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Volunteers build houses for Tijuana families

Project Mercy has built over 1,600 homes south of the border.

TIJUANA, Baja California — In a vacant lot baking in the Chula Vista sun, over 150 volunteers from around the country paint, measure and nail together the pieces for a brand new home. Their destination, Baja for those who sleep without a roof over their heads.

"I took some clothes down with a friend to hand out in Mexico. And one day I was carrying them into our house and I saw that she was sleeping on a dirt floor. I said, this is where you live? And she yes." said Project Mercy Founder Paula Claussen. "And I said, I think you need bags of clothes. I think you need better housing."

Since 1990, Claussen and her group of volunteers at Project Mercy Baja have built over 1,600 houses for impoverished families between Tijuana and Tecate. Those living in abject poverty south of the border, given a life-changing gift that only needs a day's worth of elbow grease.

"It's heartwarming," said Claussen. "It makes me know that the difficulties we may go through are all worthwhile to help these people, to see what they don't have. And with one day of construction, one day we get a house built for them. It's it's awe-Inspiring."

But on this day, Project Mercy has an army of hands to build the supports and to help paint the drywall for six individual homes. 

Before the pandemic, Krystal Zellmer of Klemmer Seminars would bring eager participants ready to work together and realize passions for service of the less fortunate.

"People have a revelation about how they show up," said Zellmer "How they can choose more joy, how they can choose to be a bigger contributor to the planet, what their purpose is and how to put that into action, not just in a specific thing, but in anything they do."

While it only took a few hours on a hot afternoon, those from Klemmer Seminars and Mercy Project Baja, six families from Tijuana will soon have a place to call home. And with more hands on deck, the teamwork really makes the dream work.

"There's a famous saying," says Claussen. "It takes a village to build a village. Well, it just takes big heart."

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