Casas De Luz
Building Hope Without Borders Since 2005.
It all started when…
Kathy Faller went on a home build in Tijuana, Mexico and fell in love with the concept of building homes for families. She worked with Gersom and Amada Ayala to develop the basis of Casas de Luz.
Kathy introduced the idea to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito (UUFSD) and received immense support. We officially became a social justice action program of the UUFSD in 2005.
In our first few years, we built only a few homes a year. In 2015 we celebrated our 10 year anniversary with a total of 10 home builds. In 2018 we doubled that to 20 builds. In 2019 we built 26 homes. Since we began, we have built over 120 homes for more than 150 families in 6 communities.
The homes we build are funded through the generous donations of individual donors or groups who have come together to raise the funds. These groups are created either by a few families joining together or by different organizations, companies or schools. They can be any group of people who are interested in sponsoring a build. We are now working with over 20 sponsors per year and would not be able to build without them.
Our follow up visits…
To families for whom we have built have shown an increase in self-confidence as well as an increase in their standard of living. They have the confidence that their roof will keep them warm and dry and that their home will still be standing on a windy day.
Without having to pay rent or live in crowded and uncomfortable conditions, families are able to buy the basic necessities and provide a more comfortable life for themselves and their children. Children are able to remain in school knowing that they will have a safe and stable house to come home to every night. A home provides the opportunity for families to create a new life.
After we leave, families usually build a bathroom attached to the house or an outhouse. With the stable foundation of the home, families are able to expand more easily and continue to succeed. Some families have built entire new rooms as an expansion to their home.
In addition to homes…
We have built 2 community centers and supported the building of our most recent one, Faro de Luz, in 2018. In 2013, we built a community center named Peña de Horeb, for a pastor we had built a house for in our beginning years.
At Peña de Horeb, we support a breakfast club called Generación Infantil de Jesús. Every morning students have the opportunity to eat breakfast before going to school and a place to study when their classes are finished. Every year we supply the community students with backpacks filled with school supplies.
Our Faro de Luz community center is still new and building relationships with the community members. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday a service is offered as well as a meal and classes. Around 80-120 community members attend each time. We run a food security program, called Despensas de Luz, with Faro de Luz, giving families the opportunity to sponsor groceries for families at the community center.
We bring down a truck full of donations with our Re-purposing With A Purpose program. We take donations from the United States of furniture, household items, blankets, windows, and anything else that can be re-used.
By re-purposing these items, we are able to furnish a family’s home and keep items out of the landfills. Any donations we do not use in our homes are distributed at one of our community centers. We always find a home for donations.
Our leadership team…
Consists of high school students from across the county. Our internship program allows for the creativity of our youth to think outside of the box and bring new ideas to CDL.
We are constantly expanding and beginning new projects and couldn’t do it without the help of our high school leaders. Leaders develop practical professional skills they can carry with them throughout their education and career.
Casas de Luz is currently the most cost-effective organization building homes in Tijuana. By using in-kind donations for some of our building materials as well as furnishings, we are able to keep the costs low. Additionally we value our home build as a cultural experience for everyone involved. We share lunch and dinner made by local chefs and sometimes even go out for tacos on a build! Although we could build a house in one day, we truly believe that expanding the build across 2 days allows for builders to create connections with the family and other community members while taking in the Tijuana culture. Lastly, Casas de Luz is entirely family-friendly, we have builders from 7 years old to 80 years old. You do not need any prior building experience and there is something for everyone to participate in! Our master carpenters teach everything from how to hold a hammer to how to wire the house. Through our value of teaching we empower every builder to take an essential role throughout the build.