María Pilar de Abiega Sauto
Fellow Since 2008
COMPARTE (Comunidad Participativa Tepito, AC)
This profile was prepared when María Pilar de Abiega Sauto was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
María Pilar founded and developed Comunidad Participativa de Tepito (COMPARTE) or Participatory Community of Tepito, as an alternative model of elderly care that allows senior citizens to remain in their homes or in places where they can continue to develop their skills, life projects, and dreams, while feeling useful and loved. In COMPARTE, many seniors come to realize that life is still worth living, they still have something to contribute to their communities, and they have a support network in the final years of their lives. COMPARTE acts as a surrogate family for the many elderly people in Mexico City who find themselves alone or abandoned. Unlike the traditional nursing home model, which often treats elderly residents like hospital patients, María Pilar’s COMPARTE model allows elderly Mexicans to continue living at home or in their own neighborhoods and, depending on their abilities, to play an active role as caregivers for their less able-bodied companions or to receive that care from their peers. Besides her active role in the daily operations of COMPARTE, María Pilar is a vocal advocate for senior rights at the municipal, state, and federal levels of Mexican government through her membership on various advisory bodies. She has taken advantage of these forums to convince other citizen organizations and government agencies that deal with senior citizen affairs to adopt aspects of COMPARTE; thus, laying the foundations for the replication of her model throughout Mexico.