Today, Rosario’s life changes forever. Today, the mother of six becomes a homeowner. Tonight, she will not sleep on a dirt floor. Today means her family will soon be reunited.
On this cloudy day in April, International Relief Teams and Project Mercy, a local nonprofit dedicated to improving the living standards of families in the shantytowns of Tijuana, are partnering to build the Lopez/Campos family of Tijuana, Mexico a home. For the past year, Rosario and her husband Gerardo have been cramped in a makeshift shack, comprised of scrap materials and tarps, with their three boys in the desolate squatter’s community of Fuentes Del Valle, located just 15 miles south of the US border. Their tiny structure that is divided into two rooms: a bedroom with a bunkbed and a dresser, and a kitchen with a stove connected to a gas tank, a basin, a countertop, and a broken table propped up by a chair.
Fuentes Del Valle is made up of a network of rocky, dirt roads and makeshift dwellings, housing about 150 families, migrants from central Mexico who have come in search of a better life and opportunity. There is no running water; water is trucked in every day, for a fee. Life is very challenging for these very poor families, but they are most likely better off than where they came from.
Rosario is from Sinaloa, Mexico and could barely make a living working in the fields to support her family. She and Gerardo, made the difficult decision to move with her three oldest kids with the hope of finding more steady work near the border. Rosario questions her decision every day to leave her three youngest kids with her mother in Sinaloa, including 16-month-old Mateo who is asthmatic and needs frequent nebulizer treatments.
On a typical day, after Rosario cooks breakfast for the family, Gerardo walks to his job at a hardware store nearby where he works seven days a week. Fifteen-year-old Ivan works with his father most days to help support the family. Rosario takes seven-year-old Emmanuel to and from school every day and 14-year-old Juan Carlos walks both ways to his school. Rosario grocery shops nearly every day because she doesn’t have refrigeration to help preserve food and then returns home to wash clothes and cook. When Gerardo comes home, he brings a new gas tank for the stove. After the family eats dinner, they go to bed early because they lack electricity. They wake up to start the routine over the next day.
However, today is not a routine day for Rosario. Today, a group of 50 IRT volunteers have arrived to build her a house.
“I never imagined I would ever own a home,” said Rosario. “I couldn’t sleep last night because I was so excited.”
She believes this house is her chance to reunite her family. Since they have been separated, she has ached to bring all of her children together again. Ivan, who just had his tenth birthday, told his mother living together under one roof is the best birthday present he could ask for.
Since June 2015, IRT has been working in Tijuana communities building homes for needy families. In collaboration with partner organizations Corazon and Project Mercy, IRT volunteers are helping to change the lives of families by building homes, bringing stability, and hope.