Many residents of San Diego’s sister city, Tijuana, live in poverty, without access to adequate food, shelter, medical care, or educational opportunities. We are committed to helping our neighbors across the border.Since April 2016, we have partnered with Project Mercy, by sending volunteer teams to change the lives of poor families by building homes and bringing stability and safety. IRT sends teams of 25 volunteers to the community to build a 16 x 20 single-story home in just one day.
Over the years, we have sent 886 volunteers and built 37 homes in the informal settlement communities of Corazon, Fuentes del Valle, and San Nicholas on the outskirts of Tijuana. These settlements are populated mostly by migrants, most from central Mexico, searching for better opportunities. The cost of living and low wages often leaves these families with insufficient funds to build houses. As a result, the communities have become a sea of rudimentary shelters built from scrap materials. These structures leave families exposed to the elements and vulnerable to disease.
WATCH: One family's life change in one day.
WATCH: a time lapse video of how we build a house in just one day:
In August 2022, Eulises and Karina lost their home and all their belongings in an uncontrollable fire. The parents of six were devastated. “It is not easy to lose everything and start all over again when we are a big family,” they stated, remembering the fateful day.
International Relief Teams volunteers are the backbone of our organization. Every project celebrates the dedication and effort our volunteers have given to the organization and to those they serve.
International Relief Teams' volunteers rally to build a home for a struggling Tijuana family.
International Relief Teams’ CEO visited students in San Quintin, Mexico to present water-less toilets based on accessible materials that can be found in their region.
Thanks to our donors and volunteers, another home is built for a deserving family in Tijuana.
San Diego firm Sillman Architecture & Design joins International Relief Teams to build a home for a deserving Tijuana family.
Maria Mendoza made $30 a week. She worked 14-hour days to help feed her husband, Sergio, and their five children. They made the difficult decision to leave their relatives and the place they called home in search of something better. Maria and Sergio moved their family to Tijuana, close to the border with the USA, where they heard they could find jobs that might pay higher wages.
“When we lived in the old house, we did not have a door. We didn’t have much, but I was so afraid everything would get stolen if we left,” said Mari. “Now, we have a door with a lock. This little lock has given me my freedom. I am able to leave the house without worry.”
Edwig, Adriana, and their family were living in a small shack built by scrap wood, in the community of Fuentes del Valle, in Tijuana. Their shack had a dusty blue rug to cover the dirt floor, and a partial roof made out of wood. During rainy nights Edwig would wake up with water dripping on their bed. Things dramatically changed for them when a group of 25 IRT volunteers traveled to Tijuana in February, to build a 16’ x 20’ home for them.
Gabi a single mother of three, left Chiapas, one of the poorest states in Mexico, in search for a better life in Tijuana, Baja California.
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.
Delfino, 82, woke up to a cold drop of rain on his eyebrow and realized that it was raining. He immediately woke up his wife, Susanna, and ten-year-old step-daughter, Alondra, to help pour soft sand on the entrance of their home, a tiny one-room shelter with dirt floors and a tarp roof.
On the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico just south of the U.S. border is the tiny dust-blown community of Fuentes del Valle. Fuentes is filled with young migrant families, mostly from Central Mexico,...
Yoselin, 10 years old, was waiting for this day for two years, the day she finally got a home. She had been living in a one-room shelter with her two brothers, Kevin and Rogelio Alejandro, and her...
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By: Jenna Montgomery, Communications Manager for IRT Today is the best day of Mari’s life. She is about to receive a gift beyond her wildest dreams – a house. The 16ft x 20ft house with a loft, a...
This is Fuentes del Valle – a newly formed community of 150 families in Tijuana, Mexico. Even though life is challenging here, families in this community believe they have more opportunities than...
A family of five moves to the unknown outside Tijuana A little over a year ago, the Gonzales-Valdivia family took a leap of faith to move to a tiny plot of land on a barren landscape...
(This story was originally posted on Popsugar on May 26, 2016) Picture a mom living on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico, one of the poorest regions in Latin America. She has no running water or...