By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Six families in a rural area of Mexico will start 2022 in new homes, thanks to the efforts of Rotary International.
Earlier this month, Rotary Club of Rancho Bernardo and Rancho Bernardo Sunrise Rotary Club members joined forces with fellow Rotarians throughout District 5340 (San Diego and Imperial counties) and District 4100 (Baja California, Mexico), high school and college students in the service organization’s Interact and Rotaract clubs.
The volunteers built six homes for very poor families and the Rancho Bernardo residents worked on one of the houses.
“It was a very successful day,” said Michael Fuqua, RB Rotary Club Foundation president and a District 5340 assistant governor.
According to Fuqua, 130 people were involved in the volunteer effort in the community between Tecate and Tijuana.
“It was a daunting task to move that many people from international ports of entry to the house building sites and return,” he said. “Overall, 27 clubs in our district contributed about $52,000 to fund the project. It was done in collaboration with Project Mercy Baja and it really couldn’t have been done without them.”
The recipient families were living with no running water or electricity, according to the Rotarians.
Fuqua said the project entailed building 16-by-20-foot houses in a day. He said all the material was precut and laid out so volunteers could work with the guidance of experienced carpenters to assemble and paint the houses.
Without a municipal water supply or electric infrastructure in the area, outhouses were also built and a solar grid is planned to provide electricity.
“Our family consisted of a father, pregnant mother and 7-year-old son who were grateful beyond words,” Fuqua said. “We also brought donated household items for the family including a bed and sleeping bag for the little boy. While the area we built the house in doesn’t have electricity or plumbing, at least these people now have a hard-walled house.”
“There is something so awesome about handing keys over to a homeowner for the first time,” he added. “When you consider the way folks live to survive just 50 miles from us and how you can improve their day-to-day living conditions it is a tremendous blessing to be a part of it.”
He said the service project also provided Rotarians in nearly two dozen Rotary clubs an opportunity to interact with one another, which will likely lead to additional projects in the future.
“I believe that this project had a bigger impact on those that went than almost any other service project I’ve participated in,” Fuqua said. “It was real-time helping those in desperate need and results were seen in one day.”
Himchak writes for the
U-T Community Press.