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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.

What is Doxa Education?

Started in 2007, as a natural extension and reflection of relationships created through house building, Doxa’s education program provides scholarships and resources to children in Tijuana. We target the same neighborhoods in which we have built houses, thus reflecting the natural progression of shelter being a primary need and education coming next. In the long-run, education empowers youth to break the cycle and mindset of poverty which is so prevalent in Tijuana.

Doxa’s scholarship program meets children on a holistic level, taking an individualized approach to the success of each student. Entering into relationship with their family, journeying along with them, and sharing the successes and failures along the way. This intimate knowledge helps guide exactly what resources and assistance the student needs to be successful. Doxa scholarships work through two main avenues:

  • Relationally equip kids to succeed. This entails surrounding kids with competent tutors and coaching their parents to be a positive voice when to comes to education. In Mexico, school is only half-day so there can be a lack of discipline and mentorship around homework time.
  • Materially equip kids to succeed. This entails the required school tuition fees, uniforms, shoes, backpacks, school supplies, transportation, access to computers and Internet, and glasses (you’d be surprised by how many kids don’t know they need them). Having the basic necessities affords kids greater opportunity to succeed.

With kids relationally and materially equipped to succeed, they can dedicate more of their effort to their studies and be effectively supported when times get tough.

Additionally, Doxa operates an after-school program. This provides a natural conduit for ongoing communication and a place for homework to be completed. As most schools in Mexico are only half-day, the after-school program fills the niche of the other half while most parents work a full day. The after-school program not only affords the resources, tutors, and space for homework completion, it also provides a safe, respectful, and disciplined atmosphere for young students to grow in community.

Local school teachers have even been known to recommend that their students who need a little extra help attend Doxa’s after-school program. This allows for more individualized and specialized teaching, that the public schools can not always offer.

Schools in Tijuana have been impacted due to the effects of COVID-19. Schools have been closed for the past several months, some efforts were made regarding distance learning, and now administrators are assessing options for next school year. Regardless of what instructional format they decide, learning will occur and Doxa is ready to equip its students to be active participants in that process.

In the 2019-2020 school year, Doxa’s education program sponsored 140 students. Transitioning into the 2020-2021 school year, we believe there will be an increase in scholarship applications due to the COVID-19 economic downturn that Tijuana is experiencing. Our summer fundraising goal is 50 new scholarships and we’ve already got 16 funded! Would you consider joining us?

If you are interested in supporting Doxa’s scholarship work in Tijuana there are two ways to help: 

  • Consider giving monthly towards the sponsorship of a child. There are varying levels of sponsorship and more information can be found here.
  • Consider providing school supplies from Doxa’s Amazon List. Pick out your favorite items and provide some of the necessary supplies that these kids need to succeed.

Staff Spotlight: Ely Martinez Salgado

If you haven’t met Ely yet, here’s your chance! She is Doxa’s administrator. Her words and interview below have been translated from Spanish to English.

My name is Elizabeth, but everyone calls me Ely. I’m originally from Morelia, but have lived in Tijuana for almost my entire life. For 12 years I volunteered with World Vision and learned a great deal from that experience. I’ve currently been working 6 years with Doxa and originally came to know Doxa through my son Angel. He was in 2nd grade and needed some more structure around his school work, so I went to inquire about helpful resources. One of my strengths is organization and administration, so Rosa and I make a great team! I’m a fast learner and believe that everyone goes to school to get straight A’s. If we’re not shooting for the best, then why are we here?!?! I strive to be a great mother to my 4 kids, providing the encouragement and love that they need to succeed in their own lives.

From left to right: Jesus, Ely’s mother-in-law, Sofia, Leo, Angel, Ely, and Esteban.

What do you like most about Doxa?
The strong relationship with kids and how their faces light up when they do something they previously thought impossible. I also really like the opportunities that we provide parents, kids, and adolescents to participate in cultural activities, sports, and counseling that isn’t always widely available.

During this time of sheltering in place, what have you learned about yourself and your family?
I have realized that, unfortunately, many times we do not value everything that we have around us. This pandemic came and has paralyzed our lives. Showing us that at any time the world can be taken away and, in the worst cases, our lives can be taken away. I thank God for keeping my children and my loved ones healthy. As a family we have had to really value every meal we have and every peso that we make. Above it all, we see that we are blessed because we all continue to be united at home and that with a little prevention for the future we can make a difference.

How has Doxa helped you and your family?
The help that Doxa has provided is much more than something material or financial. Doxa has helped us to establish rules with our kids, form values and responsibilities, and develop other abilities that we didn’t have as a family. It’s also been the reason why I could continue and finish my high school studies. The opportunity that Doxa has facilitated regarding sports and cultural activities is also something that my family would have grown up without.

