Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"This house will make a very big difference in my life! I used to worry all the time that my house would fall down on my children. Now I will have peace -- because I know that won't happen.... God has sent you in answer to my prayers." -Celia, a middle-aged mother of seven

Utilizing all volunteer labor, Project Mexico builds solid stucco homes with concrete floors for the poorest families in Tijuana, Mexico. Trip participants pay a fee which is used to purchase building materials and food for the workers. Recipient families are chosen by local clergy and community leaders who are familiar with and can verify their circumstances. Many of these families are part of the greatest migration in history -- rural Third World peasants moving to the cities. City planners estimate that thirty to forty families from Mexico's interior settle in Tijuana daily. Authorities state that this influx is occurring so rapidly they are unable to keep accurate population figures. Nearly 14% of the world (i.e. one of every seven people) lives in these squatter settlements where electricity and indoor plumbing are non-existent.

Low-cost government land is available only if the family lives on it. Families often spend all they have to purchase the land, leaving nothing for construction. This results in hastily constructed shanties made of cardboard, tin, or whatever supplies can be salvaged. These shelters are rarely adequate as evidenced by the numerous children who die each winter from cold and exposure.

In 1988, our goal was simply to help some of these struggling families make a better life for themselves by providing them with secure, safe, permanent homes. Now, well over one hundred families have been blessed with a safe and solid home while over 6,900 young people have given of themselves in a hands-on way. With a concrete floor, solid walls and roof, warm interior, and locking door which a Project Mexico home provides, the family's situation is given a quantum leap forward.

Home Building Q&A

Why Mexico?

Working in Mexico offers a unique environment for spiritual growth and a time to experience God's blessings. Each person involved has an opportunity to give to others in a special way -- serving those who can only repay with sincere gratitude. Participants bring back a memorable experience and youth and adults have a chance to evaluate their values and receive a new perspective on life.

How is this done?

Each participant pays a fee for materials which are purchased in Mexico and delivered to the work site. All tools are provided by Project Mexico and no power tools are used, so the work site is very safe. A trained supervisor works with the groups to teach and manage the actual construction of the house. Construction experience is not necessary at all. Our best workers are usually those with the biggest hearts and a sense of adventure!

Is it all work?

While hard work is involved, there is also plenty of time to meet and talk with the local people who are usually very curious and most gracious. The children love to play and sing and always hate to see the group leave at the end of the day. Work trips range from one day to one week. Those who are staying in Mexico are housed at St. Innocent Orphanage which allows time to get to know the boys there by sharing meals and playing volleyball, basketball, and the boys' favorite - soccer.

How can I take part in a work trip to Mexico?

There are two ways to be involved -- as a group or as an individual. You may schedule a trip just for your group or join with another group. You may also reserve a place for yourself on one of our already scheduled trips.

What age groups can participate?

All ages may take part with the following restrictions: adults are always welcome; high shoolers may attend with a release form and an adult leader; junior highers and children may attend with their parents. I'm interested but I have lots of questions! Please request an information packet and after reviewing it, feel free to call us with any remaining questions. We can also put you in touch with previous participants.

Work Trips

Shown below is the step-by-step process that takes place when a Project Mexico home is built.

A Firm Foundation - leveling the site, mixing the concrete, smoothing it into place.
The hardest day - but our young people do it with gusto and joy. A Solid Structure - the walls go up. Thirty people sawing and nailing all day long until... the walls are put in place and everyone is full of joy and amazement to see what they have done.
The Roof Goes On - an exciting moment as the home takes shape. It's for real - we are actually building a house! Now we must add windows and doors, roofing, and stucco.
Protection from the Elements - the stucco is mixed and applied to form a hard shell - like icing a giant cake only much, much better! This will soon be the home of a very special family.
The Blessing Ð This is often the most moving part of a home-building trip. When the home is completed, the family gathers with the work trip participants and priest for the house blessing: ÒO Lord, keep safe from harm those who dwell here...Grant all their petitions that are for their salvation and eternal lifeÉÓ The family is presented with the key to their home, along with a Bible and icon. The family is overwhelmed with the generosity that has been bestowed on them. The selfless example that is set by the work group often encourages the family to reach out and help others as they are able.

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