Building homes, inspiring hope to families in Mexico

Many families in Mexico lack adequate housing. These families want better homes, but are unable to afford them. But one Utah-based organization is trying to help.
Smiles Abroad Foundation builds houses for families in need in Agua Preita Mexico. The town is on the northeastern corner of the Mexican state of Sonora and it stands on the U.S.–Mexico border. It’s just a four hour drive from Phoenix and a two hour drive from Tucson.
“Our first year we went as participants and it was a program called Charity Anywhere. We decided that since we liked the opportunity to serve in that way so much, and had the building know-how and organization skills to do our own program, we would start our own project,” said Carol Smith. “We were already involved with another service organization called Smiles Abroad Foundation, so we took this to another level of building homes for the needy in Mexico.”
For the past 13 years, Carol and her husband, Stuart, along with 30-40 volunteers spend the week between Christmas and New Years building two homes for families in Mexico.
“We’ve roughly built about 30 homes and helped with repair work on many others,” she said. “We’ve probably benefited 40 to 50 families.”
In addition to building houses, the organization has provided to the city government an ambulance, hearse, station wagon and a school bus.
Smiles Abroad Foundation is looking for volunteers to travel with them in 2018 to help provide the labor necessary to complete the projects in Mexico.
“We charge $650.00 for each adult and $500.00 for each child and student,” she said. “That money helps to cover the cost of the building materials for these homes. It also covers the cost of feeding and housing the participants while there.”
The organization stresses that this is not a vacation. It is two weeks of dirt, sweat and hard work, but also life changing.
“We probably benefit more from this program as participants than those who receive the homes,” said Carol. “We have a motto that we say, ‘We don’t only build houses, we build people.’ We come home with hearts full of gratitude for what we have, and also for the wonderful people that we have had the opportunity to serve in Mexico.”
Anyone interested in participating can email for more information.

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