There’s nothing like spending the weekend building a house that someone will call HOME. I had the opportunity to be sponsored by my office, Studio E, to spent 2 days nailing framing, painting trim, and cutting wood to build a home for the Tamayo Ibarra family in Ensenada, Mexico.
Since 1991, the Homes of Hope program has been providing opportunities for volunteers to service families in need, like the Tamayo Ibarra family. The program, put on by Youth With A Mission (YWAM), has placed 4,400 families in homes globally (as of 2012).
Team Studio E
Background information provided by YWAM:
Carlos and Martha have been married for 10 years and they never owned a house before. They have three kids- Carlos, age 9, Maria, age 5, and Angel, age 2. When Carlos’s father passed away, he inherited a small piece of property. They placed an old trailer house on it and that is where they have always lived.
Carlos does not have a stable job. He sometimes works in the fields or fishes for friends when they need the hand. He is always paid by the day and his salary is not the same every week. He makes around $700 to $1000 pesos per week. For the Tamayo Ibarra family, it is not possible to build a house with this income. It is just enough to buy food.
The conditions of the family of five involved sharing a small camper trailer. The trailer provided a place to sleep, but was in terrible condition. The camper’s floor wore over time and use, leaving holes. The roof leaked and provided no insulation. Sometimes, when it rained and everything inside got wet, they slept outside because of the humidity. Electrical access was being wired outside a window to a small car battery.
The Studio E crew arrived on site with 16 other volunteers at 9:30am on Saturday. Teams split into three to tackle various tasks for the build: framing, trusses, and the painting crew. By the end of the first day, the walls and trusses were up, with electrical and drywall started. The Studio E team was mostly fueled by homemade lemon, coconut, chocolate chip and granola cookies made for the trip (see below for recipe).
It wasn’t all work and no play. Pamela, our office intern from Monterrey, Mexico, taught the team Spanish all weekend. She even challenged her colleagues with a tongue twister, “Tres tristes tigres tragaban trigo en un trigal”. It translates to, “The three sad tigers swallowed wheat in a wheat field”.
When the build was complete, trim in place and paint touched-up, the team waited for the furniture to arrive. While waiting, members of the Tamayo Ibarra family taught the volunteers how to rope cattle, others showed off their jump roping skills, and the rest were left to be entertained by exploring all the farm animals, which included a 2 day-old calf.
The End (or beginning)
The amazing part of the experience was being able to work side by side with the family to build their own home. For two days our team got to know them, learn their culture and lifestyle, and ultimately change their lives for the better. It was an inspirational experience that is highly recommended. At the end of day two, the house was furnished with beds, a stove, storage shelves, and small gifts. The kids, for the first time, had their own bed. Back in San Diego, as we lay our heads on our own pillows, our hearts are filled with joy knowing a family in Ensenada was doing the same.
YWAM BLAM Cookies!
- 1 cup of flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup of brown sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp of coconut extract
- 1 stick of butter
- 2 eggs
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp of lemon juice
- 1 cup of shredded coconut
- 2 cups of chocolate chips
- 3 cups of granola
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. Set side
Beat together the sugars, vanilla, and butter with a mixer. Once smooth add eggs, lemon, and lemon zest. Mix until well combined. Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture until one consistency. Add the granola, chocolate chips, coconut and mix until just combined. Scoop spoonfuls of dough onto the baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 10-13 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cookies sit on the baking tray for 3 minutes before moving them to the baking rack to cool. Most importantly, enjoy!
Recipe is adapted from For the Love of Cooking
I am not an author. To be quite honest, I always hated English class. I write so I may share my experiences and remember the man I met on a bus who treated me to dinner with his family, paying and booking a hotel only to find out its out of business, fake crying in the Athens airport to get a ticket home, or remember the strangers who looked out for me on a bus. Some live, experience, and are fulfilled by what’s in their backyards. I find there is something truly exhilarating about cramming as many possessions into a bag as possible, only to complain you brought too many. This is my life out of a suitcase, hope you enjoy.