Over the Christmas break, two groups of Loyola students and their fathers embarked on the Christmas Baja Build from Wednesday, Dec. 27 to Thursday, Dec. 28. Students journeyed to the eastern suburbs of Tijuana, Mexico, to construct a house for a disadvantaged family.
Students arrived early at Loyola at 5:30 in the morning. Afterwards, they made their way to the Otay-Mesa border by car.
When they arrived at the building site at nine o’clock, they received a concrete foundation and building supplies, such as lumber, plywood, doors, windows, shingles and paint. The team framed the house, assembled the exterior, drywalled the interior, shingled the roof and painted.
Chris Laubach, father of Andrew Laubach ‘11, led the group. Andrew Laubach previously went on the build with his local church, and in 2009 brought the opportunity to Loyola. Since then, Loyola students have completed a total of 20 homes, with many more to come.
For these projects, Laubach and the Cub Construction Crew work with an organization called Baja Christian Ministries. The organization built over 2,000 houses in Baja California and often saves the most difficult projects for the Cub Construction Crew.
Chris Laubach said, “The organization we work with has told me they often hold the most challenging home builds for the Cub Construction Crew because they know we will get even the most difficult homes completed in the timeframe.”
The builders were able to meet the family whom they are building the house for.
Chris Laubach said, “We typically meet the families we build for. In many cases, the members help with the construction, especially the children, who get to help paint their new home.”
Sophomore Peter Challita said, “The old house was a Frankensteined house made of scrap metal, rotting wood, and different plastics. It was a small one room house and you could tell the house was repaired many times.”
The family of five that received the house was thankful, as their father has a neuromuscular disease, which will soon leave him unable to move nor communicate.
Chris Laubach said, “His final days will be made much more comfortable in a warm and dry location.”
The family that the Cub Construction Crew helped is not the only disadvantaged family in that area.
Chris Laubach said, “We are building in poor neighborhoods on the eastern outskirts of Tijuana. Many existing structures are flimsy and constructed of whatever materials a resident can scrounge up. The people, though, are some of the nicest and kindest you will ever meet.”
Reflecting on his experience, Challita said, “The experience was humbling and put many aspects of my life into perspective.”
Chris Laubach said, “Being men for others and changing the lives of a needy family are made very evident in the practical sense of building a complete home.”
Director of Community Service Tom Zeko said, “The overall goal of the Baja Build is to give our guys an experience of working as a team and doing a good deed. It reflects family values, as dads and sons works hand in hand. They’re helping somebody. It’s concrete. It’s real. It’s an actualization of a work of mercy.”
Zeko said that Loyola goes on four builds per year and is working to bring it up to six in the following years. The next two builds occur in late April and in June, and signups for the April build go up in March.