By An Interview with Greg Yova, Director
What Is Project Mexico?
Project Mexico is a rare partnership of Orthodox Christian Jurisdictions from both the United States and Mexico. Our very own people do the work of this charity. Their lives are changed in the process.
What Do You Do?
For nearly five years, we have been building homes for the poor of Tijuana whose dwellings have often been dirt-floor shacks covered only with tin and cardboard. We build solid two-room structures that will provide the family with shelter for many years.
In addition, we are operating the first Orthodox orphanage in Tijuana. This facility provides a home for young teenaged boys who otherwise would be forced to live on the streets.
How Is This Done?
Each participant pays a fee for materials that are purchased in Mexico and delivered to the work site. Each group brings basic tools. No power tools are used, so the work site is very safe. A trained supervisor works with the groups to teach and manage the actual construction of the house. Construction experience is not necessary at all. Our best workers are usually those with the biggest hearts and a sense of adventure!
Is It All Work?
While hard work is involved, there is also plenty of time to meet and talk with the local people who are usually very curious and most gracious. The children love to play and sing and always hate to see the group leave at the end of the day. We close each trip in worship with a Vesper service and a meal with the boys at the orphanage.
Tell Us About The Orphanage
Due to a complete lack of facilities in the Tijuana area, orphan boys are usually only cared for until the age of twelve. Forced after that to fend for themselves, the majority end up living on the streets. This sad situation leads to neglect, abuse, criminal activity and even death.
Through the efforts of Project Mexico, St Innocent Orphanage was established in 1993 as a haven for these boysa place of love, security, and hope.
Situated on an eight and one-half acre ranch with spacious buildings, farm animals, and land for cultivation, the orphanage is full of potential and a perfect place for boys to grow up! St Innocent Orphanage will care for up to twenty five boys until they reach eighteen years of age. They will be provided with education, vocational training, spiritual training, and lots of love!
What Are Your Plans For the Future?
We plan to continue reaching out to our neighbors living in extreme poverty so close to us. Efforts are underway to establish a mission center within the orphanage compound to share the Good News of Christ in neighboring communities. We wish to draw the Orthodox community together through working together for Christ. We hope to build a solid foundation for our youth and reinforce that in our adults. And finally, we desire to bring hope to those who have none.
How Are You Organized?
Project Mexico is a non-profit committee of American and Mexican Orthodox Christians working within the Church. The Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA) has given its blessing for all jurisdictions to participate. In addition, the Southern California Orthodox Clergy Council has given its approval to this program.
How Can I Take Part In A Work Trip To Mexico?
There are two ways to participate in a work tripas a group or as an individual. You may schedule a trip just for your group or join with another group. You may also reserve a place for yourself on one of our already scheduled trips. Work trips range from one day to several weeks in length.
What Age Groups Can Participate?
All ages may take part with the following restrictions: Adults are always welcome; high schoolers may attend with a release form and an adult leader; junior highers and children may attend with their parents.
Are There Other Ways To Be Involved?
You can personally be involved in several ways. You can join the group of faithful who regularly pray for the staff and work of Project Mexico. Financial and material donations for the orphanage are needed on an ongoing basis (All donations are tax deductible). Short-term and long-term internships are available.
I’m Interested, But I Have Questions!
Write for our introduction packet, read it, and then, feel free to call us with any remaining questions. We can also put you in touch with previous participants.
For more information, or to make a donation, please write to:
P.O. Box 120028
Chula Vista, CA 91912-3128
or call 619-426-4610
Gregory Yova is director of Project Mexico.