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.