What is Doxa?
Doxa is a non-profit organization that exists to invest in those families in need located throughout greater Tijuana, Mexico by facilitating home building, providing greater access to education and after school activities for youth, and being servants of the community in East and West Tijuana. See our purpose & mission statement page for more.
What does “Doxa” mean?
Doxa is a greek word meaning glory. It is commonly heard in churches in the form of “doxology,” which means glory to God.
What is Doxa Education?
DOXA is committed to serving youth through education in Tijuana. We send 25 students each year to neighborhood schools providing tuition, medical costs, uniforms, books and sports fees. We also have an after-school tutoring program that serves the scholarship students plus additional 25 kids from the neighborhood. Each summer we host a four-week long day camp for 60 students to play, learn and have a great time. Learn more by visiting our serving opportunities page!
What is the house building project?
This is an opportunity for groups of students and adults to spend 3-7 days of their lives building two-room houses for homeless families living in the rural hills above Tijuana, Mexico and expand their understanding of social economic needs and discovering new life by giving themselves away. Learn more by visiting our serving opportunities page!
Who owns the land where we build houses?
One of the requirements for a family to receive a Doxa home is that they own the land we build on. This is important because we want to make sure the family we build with gets to keep their home. If they don’t have documents proving the land is theirs, someone can claim the land, and the new house upon it is theirs. How much then does land cost? Just as in the US, land value depends on a lot of variables. In general, though, the families we build with are currently paying about $3,000-10,000USD for their plots. Usually they pay a down payment of about $100-400USD, and then monthly payments of $75-150USD for four to six years. When we build for a family they have not necessarily finished these payments, but have begun the process.
Where are people from?
About 20% of the families are originally from Tijuana or elsewhere in Baja California. The rest have moved to Tijuana hoping for work or to escape the violence in states farther to the south. Sinaloa is the most common origin, being home to a little less than quarter of the families, and many others come from Michoacán, Jalisco, Guerrero and Puebla. Some of these families have come to Doxa immediately after arriving in Tijuana while others have lived in Tijuana for years, staying with family, renting, or living in small shelters on the land you will soon build a home on.
What do they do?
In the early years most of the people we built with lived near the Tijuana garbage dump and made their livings hunting through the garbage for materials they could sell. Today people often work in factories, work in hospitality, sell in the market, or work in basic construction.
What are we really giving when we build a house? / What impact does this have on a family?
Families readily talk of the impact their Doxa house has made. Often their first words are “We are dry when it rains now,” or the simple but powerful, “I have a key.” A house means security, warmth and space. Often families are cramming into a relatives’ house or a small structure unfit for two people, let alone six. The houses, though, offer more than shelter. For families that were previously renting the house frees up the scarce resources going towards rent so that they can go towards other needs. As recipients often recite, “It is impossible to pay for both school and rent.” Houses also allow new job opportunities. People that used to work for others are able to now work for themselves. One woman used to work in a piñata factory; now she makes them in her home and sells them herself. Another helped in the kitchen of someone who sold food on the street. With her new home she has a kitchen of her own and can sell food herself for much better margins. A third woman has sewed garments for years in another woman’s workshop; she has now brought five sewing machines into her home to begin her own workshop. Other families simply speak of how their new home gave them the encouragement and push they needed. The house you build with Doxa gives people a home but it also provides an economic opportunity. A house also allows a family to move the resources previously being spent on shelter and rent to be reallocated and spent on their child’s education. In general, a house is a spring-board that each family can use to further develop and grow, achieving more than they previously could on their own.
What happens after we leave?
When you build a house with Doxa you are usually building for more people than you see that week. With their new homes, families become attractive hosts and relatives often move in. As time goes on the family also grows through marriage and childbirth. Though you may give the house to a family of four or five, the house will likely eventually be a home to twice that number. A quarter of houses grow by five or more, and this increases to more than half for houses built fifteen years ago or earlier.
Sometimes as new family members join, others leave—a son-in-law and grandchild come as a daughter and sister leave—but often the household just grows. As more people live in the home, families need more space. Slowly, and usually once they’ve finished paying for their land, families will begin to expand their homes, adding rooms or pushing out the walls. Other families focus on finishing touches, adding drywall and tile to their homes. We encourage you to stay in direct contact with the family after building the house so you may stay up to date on these kinds of things.
Is Tijuana Safe?
Doxa’s top priority is safety for all participants throughout their entire trip. Tijuana is a large city with a population of over 2 million people that covers more than 250 square miles. With any city of that size (even in the United States) there will be some parts considered better than others. Doxa has 30+ years of experience facilitating the safe movement, stay, and volunteer work for over 25,000 people. Additionally, Doxa’s constant contact among local staff and partners, who live in the same neighborhoods that we serve, form the first line of defense against any unsafe situation arising. If, at any time, Doxa feels that an unsafe situation may arise, we will cancel and reschedule any volunteer trip without hesitation. Doxa has every intention of maintaining its spotless track record of safety.