Why is Doxa’s work in the neighborhood of Pedregal de Santa Julia important? 
In this community Doxa is more than a couple classrooms, it is where dreams come true. Through the years that I have been working at Doxa, I’ve seen the faces of kids with absolute amazement as they are able to do things they thought they couldn’t, and that their parents thought they would never do on account of not being able to financially support them. Facilitating after-school activities is very important because sometimes the mom and dad have to work and this prevents them to being able to help with their child’s homework.

What does Doxa mean to the surrounding community? 
I think Doxa represents something very important for our community. Doxa has put itself on the line for us and our kids. Over time we have seen those kids grow up and some are now adolescents who are attending college. Doxa has also marked the lives of thousands by bringing the peace and tranquility that a new roof provides.

Dear Doxa Community

Our global community is experiencing the throws of crises on top of crises: a pandemic, systemic racism, movement of refugee populations, natural disasters, political oppression, and others. Too often crises seem far away, distant, or difficult to grasp. 2020 has provided a dose of realism that while crises can strike anywhere around the world, they can also unfold on our front doorstep.

Crises can disrupt our physical world, but also our emotional and spiritual worlds. They bring us opportunities for lament, anger, engagement, change, listening, and learning. The Bible reminds us there is a season for everything, even the uncomfortable things. It is important to embrace and not rush these seasons, lest we carry on in ignorance. That we can fully experience each season with a humble heart focused on wisdom. That on the other side, love will flourish and be sincere, intelligent, and responsible (Philippians 1:9-11).

The pandemic crisis of COVID-19 hit Tijuana hard. In the month of April, hundreds of families all across the city were slated to receive houses by volunteer groups, 22 of those families by way of Doxa. Likewise, Hogar de los Niños and Unidos por Siempre orphanages were expecting hundreds of volunteers to pour through their doors. Of course, neither of these things happened and the future outlook continued to deteriorate. The families, orphanages, and volunteer groups have experienced all degrees of emotions, that their plans and lives were severely impacted.

Thankfully, various churches and individuals took time to understand the situation, empathize across borders, and then act. Choosing to boldly pray and donate, taking an active role in expressing love and reconciling the little they could within the larger COVID-19 crisis. These efforts have resulted in exceeding Doxa’s Spring 2020 Goals! Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to understand this crisis and respond. $164,705 has been raised, which includes funding 22 houses (4 have already been built!), $8k+ for Hogar de los Niños, and $15k+ for Unidos por Siempre! Many prayers, notes, and care packages have also been sent to people all over Tijuana. A reminder to all those we serve that they are not forgotten, even when we can’t see them in person.

Transitioning to Summer and Fall 2020, Doxa’s goals are 20 houses, 50 education scholarships, and to adapt our summer camp experience. We look forward to communicating more about these upcoming goals in the weeks to come.

While Doxa continues to respond in its little corner of the world, I also recognize there are many other crises that fill your time. I sincerely thank you for permitting the people of Tijuana, Doxa, and its partners to occupy a little space in your mind and heart.

With gratitude and grace,
Alex Knopes
Executive Director, Doxa

Tijuana Life and COVID-19

As a city, Tijuana has been and will continue to be drastically impacted by COVID-19. We see disruptions to employment, education, orphanages, and in some cases regional mobility. 

The schools in Tijuana have all stopped in-person classes as of several weeks ago and will most likely not return to classroom instruction this academic year. Zoraida, a Tijuana school teacher and assistant principal, says that “over the past few weeks the education system has implemented various platforms such as classes by TV, radio, and digital methods according to each family and their abilities to connect. This school year will continue and all students will automatically pass onto the next grade, per a government directive.” Adapting to these different learning methods can be a challenge with teachers unfamiliar of how to use them and the varying levels of connectivity that each family has. Some families have a TV, Internet connection, computer, and/or cell phone while others do not. To make this work, it is like a patch-work quilt where everyone is trying their best with the resources they have. 

The three major sources of employment around Tijuana and northern Baja California are factories (particularly technology and medical device manufacturing), construction, and hospitality. It’s been hard to see factories temporarily shut down or drastically reduce workers’ hours due to social distancing efforts. Even more unfortunate is the production of medical devices that Mexico could utilize, but instead is contractually bound to export to other countries. This is an unfortunate by-product of special export zones and other international trade rules. Factory owners, Tijuana government, industry associations, and buyers are all trying to figure out solutions. Restaurants, hotels, and other leisure activities are and will continue to be negatively impacted as people stay home. Overall, families are using up their savings on food and other basic necessities during this time. For those that live paycheck to paycheck, the longer COVID-19 shutdowns and shelter in place orders stay in effect, the harder it will be. The families that Doxa serves in Tijuana typically do not have much or any financial buffer to weather economic disruptions. 

