By Annie Sunde
What does a family do when they’ve been told to shelter in place, when they don’t have an adequate place to call home? Not having adequate shelter has been the reality of millions of people living in Mexico, long before the COVID-19 crisis even began.
Headquartered in San Diego, Amor Ministries has spent the last 40 years partnering with local pastors and leaders in Mexico to build homes alongside families in need. Scott and Gayla Congdon founded Amor in 1980, after witnessing orphanages in Tijuana that were filling up with children whose parents loved them, yet simply could not provide for their basic needs. Since 1980, Amor’s mission has remained the same: build homes to keep families together. We’ve continued to follow the lead of local pastors that know their communities best and are entrusted with selecting the families that receive homes. The house is always a gift, and nothing is expected from the families in return.
Amor has facilitated short-term trips for more than 390,000 individuals and built nearly 20,000 homes throughout Mexico in Baja California, Puerto Peñasco, and the Yucatán Peninsula. Spring traditionally marks the start of our busiest season, a time when we’re welcoming thousands of excited trip participants that have chosen to spend week of their own time serving others, building a home in Mexico for a family they’ve never met.
But this year was different – with a pandemic affecting communities worldwide and travel restrictions barring entry into the very country we serve, bringing groups into Mexico was no longer an option. Amor made a commitment to 200 families that they would receive a home this year. And now with the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, we were unsure of how we would fulfill that commitment. Many of the families we made commitments to receive a new home this Spring had already lost theirs in the devastating Baja fires last fall; this would be the second time they would be losing a home, during a time when it’s needed most. With Mexico’s overburdened healthcare system, heavy job loss, and little to no government assistance, families were hit hard with this new reality.
In the midst of this, Amor has remained dedicated to the 200 families we promised would be receiving new homes this year. With only 36 of these 200 homes built so far, we’re committed to fulfilling our promise by raising funds to ensure that the remaining homes can be built by local workers, once shelter in place orders are lifted.
In response to the immense financial hardships these families are facing, we’re continuing to support our pastors’ local Food Banks. $4,000 each month allows our pastors in Baja, Puerto Peñasco, and Juarez to purchase food and basic toiletries to distribute to families in their communities.
Our team on both sides of the border is dedicated to building homes to keep families together now more than ever - because we know when we hand over their new keys, they’re receiving more than just a house. A house means that parents now have more money to invest in their children’s education, instead of having to use it on rent. It means families can stay dry and protected from the elements, spending less days being sick and more days at school. A house means that a family can stay together, and it means hope for their future.
We have been so grateful for the outpouring of encouragement and support we’ve received in the past few months. You can help respond to both the immediate and long-term needs of the communities we serve by donating to Amor.
To give, please visit the Amor website and select our General Fund. Your donations help fund our pastors’ Food Banks and purchase building materials that allow local volunteers to build alongside families in desperate need of a home.
Editor's Note: Many non-profit organizations that work in Baja have been deeply impacted by Covid-19. In an effort to drum up support, Baja Bound will be featuring a different non-profit every few weeks. In the meantime, please visit some of our friends in the links below and make a donation if you have the means to do so!