A few weeks ago I packed by bag, drove down to San Diego and met a group of people who I would spend the weekend with in Mexico building a house and participating in community outreach programs. I only knew one other person (the trip leader Mike Sherbakov and I crossed paths in Cambodia while traveling) and I was excited to meet this new group of friends that had also said "yes!" to this opportunity.
There are so many things that I want to share about this trip, but many have asked to see more pictures and get a better understanding of the organization and work being done, so I'll start there. I personally didn't take a lot of pictures as we had a talented photographer (and performer and singer and actor and riddle-teller) Andrew Reed with us to document, and also keep us quite entertained. His full album of pictures can be found here, and below are just a few that I pulled to help tell the story of our weekend in Mexico.
After such an eye-opening and inspiring weekend, it was hard for us to pack up the van and drive back across the border to our over-abundant lives. You start thinking about what your life would have been like if you were born into a different circumstance, how these sweet children are full of joy but what will their lives look like as they grow older?
The organization that finds the families, organizes the trip, houses us, feeds us, and changes lives is called Baja Bound. The work that Diane and her team does is extraordinary. The family must own/be making payments on the plot of land to be eligible for the program. The program also recently launched their official Education Initiative which we had the pleasure of learning about and seeing first-hand how this type of support can break the cycle of poverty and illness in these communities.
Below is the the brief we received on the family who we built the house for. Another crew came in the weekend after us to build them a second house just a few feet away to accommodate such a large family -
These three women: Juana, Porfiria and Petra, are representatives of a family that speaks Mixteco. None of the three speak Spanish, and they told their family history through a translator.
The family lived in Oaxaca, harvesting corn and beans. The three count on each other a lot; they support each other taking turns working and caring for the children. There are nineteen family members, not counting husbands. The husbands are currently serving a three year period of community service as traditional authorities in Oaxaca. They must serve their village for three years. After that, they plan to come to Ensenada to joins their wives and children, because of the grave poverty and lack of jobs, but at the moment they can’t abandon the responsibility that they have been given by the authorities. (It’s some kind of a tradition; I can’t really translate it well). Every child that is school-age is in school, and the mothers take turns working and caring for the children. At this time, work is scarce.
They have been living here for two years. They have a plot of land that they have almost finished paying off. However, right now they are renting a little house in the area in which they work. It only has two rooms, and they sleep on blankets they spread out on the floor. They have one bed, outside covered with a tarp, (no walls); it is used by the eldest woman (Juana) ad some of her grandchildren. The “kitchen” is a grill over an open wood fire. They haven’t been able to build any type of structure on the land they own, due to lack of money. Wooden walls are very expensive and they can barely meet daily expenses.
I'll be sharing more about this trip, these people and the spark it reignited within me, but for now I encourage you to simply say "yes" because you never know who you'll meet and where it will take you.