Doxa creates opportunities for people to serve Tijuana through
house building, education, and long-term community.

Update on Doxa’s COVID-19 Response

The deeper we get into 2020, our experience continues to look different than what we all had expected. Doxa has used this crisis-filled time for prayer, evaluation, and innovation. To revisit the ways by which we carry out our mission. Even though it may look a little different, Doxa continues to create impact through house building, education, and community.

For house building, this has meant creating and employing local building teams to construct homes. Many groups and individuals have financially supported the building of houses during this time. It has not only resulted in houses still being built, but also in increased employment opportunities for a community that is experiencing layoffs and reductions in working hours. This “new” way of building houses has opened up an opportunity that Doxa has never seen before. It may also be something that becomes a permanent fixture within Doxa, even after this season of crisis passes.

For education, we have equipped students for distance learning. Instead of investing in school uniforms, Doxa equipped those students to learn from home with laptops and Internet access. Tutors from Doxa’s after-school program also continued to check-in with students and families through WhatsApp or phone calls. Now that the 2019-2020 school year is finished, we have several weeks to catch our breath, strategize, and plan for what Tijuana schools will do next. One thing that we do believe is that there will be an increase in scholarship applicants for the 2020-2021 school year.

For community, we have had to stop all activities and the dance group practices. While we hope to continue those soon, we recognize that safety and health take precedence. For Doxa’s annual summer camp, which routinely draws over 100 children and adults, we have had to delay and augment its implementation. We are planning for a shortened camp, limiting numbers of kids, instigating increased health and sanitizing procedures, and conducting mainly outdoor activities. One of the major needs that summer camp will address is school review. Many students did not absorb or retain the same amount of school lessons as they normally would have.

Back in March, as shelter in place orders were starting to occur around the world, Doxa undertook a spring fundraising campaign. Those goals were to fund 22 houses, raise $7500 for Hogar de los Niños orphanage, and raise $15000 for Unidos por Siempre orphanage. We have been completely blown away as you have helped to exceed these goals. Thank you so much for your generosity! 22 houses have been funded, over $8000 raised for Hogar de los Niños, and over $15000 raised for Unidos por Siempre. A grand total of $164,705 for Tijuana! We can’t thank you all enough for this outpouring of support!

As we transition into summer, the effects of COVID-19 have lasted longer than we originally anticipated. We had thought groups were going to be able to travel again to Tijuana and build houses, school planning would be back to normal, and summer camp would be the joyous laughter-filled time that everyone looks forward to. In the wake of prolonged COVID-19 impacts, this has left even more families without the prospect of a new house. The cost of access to education increases with laptops and Internet requirements. While we are still planning on summer camp, it definitely will look different.

In order to respond to these continued needs, Doxa’s goals for this summer and fall are to fund the building of 20 houses, 50 education scholarships, and $2500 for a modified summer camp. There has already been awesome progress on these new goals!

If you would like to support, donations can be made through Doxa’s secure website and we also have an Amazon List setup for school supplies.

We are so thankful for your prayers and support during this time. It has been breathtaking to see the larger community moved into action, on both sides of the border.

How is a family selected to receive a house?

All families that end up receiving a house from Doxa must go through an application process. This process has been the product of many years of experience and, to some extent, trial and error. Since 1990, it has been Doxa’s privilege to be part of building over 2000 houses all over Tijuana. This magnitude of work, however, has also necessitated an application process that ensures only qualified families receive a house.

Rosa and Maria work on the western and eastern sides of Tijuana, respectively, to process family applications. All families follow the same process:

