Doxa creates opportunities for people to serve Tijuana through
house building, education, and long-term community.
The vast majority of people experience and come to know Doxa through house building. For over 30 years, Doxa has facilitated the building of about 2300 houses throughout Tijuana resulting in safe and secure housing for over 11,000 people! Nearly 35,000 people from the US have participated in house building trips, some returning multiple times. God has truly magnified this simple experience to be much more than anyone could’ve realized.
Teams from the US come to Tijuana and discover new life by giving themselves away and being witness to others doing the same. It’s a powerful experience. For most participants, being a part of a house building trip means having a role in extraordinary generosity, most likely on a scale that they haven’t seen before. How often does one get to tangibly partake in building and giving a house away? It’s an eye-opening, horizon-broadening experience with impacts that last a lifetime. Not only are the trip participants impacted, but also the family members who now have a new house. Lives changed forever.
Doxa’s primary role in house building has been as facilitator: preparing groups from the US and families in Tijuana, readying building materials, connecting groups with local staff and partners, and providing trip support. Most groups utilize the experience as a tool or platform, such as for youth ministry or the development of volunteer teams. The common denominator among all groups is that the house is not the only thing that gets built.
Finishing a house in Tijuana requires sharing and participating in a vision, planning, logistics, digging, cement mixing, framing, painting, roofing, window and door installation, cooking, communication in Spanish, and cross-cultural relationship formation. All skill sets have their time to shine. It’s an experience that helps young people make meaningful and lasting contributions in today’s world. All receive the powerful yet simple message that young people don’t need to wait or ‘grow-up’ in order to engage in significant work.
A couple years ago, Elizabeth, Doxa’s Director of Operations, had the idea of providing this same house building experience to Doxa’s high school students. She saw first-hand the impact of this experience and wanted the same for Doxa’s students. In addition to being part of an experience in radical generosity, Elizabeth notes that Doxa’s students “learn to value what they have and appreciate a hard day’s work; coming home tired after working a full day like their parents.” She also talks about commitment, “finishing what you start is an important value that we can instill in our children, especially when things get hard and you have to work in teams.”
Like groups from the US, Doxa’s high school students get opportunities to nail, paint, measure, cut, and build the house. Elizabeth sees these learning opportunities as building blocks for Doxa’s high school students that prepare them for something more in their lives. The house build is led by our committed and experienced Flavio Camacho. He leads by example with dedicated workmanship and teaches the students how to build each day. Doxa’s Spanish building manual also comes in handy. When construction is complete, it all culminates with turning over the new house and its keys to the family.
This experience, furthermore, comes full circle for some of Doxa’s high school students as their families were recipients of a Doxa house years ago. Now it is their turn to be on the other side of the experience.
For the past two years, Doxa’s high school students have had the privilege of building a house over their summer break. One of Doxa’s students, Brigitt shares that a “house changes lives for the better and gives me some perspective to really value what I have.” She continues to say that “to help others makes me feel good, to see peoples’ lives improving. You never know when you are going to need help.” Another one of Doxa’s students, Angel remembers “the sacrifice that the family was making for their new house and the poor conditions that they lived in before.” He goes on to describe that “teamwork makes the job easier and that everyone on the team has their own strengths.” Still, another Doxa student, Veronica learned “to value my house, what my mom did for me. Especially after seeing how the family valued and appreciated us on the worksite.”
Elizabeth sees the house building experience as life-changing for Doxa’s high school students and would love to incorporate it as a permanent annual experience that Doxa can offer. Elizabeth notes that “it’s a mission trip for Doxa’s high school youth located within their very own city.” Just as this simple experience of building a house has been so impactful for nearly 35,000 people from the US, it has been and will continue to be impactful for Doxa’s high school students.
Today is Giving Tuesday and also the launch of Doxa’s 3rd Annual December Matching Campaign. This year, we’ll be showcasing a couple projects and some personal impact stories from both locations: East and West Tijuana.
