Local Volunteers Build Homes South of the Border

By Carol A. Clark

Los Alamos High School youth and other volunteers spent Spring Break building homes for families in need in Mexico. Courtesy Photo

A contingent of 50 Los Alamos High School youth and several adults and four volunteers from Colorado, traveled to Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico over Spring Break on a mission – to build homes for two families in need.

This was the 27th annual Spring Break Mexico Mission trip for high school youth sponsored by The United Church of Los Alamos.

“Since 1986, we have built the equivalent of 131 single houses,” said Laura Erickson who participated in the trip.

The foundation is dry and the walls are going up. Courtesy Photo.

The group camped north of the Mexican town where the homes were to be constructed.

They built an 11-foot-by-22-foot single home for a family of five including the father, who drives a dump truck, his wife and their three elementary-age children.

This family had been living in a trailer, which had become unlevel from wind storms blowing the sand out from underneath it.

The family’s qualitiy of life will be greatly improved with the gift of this outhouse. Courtesy Photo

The group dug and built an outhouse for the family as well.

They also built a 22-foot-by-22-foot home with four 11-foot-by-11-foot rooms for a second family. This family includes a father and mother and their four children ages 17-21. The entire family had lived in a 10-foot-by-10-foot house.

The process to build these homes begins with the group leveling a space for a concrete floor, Erickson said. They mix the concrete by hand and frame and raise the walls.

The work is done with hand saws and hammers, she said. The volunteers wrap the house with chicken wire followed by tar paper and more chicken wire, in preparation for the application of stucco applied to the walls.

The roof is made of plywood, then sealed with a new polymer system.

Several volunteers apply a polymer system to the plywood roof while others are busy covering the tar papered walls with chicken wire. Courtesy Photo

The culmination of the weeklong adventure was a dedication ceremony for the two new homes.

“All week long the families have been working alongside us, especially the children,” Erickson said. “Each family also gave us a special treat by providing homemade burritos or tamales. When the second coat of stucco is finished, we gather inside the house with the family, give some small gifts including a quilt made by a member of United Church, and have a prayer of dedication. It is always an emotional time when we hand the keys over to the family.”

Mission accomplished! Courtesy Photo

In addition to their home building activities, the volunteers had an opportunity to visit a local market to buy souvenirs and to visit “Sandy Beach” on the Sea of Cortez.

The group arrived home from their week spent south of the border, tired and inspired last Saturday night.



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