  1. The family makes initial contact with Rosa or Maria and fills out an application form with basic information (names, contact info, employment, financial info, family history, location of land for the house).
  2. The family submits various documents: IDs of all adults who will live in the house, birth certificates for the kids, proof of land ownership, employment/school records, and other documents as required. Doxa has learned the importance of requiring land ownership. If the recipient family does not own the plot of land, then they can soon lose their new home to a formerly absent landowner.
  3. Rosa or Maria interviews the family, reviews all of their information, and begins to understand why they are applying for a house. Sometimes a site visit of the family’s current living situation is needed, other times not. Rosa or Maria typically make a determination as to whether the family is approved. If a family falls into a gray area and they are not sure if a family should be approved, then we discuss that family among everyone to make a final determination together. Most families that apply for a house successfully end up receiving one.
  4. If approved, the family moves on to complete 120 hours of volunteer service. This is usually to a partner orphanage, but could also be to other local organizations. Rosa and Maria try to find a natural fit for any skills that the family has. For example, if the husband in the family knows how to weld, then maybe there’s some metalwork that needs to get completed. Likewise, if the wife in the family is an excellent cook, then perhaps she’ll dedicate some time to cooking for the orphanage. It’s all dependent upon the current needs of the community and the skills of the family.
  5. Rosa or Maria conduct a site visit of the family’s land. They counsel the family about what work, if any, needs to be done to the land to adequately prepare it for a Doxa house. Some families have nothing to do while others have to move entire hillsides or take down their current living structure to make room.
  6. The family goes on the wait list. We typically get to families within a year, but there are some cases where they wait longer. During this time is also when the family is responsible for preparing their land.
  7. Sand, gravel, and water (if no running water available) are delivered to the family’s land a couple days before the volunteer group is scheduled to begin.

This process ensures qualified families receive houses and are good stewards of the home after the volunteer group leaves Tijuana. On return trips, we encourage groups to visit their old building sites, reconnect with the family, and see how they have turned the house into a home.

Meet Sam, long-term volunteer in Tijuana

Hi, my name is Sam. I’m 19, I live in Spokane, and this past year I was lucky enough to spend 9 months in Mexico, volunteering with Doxa. I had worked with Doxa twice before during high school, going with my youth group. Those weeks were spent learning about Mexico and how different the culture was. I remember being amazed by how happy people could be with so much less than what I had. That very well may be the only lesson I really remember from those trips, frankly I was a pretty self-centered high schooler and didn’t really think too hard about it. But that one lesson sat in my head for a long time and in November of 2018 I decided to act on it and go down to Mexico right after high school.

Sam and his Dad

When I first arrived in San Diego, Alex took me over the border and helped me move in to Hogar de los Niños. He introduced me to Carmen, the director, and then said something along the lines of “Okay, you have my number. Give me a call if you need anything. See you later.” This was the moment when I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore (or a high school in suburban Spokane for that matter.) The following three-month period was quite possibly the hardest time of my life. I was unsure as of where I fit in the culture and struggled to communicate my most basic thoughts. Largely cut off from the support system I had built in Spokane, I was forced to go against my own introversion to varied levels of success. Poor communication skills continued to be a theme right up until my abrupt end in March due to COVID. I got to learn a lot about the lives of the people in Tijuana and how different the city is on the east and west sides. I got to work with orphanage staff and play with kids. Some of my favorite memories are from nightly fútbol games on the helipad at Hogar de los Niños. But weirdly enough, I learned the most working with the various American groups that I served alongside. From high school youth groups to some crazy geezers from Seattle’s U-District, every group had a whole slew of stories from their casts. Every story I heard different and interesting but somehow leading to them coming to serve in Mexico.   This led me to realize that my life isn’t about me. It’s about everyone else. It’s about how I can help a group have a better experience. How the houses I helped build will affect the family I built them with. How my actions factor into other people’s lives and wellbeing.

Sam with U-District Group (top right)

I went down to Mexico to give myself away. Maybe in the name of God or maybe just to run away from my problems. It doesn’t matter. What ended up happening was the most enriching experience of my life. I’ve become much more confident in not only my own abilities but in who I am as a person. I also learned from day 1 that silence is something I take for granted. Considering Hogar de los Niños was almost entirely composed of concrete rectangles, complete silence is something I’ve REALLY come to appreciate. All throughout my schooling I was taught that if I didn’t get good grades and go to a good college then I’d be a total failure in life. Schools fail to tell students that there are other options that are just as good if not better for you than the pursuit of money in a capitalist society just to improve yourself. My time in Mexico flipped that on its head.

If you want to know more about my experience, I’d be more than happy to tell you about it.

Shoot me an email at ssaito23@comcast.net. I’m an open book.

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