How We Started
It all started in 1996.
I (Maria) went to my grandmother's funeral in Cd. Juarez, Mexico. One of my aunts got really sick and we took her to her house. We drove a long ways through unpaved roads until we finally got to her house. I couldn't believe what I saw when we got to her home! She was living in a room made out of pallets. The windows and roof were made out of plastic. There was a bed sheet for a door and dirt floor. I asked my aunt, “Why didn't you say anything?" She responded, "Don't worry about us, mija. If you want to help out, go visit the school.” We did and when I saw the school, my heart was broken. It was the same situation. There was no water, no electricity, no sewer, and no floors, just dirt.
I had to do something. I couldn't just turn away and pretend I didn't see anything. I came across the border to El Paso and shared the story with my husband. He asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I would like to buy oranges, apples, bananas, twinkies and other snacks to take to the school. He told me, "Well, do it". I responded, "How? We don't have the money." Then he said, "Well, I just got paid, didn't I?" I said yes, but we need the money to pay our expenses. He responded, "One paycheck is not going to hurt us." So I gladly went to the store and bought all those things.
Early Monday morning, I went to distribute the goodies to the kids in the school. I looked for the principal, but he wasn't there. So, I spoke to the head teacher and asked her if I could distribute the goodies. She was so happy that she allowed her students to help distribute the food to the rest of the children in the other classes! When we finished, she asked me, "I don't know who you are, where you came from, or what you do, but I was wondering if through you a feeding program could be established. She told me the children were fainting because many of them had not had dinner the night before or breakfast that day. I told her I didn't have the means and ways to start a feeding program, but that I would pray about it; and that if it was God's will to start this program, He would provide what we needed to start.
I started heading back to my car to return to El Paso. In my mind I was praying, "Lord, if this is the place where you want us to be, confirm it." Then out of the blue, as I headed back to my car, coming from the opposite direction and having no contact whatsoever with the head teacher, two ladies approached me and asked me, "We don't know who you are, where you came from, or what you do, but we were wondering if through you a feeding program could be established.” Talking about a quick confirmation! My heart was going 100 miles per hour. I responded the same way that I responded to the head teacher. I knew I had to do something about it. I just couldn't turn away and pretend that I didn't see anything.
On my way back to El Paso I talked and cried to the Lord. When I got home again, I shared my experiences with my husband and he said, “Well, do it.” I told him that we couldn't be using his paychecks every week. He told me to share the story with businesses here in El Paso and ask for sponsorship. To make a long story short, I did ask businesses, and they did sponsor. The next Monday, exactly one week after my trip to the school, we were already operating the feeding program. God provided in such a beautiful way. For three and a half years, we fed 1,200 children each day, until the donation ceased due to Y2K.
Our vision has expanded since then. We are now building a community center on a property that the Mexican government has given to us, which houses an orphanage, a community kitchen, a training center of trades, and a recreation area, while continuing to distribute food and goods, host seminars, conduct toy drives, award scholarships to children and families in need.
Today, we still take things cross the border to Juarez whenever we can. We have to take them little by little, like the ants. We all have full-time job or studies, but we travel there after work hours and on the weekends: to feed, to give, to encourage, and to build a community. God has been faithful to us in all He has done.
Students in classroom. 1996.
Students in classroom. 1998.