During February 2015 half-term, seven members of the sixth form embarked on a life-changing trip to Mexico City. Through our trip to Mexico, we embraced our goal of social awareness.
We had the ability to live our Christian teachings of global solidarity, justice and peace through our experience. Pope Paul VI taught that if you want peace work for justice – this was one of our primary aims in Mexico whilst we helped those in poverty by constructing much needed housing. Sacred Heart has a goal this year of “social awareness that impels to action”. 1/3 of Mexico’s population lives in poverty; seeing the conditions these people lived in, we knew we needed to help.
We worked with the South American organisation “TECHO”, meaning “roof” in Spanish. They have an objective of providing homes to those who are most in need. You can find out more about TECHO by accessing their website: www.techo.org/en
Prior to our trip, we were involved in a lot of fundraising in order to finance some of the materials needed to build the houses. This included doing a sponsored walk, cake sale, and hosting a year 8 sleepover. We also received a lot of support from the PTFA. All contributions to our fundraising were immensely appreciated, even the smallest amounts are invaluable to the community we helped.
We travelled by coach to the small town of Xochimilco, with students from Sacred Heart School Mexico City and Sacred Heart School in Taiwan. Upon arriving to the site, we were shocked by the conditions of the area. However, we received a warm welcome from the community and knew that we were going to be well taken care of.
The process of building the houses involved evening out the ground or concrete, digging 2 foot holes and making sure all the wooden ‘pilotes’ which formed the foundations of the house were in place. On the second day, the focus was nailing the wooden slats to the frame to make the floor. We secured the walls to the floor and finally attached the roof on the last day.
After a day’s work, we returned to a nearby school to sleep each night. This involved sleeping on the floor in freezing temperatures and rationing running (cold) water, all without the luxury of heating. Suffice to say that this was really difficult for us; we were tired, in pain and hungry. Although we complained, we were quickly reminded that this is what the community had to deal with every day.
Despite the building being a frustrating ordeal, we were taken aback by the generosity of the community. Each day the families cooked us lunch and engaged in conversation with us – we learnt a lot about their lives. The children were so positive and caring, who desired to be taught English at school.
When we finished building, with a broken thumb, lots of scratches and bruises and considerable sunburn, we were left with a great sense of accomplishment. For us, these houses would have been a shed, but for the families, they were a chance of a better life. We are now eager to continue helping and are getting in contact with the TECHO offices in London.
After our busy weekend of building, we also spent time at Sacred Heart Mexico City, with the teachers and students being our tour guides. We were brought to the Cathedral of our Lady of Guadalupe, traditional markets and the ancient pyramids and we were also introduced to Mexican foods such as quesadillas and tacos.
This experience was more rewarding than we thought it could ever be and we are thankful that such an amazing opportunity was open to us. However, it is important to remember that there is still so much more that we can do to live out the goal of social awareness.
So, what’s next? The difficult part is actually doing these activities, but even small gestures of selflessness can make a difference. The sixth form has recently contributed to a food bank, and we can donate to charity easily, for example, by hosting charity events.
Sometimes we cannot directly help the people, but we can be a voice for them and their issues. TECHO is an awe-inspiring cause and we hope you will help us to contribute to the TECHO programme in the future – or even volunteer to be part of it!