Based out of San Diego, California, the Amor – meaning love in Spanish- Ministries is a charity organization with a reputation for building houses for families living in poverty. For the past 35 years, they’ve already managed to build over 18,000 homes and over 350 churches. They continue to look for volunteers and employees to help them build homes for the underprivileged in countries such as South Africa and Mexico. Americans Scott and Gayla Congdon founded Amor after a visit to an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico. The organization gives families much more than just a house; they inspire them with a new beginning.
The goal of the organization is to create a chain reaction through the elimination of their base problem, and then they are able to fix the rest. Here’s a typical scenario:
An average family income in Mexico is about MXN 700-800 per week and with that they firstly have to purchase food, maintenance for their shack, and medical bills. After those expenses, little to none is left to invest in buying or building a house. The shacks are built from old garage doors and wood panels and families sleep on top of yoga mats on earthen floors that are sometimes unsanitary. Kids as young as 14 years old often drop out of school to work in factories to help raise money. The other reason for a high dropout rate is schools are located several miles away, which means kids have to wake up really early to walk as there’s no other mode of transport.
But everything starts to improve once they have a house; the family can spend their money on their child’s education rather than fixing their house as well as save up their money to buy a bicycle. A house also means bigger living space and rooms to fit an actual bed improving their overall health.
On the Amor website, they’re blogging about their work and the impact on the families. The work is done in teams consisting of volunteers and their employees. I was moved and decided to be a part of the Amor ministries.
When I volunteered during this past spring break in Tijuana, I would have to say that it’s one of the best things I’ve ever experienced. I really got to know the family as well as my team. We chatted while we worked and listening to their stories made me realize how lucky I am. The most unforgettable thing was the smile on their faces once we completed the house.
I’ve also noticed a lot of donations going on, but I’ve never really got to do anything hands-on. With Amor, its different and you have a chance to put yourself in a situation that you’re not used to and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone. At the beginning of the trip you’d feel a bit nerve-wracked, a little uneasy about the work load, but I promise you that at the end the results of what you have accomplished, will make it worth the trip.
Amari Zhang is, our July Intern, from San Fransisco, California and here to visit friends and family. She loves to doodle, shop with friends, play tennis, and travel.