Carmen, assistant director of Hogar de los Niños orphanage, says “COVID-19 has affected us in two major ways, being socially isolated and having more time to share with our kids.” The social isolation aspect can be hard, especially for a culture that is very relational and is accustomed to expression through face-to-face interactions. Greetings by hugs and a little kiss on the cheek used to be common. This adjustment is tough and can take a psychological toll. On the other hand, an unexpected benefit is having more time with the kids at home. Hogar de los Niños is blessed with large spaces to play soccer, basketball, and other activities. Their kitchen and pantry are stocked and there continues to be nutritious food on the table. Carmen shares that “we have watched story time videos, danced, and sang.” All activities directed through a distance program by the Tijuana Cultural Center. Ending on a positive note, Carmen has noticed a decrease in arguments among everyone. 

Maria, founder of Unidos por Siempre orphanage, hasn’t let the news of COVID-19 slow her infectious and vibrant personality. She continues to organize fun activities, like an Easter egg hunt and kid’s day celebration, to keep everyone busy while cooped up at home. Unidos por Siempre has also been vigilant about increasing their cleaning efforts, hand washing, and disinfecting high-traffic areas. For active time, kids make extra use of the play structure and street out front for jump-rope and impromptu soccer games. 

For the Tijuana-San Diego region, COVID-19 has also impacted mobility. The San Diego Sector, with its three land border ports of entry, is one of the busiest in the entire world with an average daily total of 149,445 persons entering the United States (2019 data, US Dept. of Transportation). While the border has remained open for US citizens, permanent residents, and work visa holders, it has been closed to those with tourist visas. This has complicated the life of many people who regularly cross the border for family, personal, or other reasons. 

Update on Doxa’s COVID-19 Response

For the first time in Doxa’s 30-year history, there were no groups in Tijuana building houses this spring. The faithful Spring Break groups that have been a cornerstone in Tijuana house building were noticeably absent. Unfortunately, many other organizations that build houses around Tijuana and northern Baja California also canceled their house building plans. Instead, a handful of organizations (Doxa included) quickly pivoted to raising donations towards the building of houses by locals. Not only can this still be a way to ultimately accomplish the mission of building houses for qualified families, but it has the added benefit of increasing employment opportunities in the region where many may be facing layoffs. 

Doxa’s orphanage partners are also heavily impacted by the absence of groups. Normally, the spring house building season is when they host many volunteers and recognize the income that those groups bring. This income is what helps to sustain their operations year around. In response, Doxa has started a special fund for each orphanage so they can still be supported financially during this time. 

With school classes canceled, various distance learning strategies are being used. For older students, online classes have started and Doxa’s education program quickly shifted to providing laptops and home Internet access to families without those resources. Having kids study from home has been an adjustment for all our families, just as it probably has for yours. The after-school program is temporarily closed until we can safely reopen. We use a mix of WhatsApp and phone calls to check-in with families and attend to student progress.

With the disruption caused by COVID-19, Doxa has taken this as an opportunity to rethink, repurpose, and pivot into new strategies for still accomplishing its mission of house building, education, and community throughout Tijuana. These needs don’t cease just because of the current pandemic. While all of our lives in the short-run have been drastically altered by COVID-19, Doxa remains attentive and perceptive in the ways that COVID-19 may have impacts in the long-run. We hope to be able to use this window of opportunity as a way to ultimately better serve the families of Tijuana. 

Below is an update on fundraising efforts for house building and both orphanage funds. Thank you to everyone who has contributed towards these efforts, we’re making great progress! You can continue to be involved through active prayer, giving, and reaching out to someone you know in the Tijuana community.

Total fundraising in response to COVID-19

Being Helpful: Relief, Rehabilitation, or Development

Our response to poverty and how we carryout poverty alleviation plans matters. We have a desire to help in a productive way, and not enable or make worse someone’s situation in the long-run. How can we do this? 

First, it helps to determine what type of poverty alleviation effort is appropriate: relief, rehabilitation, or development. This classification was pioneered in the best-selling book, When Helping Hurts

  • Relief is characterized by an urgent need that people are incapable of fulfilling themselves typically due to a one-time crisis (think COVID-19 sickness or food shortage). 
  • Rehabilitation occurs when people have recovered their bearings and can start to actively be part of their own solution (think active job searching after unexpected job loss). This continues until they return to pre-crisis conditions. 
  • Development describes the growth that someone has above and beyond their pre-crisis state (think moving into a nicer house due to years of dedicated job growth or being able to provide education opportunities to their children that were unattainable for themselves). Development can take years to materialize and even span generations in the same family. 

