Friday, March 18, 2022

Thoughts on the week


Click to see trip photos

It's Friday and we finished another great week with our Esperanza friends.  The foundation of the home for Erica, Jonathan and their daughter Nicole has been poured.  A dozen neighbors were there to help.  Three little girls (4th grade) helped with returning empty buckets to the mixer.

Tijuana remains a city in transition.  New assembly factories are being built every day.  Hilltops are being flattened to get raw materials from cement that will be used for roads and houses.  The farther you go away from town centers, the more new buildings that you see.

The cities are hard pressed to keep up with the infrastructure.  We talked to a man who's daughter works for an auto plant of some sort.  She makes 180 pesos for a ten hour day.  That's less than a dollar an hour.

We're happy to hear that volunteerism for Esperanza is picking up.  They have 13 more groups signed up to come down this work year.  They have about 70 families that want into the program.

We hear stories about how dangerous Tijuana is.  We've seen no evidence of violence where we work and travel.  This is a great place to volunteer and wonderful people to work with.  Give it a try!

John Muskopf

Monday, March 14, 2022

Monday 3/14/22 - First Workday

 Work in La Morita

Link to pictures

The new homeowner that we are working with is Erica in the Colonia of La Morita.  The house is being built inside what was going to be a repair shop.  This was the first worksite that had a portapot.

We were here in Tijuana in October 2021.  COVID was the main concern at the time and most people remained masked.  Masks are required in stores and restaurants.  We see a few people without masks but they are in the minority!

We are working to the east in a Colonia called La Morita.  When we first came here 20+ years ago La Morita seemed like a frontier town with all the dirt roads.  It took us an hour to get to the worksite.  They have added many 4 lane concrete highways since then but still takes an hour.

The highways are crowded due to the steady increase in population.  People come here for jobs in the factories, and traffic can be bumper to bumper at major intersections.  Today we passed thirty or forty blue busses marked Mitsubishi.  I thought that's what the factory is making but was told that the busses go out to the neighborhood to bring in workers.

There are no homes near the miles of factories we passed so people can't walk to work.  Was asked if there was a minimum wage here and were told that it is $15 for a ten hour work day.  The students at the College of Wooster have told us that a living wage is $15.00 per hour.  We still have a lot of people still coming to Tijuana.

John Muskopf

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Esperanza Mission Trip - March 2022

Esperanza Mission Trip 2022

On Saturday March 12, 2022, John Muskopf, Steve Schroer and Hannah Gaul travelled to Tijuana, Mexico for the annual Esperanza Mission Trip. Follow along this week.

Saturday night they went to Rosarito for shopping and dinner.  Today they went to Tacate, Mexico for great food and music!   

Link to trip pictures

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Music of Tijuana, by Hannah Gaul

The Music of Esperanza 
Hey there! 
Hannah here, writing her blog 3 months too late, mom always said, better late than never. Life has been nothing but hectic since we've gotten back from Mexico; work, thanksgiving, one positive COVID case, Christmas, work, a second positive COVID case (UGH). Luckily, life is starting to fall back into its own flow, and we're hoping things will slow down soon. Needless to say, we've been dying for some life on Mexico Time. 

We returned to Esperanza in the middle of October, the first group Esperanza had seen since 2020 (and the last they saw in 2020!). It was a smaller trip than  normal, but we did managed, between our 3 veterans, to get one new member, Lamin. Throughout the week, it was a joy for us to see someone who had never worked with Esperanza before to be in Tijuana, working side by side, with strangers, in a pandemic (however, without a complaint in the world and always a good dance or smile). We had worked in the town of Salvatierra with our homeowner, Alejandra, and by  the end of the week, despite minor language barriers, Lamin had become a second son to Alejandra. John, Steve, and I loved watching him transform, drop barriers, and become comfortable in an organization and city we have grown to love so much. 

Returning to Esperanza, never felt forgien, even with masks and extra precautions. It was filled with tons  of  hugs, hours of talking, and numerous cervezas. Everyone fell back into place, felt "normal" for a week, and refueled for the return to the US, and we couldn't be happier  we'd gone. 

