Nine months ago, Perla and her husband Jose and their two daughters, Selena (16) and Dana (10), left their home in the Sonoran Desert of Mexico, where they had desperately tried and failed to earn enough money to create a stable life for their family.
They arrived in Fuentes del Valle, a dry, dusty and desolate border community in Tijuana, where 150 families, including Perla’s mother, live in makeshift shelters without running water or electricity. Despite the harsh conditions, Perla and Jose felt they were better off in this community than where they had come from.
Jose was fortunate to find a job as a taxi driver and happy to start creating a home for his family. Using scrap materials and a discarded garage door, he built a structure for them to live in. He found old filing cabinets to store their clothes and protect them from the rain and dirt. They cooked all their meals on a two-burner propane stove and used a broken bathroom vanity as their kitchen sink.
Despite their impoverished living situation, they appreciated what they did have. They were thrilled to have their water barrels filled twice a week by a local water truck that visited the community. They were grateful to Perla’s mother for sharing her “bathroom”, where they could bathe with buckets of water in relative privacy, without getting their feet muddied.
International Relief Teams construction volunteers met Perla and her family on a very special day in June, the day that Perla and her family would get their first home. Not only did this house provide them with four sturdy walls and a concrete floor, it gave them a sense of optimism for their future and ownership over something substantial in their lives.
Perla has plans for the future now that she has moved into her new home. She will work to complete the retaining wall that will keep her new latrine safely perched high atop the steep hill. She will tear down the old house, and will plant a garden. Then she would like to make plaster decorations that she and Dana can paint and sell to neighbors to bring in extra income.
When asked what her newly built house means for her family, Perla was overwhelmed with emotion. With tears in her eyes, she said, “I may still have dust on my feet and have to work hard, but we are very blessed to be in this wonderful place with wonderful people, and now my family will have more than a home, we will have roots.”