connie (ext. 31771).
• International Applicants: Travel arrangement can be procured locally or following the Canadian instructions above.
We strongly recommend that you consult a travel clinic, as they are aware of outbreaks and can suggest preventative immunizations. All routine immunizations should be up-to-date. Please check the following website for the most current information.
• Americans: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/mexico
• Canadians: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/tmp-pmv/countries-pays/country-pays-eng.php?id=345
Accommodations and Meals
MMI will arrange local accommodations for the team.
• Laundry Service: usually available for additional fee
• AC: dependent on location
• Phone Service: check with your cell phone provider, roaming is very expensive
• Wifi/Internet: dependent on locations
• Voltage: 110V.
• Meals: MMI will provide meals for the team. Dietary restrictions can be indicated on your application and we will do our best to accommodate your needs. Be sure to bring your own re-usable water bottle with a wide mouth for refilling. Purified water is supplied. If you would like to bring snacks to have throughout the day, please bring items such as peanut butter, granola bars, trail mix or pretzels and crackers in sealable containers (like Ziploc bags).
• Language: Spanish and indigenous languages
- Roman Catholic: 82.7%
- Pentecostal: 1.6%
- Jehovah's Witnesses: 1.4%
- Evangelical Churches: 5%
- Others: 1.9%
• Government: Federal Presidential Republic
The money in Mexico is called the Mexican peso (MXN). MMI staff will help you exchange money. All major credit cards are accepted - Visa and MasterCard the most widely accepted (make sure to call your credit card company and let them know that you’ll be traveling internationally). Traveler’s cheques are not easily cashed. You must bring US dollars in good condition. Torn, stamped or old bills will not be exchanged. $100 bills older than 2006 are also not accepted.
The Aztecs were a highly developed, rich Mexican civilization. Their elegant capital city, Tenochtitlan, may have been the largest city in the world in the early 1500s. In 1519, the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes landed in Mexico. He was amazed by the Aztec civilization and its gold. The Aztecs welcomed these pale visitors as gods, but the Spanish were more interested in the Aztecs' wealth. After two years of struggles, Spanish fighters captured Tenochtitlan and burned it to the ground. Then they built Mexico City on its ruins. Today, Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world. Mexico remained under Spanish control until a long struggle ended in Mexico's declaration of independence in 1821.
Most of Mexico's people today are mestizos — people who have both Indigenous and Spanish ancestors. About 90 percent of Mexicans are Roman Catholic. Mexico has many beautiful churches and shrines, and people mark special days with colorful religious festivals. Mexico has a strong culture and traditions, and its people have worked to make its democracy stronger. The country has rich reserves of oil that were discovered in 1972. There are a lot of people living in poverty, as well as many who are middle-class. Many people have left the harsh poverty of Mexico's countryside to move into its crowded cities.
North America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, between Belize and the United States and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and the United States.
23 00 N, 102 00 W
Belize 276 km
Guatemala 958 km
US 3,155 km
12 nautical miles
Tropical along coast and eastern plains; cooler in highlands
High, rugged mountains; low coastal plains; high plateaus; desert
Laguna Salada - 10 m
Volcan Pico de Orizaba - 5,675 m