Brown eyes peek through the chain linked fence. The school day has drawn to a close in Mazatlán, Mexico and the children at Rancho de los Nino’s have positioned themselves along the barrier between their current home and the foundation of their new one.
“Adam! Hey Adam! That’s my house!” Fourteen-year old Alexis points to the foundation being poured opposite the fence. A half dozen construction workers gather around a concrete mixer, focused on the job before them as a small fan club gathers to watch a dream come to fruition.
18-year old Chuy sits in his wheelchair, fingers laced through the fence, calling out to Adam Gellenbeck, Back2Back staff member and architect. “Hey, that’s my house, right?!”
Adam nods in encouragement, “It will be in six months!” He turns back to the task at hand, enjoying seeing the initial stages unfold.
On January 20th, Back2Back Mazatlán broke ground on two new homes for the children at Rancho de los Niño’s. This is the culmination of over a year of planning on the part of the staff. They’ve been dreaming about family-style housing for the sixteen children with disabilities who call Rancho home.
Backhoes dig dirt up and entertain the watching children as the foundation is poured. Each day the children take in the progress, witnessing a dream being laid down and a God who brings it to life.
“The vision is to take the children from institutional living to family-based care,” explains Adam.
“We want them to understand they will always be a family, but in a smaller setting, someone is better able to pay attention to their nutrition, their bedtimes, and their school progress.”
The updated Rancho de los Niño’s is designed completely through the lens of providing safe spaces for the children to have freedom to safely play. There is support from among the local community, as volunteers come weekly and offer their talents to the project.
The two new buildings, with two apartments each, will house four kids per apartment and have space for caregivers and their children, as well. Each home will have access to a palapa, a basketball court, and a playground. This will provide connection opportunities for the kids with each other, the visiting mission team guests, the professional staff, and the local volunteers.
The current home will eventually be renovated into a therapy center for not only children at Rancho, but all children served with Back2Back Mazatlán.
“We see this as a place of healing. That healing will come from therapies as well as quality time spent together through physical and sensory activities, along with a specially designed pool and an additional palapa,” explains Adam.
Staff members and children daily watch the progress of their new home. While still in the early phases of construction, there is lots of excitement building as Chuy, Alexis, Julian, and the others line themselves up at the fence after school everyday. They take in the men working, loads of material driven in by trucks, and imagine the day they will have the freedom to play safely, within the perimeters of their new home.
“Hey, where will we watch TV? Where will we eat?” Chuy looks at Adam with a sparkle in his eye. As conversations and questions swirl, they anticipate the days of their own space – a living room, a kitchen, and a common play area where they can still see their friends everyday.
Alexis thinks about shooting a basketball on the newly poured court in his backyard; Chuy imagines resting underneath the palapa – a welcome reprieve from the hot sun. They watch the progress of their new home from their current one, and excitement abounds.
A mission team recently got to visit the construction site while serving the kids. It was the 14th anniversary of the home, and it was time to celebrate all God’s done and all He’s yet to do. Each team member and child was handed a rock and a marker and asked to think of their favorite Bible verse. Together, they wrote on each rock powerful promises and threw them into the foundation. The new Rancho de los Niño’s home will be built on the Gospel – a foundation of shared hope for generations to come.