Since the early 1990s, Doxa has been active on the West side of Tijuana. We’ve had the privilege of building over 2200 houses, thereby providing shelter to over 11,000 people. Over the last several years, needs have been changing and Doxa has started to also build houses in East Tijuana.
Doxa absolutely wouldn’t have been able to build so many houses in West Tijuana without a great home base. A place where volunteer groups can come, stay, and prepare for their building days. A place that is well-known throughout the local community and trusted so that families can come and apply for houses. A place to store house building materials and tools that is safe and secure. Apart from the right place, it also takes the right relationships. The people that activate those places and make them come alive. People who are deeply embedded into the local community, know the families, know the needs, and can be present year-round.
For West Tijuana, Doxa’s home base has always been Hogar de los Niños. We’ve had the privilege of growing alongside that orphanage for decades and used house building as a launching point for even more partnership.
When thinking about the vision of an East Tijuana home base, we strive to embrace Doxa’s values at all levels of implementation. This means collaboration with local organizations to the maximum extent possible. There’s no need to recreate the wheel, if we can partner with another organization who is already active. Working together, we can often have a larger impact than working alone and complement each other’s strengths. This also means being deeply committed to people, communities, and places. Making targeted and high-impact investments in relationships and spaces that will further strengthen the local community and help Doxa to achieve its mission. Cultivating and being committed to long-term partnerships sets the stage for future collaboration. This is exactly how house building led to the creation of Doxa’s education program.
In 2017, Doxa started to build houses in East Tijuana and has built around 70 houses so far. We’ve been able to hobble along without the benefit of an established East Tijuana home base. Groups have stayed at Unidos por Siempre and Rancho. House building materials have also been stored at both of those locations, and even at a neighbor’s house! Doxa’s supplies have been scattered everywhere. When it rains, we need to throw tarps over the lumber piles! It’s a real chore to keep everything organized and accounted for.
What Doxa has lacked in an established facility, however, it has made up for with relationships. Maria Figueroa (pictured right) and Jaime Ortiz (pictured at top) are the two principal relationships that have been cultivated over the past few years. Maria is the founder and director of Unidos por Siempre. She heads up family selection and on-the-ground logistics for groups. Jaime is the manager at Rancho. He heads up Rancho facilities and interfaces directly with groups who stay there. Together, these two (and their respective coworkers) are integral to working in concert with groups during their time in Tijuana.
With the relationships in place, it is now time for Doxa to work on a more established East Tijuana facility. Unidos por Siempre is a good place for small groups to stay, but we also need to be mindful that it is a working orphanage without much space. Rancho, on the other hand, is a very large place with over 20 acres of land and can accommodate groups of all sizes in their dorm-style rooms. Unidos por Siempre and Rancho are only about 3 minutes away from each other and are both focal points in the neighborhood.
The most urgent need is now a shed in East Tijuana that can accommodate 14 houses of materials, tools, and storage. This will complete the vision of having an East Tijuana home base where groups can land and launch out of in service to the local community. Rancho has graciously offered to provide room so a storage shed can be built. Plans are already finished and its time fundraise to make this a reality. Our goal is to complete fundraising for this project as part of Doxa’s December matching campaign and build the shed in time for groups to use in 2023. While there will always be more projects to further enhance and improve an East Tijuana home base, the addition of a shed signifies that all the pieces are present and functioning.
The team of Maria and Jaime, as well as their respective spaces at Unidos por Siempre and Rancho, provide Doxa with partners for the next 2200+ houses! We are so thankful to them for working with Doxa and ultimately bringing glory to God through their service!