First is funding a house build by Doxa’s high school students. For over 30 years, Doxa has helped facilitate life-transforming house builds for high schoolers that come to Tijuana from all over the US. Now, it’s time to provide this same experience for Doxa’s high school students in Tijuana. Learning how to build, work together, and give themselves away. A horizon-broadening experience in their very own city.
Second, we’ll showcase some stories of family growth. A side effect of Doxa’s education and community programs that operate throughout the year. We’ve seen family dynamics completely change for the better, just through involving the entire family in Doxa’s ecosystem. Likewise, these families have been so gracious in allowing Doxa into their homes, lives, and relationships.
Third is funding a new Soup Kitchen out of Unidos por Siempre. Maria and Angeles, who lead Doxa’s education program in East Tijuana, have seen access to nourishing and healthy food become a top priority in their area. The Soup Kitchen opened last month and is proving to be an excellent complement to the after-school program, which already operates there.
And finally, it’s hard to believe, but Doxa’s education program is now in its 17th year! Doxa has been a place where some students have practically grown up with us. We’ll highlight a few of their stories and takeaways from these long-term relationships.
Doxa’s board of directors has generously pledged $40,000 in matching funds, so all donations up to that amount will be doubled through the end of the year.
Over the next month, we invite you to follow along as we take a deeper dive into each of these projects and impact stories. We’ll focus on one each week. Please also consider donating before year’s end to double your financial impact. Muchas gracias!
Araceli and her 7-year-old daughter are dressed up in Christmas clothes, coming from a school Christmas recital. Araceli’s 1st grader sang in front of the entire school this year, which she so much enjoys. Araceli smiles with joy as she recounts the performance and shows pride in her daughter.
Araceli grew up in Tijuana, spending almost her entire life in the neighborhood of Pedregal de Santa Julia. She is the third of six kids, who grew up at Hogar de los Niños orphanage. She recounts that her family was the orphanage, as she never knew anything else. Some of her siblings still live there all these years later. She talks about the orphanage with a heart full of gratitude. Hogar de los Niños filled a void for her, not just one of physical needs with food and clothes, but also the necessary intangibles of love, growing up with family, and role models.
Rosa and Eduvigues, who worked in the orphanage, practically became her parents. Rosa taught her to read, write, and memorize math tables. Araceli recounts that she was never really a good student, but always tried hard and Rosa did see value in that. Araceli gets emotional when talking about Rosa, as she passed away a couple years ago. Rosa left a strong impression on her that she still carries with her to this day. Perhaps that’s where her strong work ethic came from.
What Araceli lacked in study skills, she made up for with her love of physical activity, exercise, and spirit of determination. Putting all that together led her to open a neighborhood Zumba studio. Not bad for someone who didn’t finish middle school. She operated the Zumba studio for years, teaching many in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, she had to close that business due to the pandemic, but her entrepreneurial spirit kicked in again as she went back to school to be a masseuse.
Araceli shares that she wants to open her own Zumba and spa business once her house is built. She already has it planned out, where the house will be on one side of her property and the other will be dedicated to studio and spa. She hopes rent payments for housing and business space will finally be a thing of the past.
When talking about her daughter, Araceli’s face starts to brighten up. She says she wants to impart humility, a good work ethic, and persistence onto her young daughter. All qualities that have served her well throughout her life. Araceli also shares of a deep desire to break the cycle of family trauma, specifically of absent biological parents. She starts to get emotional again when explaining her motivation to be an active and present parent in her daughter’s life. Wanting her daughter to have access to family in all its fullness.
Taking a moment to reflect on her life, Araceli says that she’s learned to recognize when things change, it is always for the better. Even when it doesn’t seem like it at the time, change brings opportunity. Whether its leaving Hogar de los Niños, starting a new business, becoming a mother, or dealing with a pandemic. She shares that each stage in life should be used as a step that leads to bigger and better things. Moving on before dependence and complacency have a chance to creep into the picture. Better days are always ahead for Araceli.
In hearing how Araceli describes change in her life, I can’t help but think of her on the waiting list for a Doxa house. How a house will be another big change in her life and how it will fulfill a need that will help catapult her and her daughter to better things.
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