A tradition we always have as an Esperanza group is to play music person by person around the table at night (this is sometimes accompanied by competitive Uno, and always Tecate). This year's "jam session" lasted many hours, and that brings me to my blog. I wanted to write my blog about two songs that are sentimental tunes for those who have been traveling with Trinity to Mexico for a while, as tribute to the two "old" guys who took the risk to go to Tijuana in October. Here's to you Steve and John. 

Music has a way of speaking to individuals when words aren't enough. Earlier today, Steve found out that we will be able to return to Tijuana in March 2022. Immediately, we've started recruiting and planning. However it isn't a daunting task, it is a labor of love surrounding this song here... 

Nothing of the last two years has been simple, but we have gotten through it together, and were finally able to get back to where we love the most. Unfortunately, where we love the most doesn't typically receive the best views from others, but those of us who know the  truth, we can't help but think, what a wonderful world. How wonderful, we are able to do the work we love, with people who've become a part of our family. How wonderful we have had the opportunity to share with new and returning members the joy and community  of Esperanza. How wonderful, we are able to see the sun, blue skies, oceans, and colorful neighborhoods of Tijuana. How wonderful are the people who share their lives across borders without judgment. Tijuana makes it easy for us to see the wonders of the world, and it's the awe and comfort of Esperanza that keeps us coming back. Each time a person attends, the experience puts an imprint on their life, which we hope helps them to see the wonderful bits of life throughout the times they are not so easy to see. 

The good news is, although now is hard, we will be returning in March 2022. Which leads me to my next song... 

We hope to see you, in the van (not on the blog) March 12-19, 2022. Because... we'll be 'On the road again, we just can't wait to get on the road again. 
The life I love making cemento with my friends, we can't wait to get on the road again'.
We'll see you on the road in March... 

Christian Century 11/17/21 - article - Volunteering at Casa del Migrante in Tijuana, Mexico

Interesting article about Casa del Migrante in Tijuana, Mexico.  We have visited their shelter many times over the past 15 years as part of our Esperanza Mission trip.

Click to read article

Casa del Migrante website

Monday, October 25, 2021

Last Year's House March 2020

We poured the floor for Marco's house last year.  Due to the Covid shutdown, we were the last group to work with Esperanza between March 2020 and our return in October 2021. Marco knew we were coming, so he bought barbecued chicken, macaroni salad, and various condiment for a meal to enjoy as we checked out his finished house.  He originally had planned to open a hamburger stand in his neighborhood, but it turns out that he's good at welding and fabricating.  He's been making a living making steel gates for driveways, steel doors, and steel frameworks to protect windows on homes.  That's more lucrative than hamburgers.  Here is Marcos and his house.  You can see some of the steel grids he makes on his windows.

If you're a group leader, I encourage you to consider returning to Tijuana.  They seem to be taking Covid more seriously than many areas in the U.S.  You see masks on people even it they are standing alone along the road.  We went in to a gas station to buy ice, and they had a temperature monitoring station and hand sanitizer right at the entrance.  I've seen that at a doctor's office in the states, but not in a gas station.

That's it for now.  Hats off to my fellow volunteers, Steve Schroer, Hannah Gaul, and Lamin Cobb.  They were a great team who made every day enjoyable  I hope to see them all again on our next trip in March 2022.

John Muskopf

Friday, 10/22/2012

 Friday's work included more backfilling of the floor.  They build a ramp of dirt so that both wheelbarrows and a bucket brigade could be used to move dirt.  We started at the back wall and moved toward the dirt pile.  The pile looked so huge that we thought there'd be enough left over to make a driveway or something.  At the end there was a small amount left from what had been the wheelbarrow ramp.  Two big dump truck should have held 28 tons, which was all moved from one place to another by hand.  In the process, we pile the fill about one block high, water it down with a hose, tamp it with a gas powered tamper, then start again.  The neighbors remained great, energetic workers so we were done by noon.  The next group will be able to reinforce the floor with steel fencing and rebars and cover it with a layer of concrete.  There is a group scheduled to the first week of November, and is the only group scheduled for the rest of the year.  Esperanza really needs help.

Above is Francisco and Alexandra.  They will have a good, solid house when it is finished.

Here is the worksite on day one, with the next shot showing how much fill was needed.  We filled and tamped it to within 3" of the top of the top block.

John Muskopf