Another key distinction between these poverty alleviation strategies is that relief is typically done to someone and rehabilitation and development are done with someone (learn more from The Chalmers Center). 

Within the current context of COVID-19 in Tijuana, Doxa’s response has been a mixture of relief and rehabilitation. Relief efforts have included food distribution to community households, special emergency funding to orphanages, and the provision of face masks. The procurement process for the food and face masks has been rehabilitation as we source these items locally. Partnering with a local farmer, produce vendor, and larger grocery stores to give them all needed business. Repurposing our house curtain maker, Luis, to instead make hundreds of face masks during this time. Additionally, when legally allowed to resume house building, Doxa will be employing local people to build houses. Another example of rehabilitation efforts. 

Even without the challenging times of COVID-19, it can be hard to accurately respond to poverty. For some it evokes an emotional and spiritual reaction and for others an alarming panic and urgency to just do something. If we’re not careful, however, the wrong application can lead to long-term harm. As the situation around COVID-19 further develops and gradually comes to an end, there will be another difficult decision-point on the horizon. When to stop relief efforts before they start to do harm? 

How do kids end up in a Tijuana orphanage? Is “orphanage” even the correct term?

While volunteering in Tijuana, groups typically stay at one of Doxa’s partner orphanages. Either Casa Hogar de los Niños or Casa Hogar Unidos por Siempre. The casa hogar prefix is part of their full name and translates to the word orphanage. The literal translation, however, is house home. Neither of these translations do justice to the work that these organizations actually do. 

Kids that are at a casa hogar typically come from one of four backgrounds: 

  • Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (DIF)
    • This is a government entity with offices in Tijuana that work with children, elderly, and vulnerable populations. One of their specific functions is to regulate orphanages and other organizations that care for children. They are also legally responsible for minors that are removed from their families or need a temporary place to live. The ultimate goal of DIF is working towards the well-being and strengthening of families, which will result in their self-sufficiency. 
    • DIF uses the orphanages throughout Tijuana as places to house kids when the courts determine that their parents are not fit to care for them. Since the ultimate goal of DIF is to reunite families and work to improve them, DIF kids typically do not spend more than 1-2 years maximum in an orphanage setting. 
    • In rare cases where kids truly have no family or fit adult to care for them, DIF works to secure a permanent placement in a casa hogar. 
  • Volunteer kids 
    • Oftentimes kids have a parent, relative, or someone else who is legally responsible for their wellbeing. This person loves them and wants to care for them, but doesn’t always have the necessary income to do so. In these instances, the responsible adult will directly approach a casa hogar and reach an agreement on what child care looks like. 
    • In these situations, child care typically looks like the kids living at the casa hogar from Monday-Friday and then returning back home on the weekends. It is also common for the responsible adult to pay a small fee to the orphanage (in the range of $5-15 per week). 
  • Kids of orphanage workers 
    • It takes various employees to properly run an orphanage and some live on-site. It is common for the employees who live on-site to also have their kids be part of orphanage life and essentially grow up there. 
  • Daily childcare 
    • Similar to volunteer kids, these are children whose responsible adult has directly approached an orphanage and worked out a childcare agreement. This is particularly common among single parents who work long hours and have no one else to help with childcare. School is typically half-days in Mexico, so parents who work full-days can rely on a casa hogar to fill in the gaps. 
    • In this arrangement, the responsible adult drops off their child in the early morning and picks them back up at night time after work. The child does not sleep in the casa hogar. Just as with volunteer kids, this type of arrangement is typically accompanied by a small weekly or daily payment from the responsible adult to the orphanage. 

The director of the orphanage has the ultimate say over which kids get admitted and which do not. They also have the ability to create a mix of kids from these four sources, according to what they prefer. 

With varying backgrounds and the ultimate goal of family reunification and self-sufficiency, this explains why kids are in orphanages for unpredictable lengths of time. Some just weeks and others for years. While it is always nice to see the same child from year to year on your house building trip, just because they are no longer at the orphanage doesn’t mean that anything negative has occurred. They are almost certainly reunified with their family or responsible adult. With a more accurate understanding of how kids would end up in a casa hogar, the term orphanage doesn’t really make sense. It makes one assume that none of these kids have family, which is simply not true. An effective casa hogar meets families where they are at with childcare needs and does so on a temporary basis, until the responsible adult can resume their rightful childcare duties. In fact, the services of a casa hogar are typically a last resort, employed when no other suitable or safe solutions exist. Perhaps a more accurate name for these organizations would simply be a children’s home?