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Parish builds home for displaced Mexican family

13 8.17.17_StCharlesmission3 PAGEA group of 72 parishioners from St. Charles Parish, San Carlos, traveled to Mexico in June to build housing for a poor family who lost everything in a flood. (Courtesy photos)

August 17, 2017
Christina Gray

An extended Mexican family whose hillside home outside Tijuana was destroyed in a flood now has shelter thanks to the work of 72 parishioners from St. Charles Parish in San Carlos.

The parish group, which included 28 high school teens, 18 college-age young persons and 26 older adults including pastor Father Dave Ghiorso, traveled together in a 14-van caravan to Mexico in June to build by hand three large roofed structures for the family during an annual four-day service trip.

“It was a desperate situation,” Carlos DeMarchena, parishioner and mission sponsor, told Catholic San Francisco, describing the family who lost everything in the natural disaster. “But, imagine, in three days our group – by hand, because no power tools are allowed – poured a slab and constructed structures where there were none.”

Each day began with morning prayer, he said. On the first day, one of the St. Charles “van groups” mixed from scratch the sand, rock and cement to form the structures’ concrete slabs while another group worked on the framing. By the end of the second day, walls went up as well as the roof frame and plywood siding with tar paper and chicken wire were added in preparation for the stucco, also made from scratch. On the third day, the roof went up.

This is the 25th year that St. Charles has traveled to Mexico to build homes for poor local families as part of Amor Ministries, a San Diego-based nonprofit that organizes volunteer work-service trips for individuals and groups.

Amor Ministries works with the Mexican government which asks for assistance responding to the housing needs of the country’s poorest people.

Amor handled the logistics of the group’s home for the week – a large gravel parking lot – but the group brought most everything else they needed including food and tools with them. They took showers in open air structures with water heated by the sun and camped in tents at night.

The family was able to move into their new homes nearly immediately and the parish celebrated with a Mass upon their return.

For more information visit amor.org.

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