It is a simple four-room home, but to the Vasquez family it means new possibilities in their home country.
In just two and a half days, 15 Pepperdine Law students worked tirelessly to build the home from the ground up. As part of the School of Law's International Justice Mission Club, led by club president and third year law student Tracey Brown, the students spent this year's Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend in Mexico in a small village between Tecate and Tijuana.
After spending Friday night in a church in San Diego, the group awoke early Saturday morning to complete the trip to Mexico and begin construction.
"One of the best parts about the trip was the drive down there," said Bryan Pereboom, a third year law student. "We got to know each other outside of the law school setting. It brought us closer together in such a positive way."
The students partnered with Amor Ministries, a service group with 30 years experience building homes and providing emotional and physical stability to families in Mexico, South Africa, and San Carlos. With nails, a handsaw, two-by-fours, chicken wire, stucco for the walls, and tar paper and tar shingle paper for the roof, each student took on a task, many without prior contracting experience. At night, the students slept in tents at the projects home base.
"The gratitude they showed to us for building the house was amazing," Pereboom said. "They were so grateful and it meant a lot to us to do that for them."The Vasquez family, for whom the house was built, currently provides ministry to residents of northern Mexico, specifically to victims of domestic violence, by welcoming them into their home for safety. The new house will serve as a larger, more fitting location at which the victims can stay.
The students' goal as club members is to promote the services of the International Justice Mission, a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. The organization is led by president and CEO Gary Haugen, a Pepperdine Law distinguished visiting professor who will join the faculty for a second time this spring.
"This type of trip wakes all of us to the reality that we have neighbors just over the border who can't afford basic necessities like food, clothes, and shelter," Brown said. "It reminds us that we are richly blessed and it reminds us of what a joy it is to share all that we've been given with others. I would love to see this tradition continue for years to come. It's a great way for students to regain their perspective in the midst of a busy year in law school."