Back in May, we hosted the “Build-A-School Fiesta” to raise funds to build a school in Mexico’s San Quintin Valley.️

This past week, #MissionSanQuintin came to fruition and Summit Lodge’s Lorraine, Tony, Marco, and Joanna ventured south to aid in the school build and learn about local culture.

Lorraine kept a detailed photo diary of the eye-opening journey.

Check out her photos and descriptions below.

Day 1: In transit, San Diego Coronado, Old Town.

Featuring – Yellow, 1am start, more yellow.

Day 2: Part I – Tijuana Border Crossing to Ensenada

Featuring: The staggering shift from wealth to poverty and crime, several dozen members of biker gang members lining the entrance entering the US, the current wall that spans between Mexico and the US, the juxtaposition of destitute shelters comprised of metal sheeting, plastic, wood and tarp with serene ocean views, abandoned towers by thriving apartment blocks, condemned buildings next to mansions, families who seem to be walking miles upon miles along the stretch of highway.

Day 2: Part II – Ensenada to Vincente Guerrero

Featuring – Tourist traps, fish markets, fish tacos, shark heads, cruise ports, windy mountain roads, tequila farms and cactus galore, incredible Mexican landscapes, cinder block buildings, bright buildings, wall murals, more driving, more poverty, queso-tacos at Pollo Loco, Basecamp, bed.

Day 3: First Day of Build

Featuring – Framing, framing, framing, last minute un-cancellation of second build, prepping the second concrete pad, adorable little ones, electrolytes, crashing the school’s dance and sing-a-long class, erecting walls, pre-nailing in the soffits and roof for assembling, puppies.

Day 4: Part I – AM School Build

Featuring – Some goofing, more framing, concrete pouring, hammer-time, getting the oil’ roof on, being super helpful, story time, and a boo boo.

Day 4: Part II – Women’s Transition House, La Dolceria, Thrifty’s Icecream

Featuring – Bacon making , a mini BJJ self defense demo and workshop, piñata, piñata, ice cream and prep for tomorrow’s garbage dump visit.

Women are still considered to be merely property in this part of Mexico, young girls are sold into prostitution and, when considered to be no longer profitable, are discarded. It’s not uncommon for these women to become pregnant in such circumstances, and will end up raising their children without basic parenting skills.

Dorothy take these women in and teaches them hi to be mothers, shows them what love looks like, and in turn teaches them to love the same. She teaches them basic skill, like cooking, and means to make a living. The more incredible work she does is helping restore these women to know that they are valued, of great dignity and worth because they are made in the image of God. Many women have been healed, transformed and restored through her work.

It was a joy today to participate in a basic self-defense demo to help empower these women and reinforce the truth that they are of value and worth, that the abuse that happened and still happens in the area is wrong and worth fighting against. Needless to say, Marco and Joanna led this out and were incredible in using their skills and talent to inspire hope to these women! Love them!

A small team in the evening prepped some food bags for a visit to the garbage dump where we anticipate to meet some people in abject poverty and need.

Day 5: Part I – Third Day Building

Featuring – Early morning bonding with Dakota, sandwich making, loving up some Mexican pups, getting the roof on the second build, lizards, inside walls, Jenga

Day 5: Part II – Abject Poverty in San Quintin’s Garbage Dump

Featuring – Burning refuse and waste, diseased dogs, crude shelters comprised of plastic sheets, tarp, cardboard or whatever can be salvaged from the garbage piles, hopelessness, despair and shame.

This is not just a wasteland or garbage dump, but “Home” to some of the most desperate people in the area. The people here survive from scavenging and salvaging what they can to attempt and sell elsewhere. We walked among flaming piles of garbage and through perpetual fumes of burning plastic searching for the people here to provide them some food and water. We wanted to meet them and show them that they are valued and not forgotten; they too are people made in the image of God, of value, worth and dignity. We wanted to hear their stories and understand the situation they were in.

The biggest thing to hit me was the shame that the people had who lived here. We introduced ourselves providing them with a bag of food and fresh burritos. Their blackened hands were happy to receive ours. All were glad to receive what we had for them, but it was quickly apparent that many felt a heaviness of shame for the situation they were in. They expressed little hope for their lives.

Some of these people spoke English, which meant that they had a reasonable education. It’s likely that a mix of drugs, crime, unfortunate circumstances or mental health issues have forced the people to the point where their only means of survival is to scavenge and salvage materials from the piles of refuse and garbage.

Worse still, we know that there are women who have been forced into prostitution who live here. We know that there are children who are raised in these horrific conditions.

Let’s make no mistake, what we did was not a humanitarian effort to make us feel like we did something good. The problems here are beyond simply providing people with meals. MSQ is working on establishing relationships with the people here with a long term hope of creating a program to free people from this kind of poverty.

Day 6: Fourth and Final Build Day

Featuring – A division of wealth, interior siding, roofing, trim, painting touch ups, clean up, adorable kindergardeners, a thank you feast, street soccer, happy birthdays.

Day 7: Our free day

Featuring – Communal nausea and cramping, awesome team members and nurse love , electrolytes, gravol, charcoal, foetal positions, an orphanage tour and trip to the market (that a couple of us sickies missed ) fish tacos, beach, dinner and sunsets… (and more nausea)

Day 8: Travel Day from Vincente Guerrero to Ensenada

Featuring – Goodbyes, long windy roads, police federale stops, sickies, Mexican mountains, wineries, quick taco stop at Ensenada, stunning desert landscapes, zero wait times at the Tecate border, antics back at Old Town, dance party, lobster, rock’n’roll, and a cigar with whiskies with “tight” friends