She Looked Me in the Eye

I first met Maria nearly four years ago, as we began construction on her family’s new house.

Along with her husband and children, she had recently moved to Puerto Peñasco from Sierra de Chihuahua looking for better opportunities for their family. Besides an uncle, they didn’t know anyone here. They were starting over.

On that February day, as I approached the makeshift house they had constructed using wooden pallets and sheets of plastic, the first thing that struck me about Maria was that as she reached out to shake my hand, she wouldn’t look me in the eye. She kept her head down, looking at my feet.

Maria maintained a similar disposition over the next several weeks as construction continued on her house. One time she offered me some fresh, delicious, handmade tortillas at lunch time. But even then, she didn’t say much and still didn’t raise her gaze.

Once we finished construction on her house, I didn’t have much personal contact with Maria. But I heard that Monchi, one of our community development trainers, had built a relationship with Maria. They met regularly, Monchi teaching her to read and write in Spanish (Maria’s first language was an indigenous dialect).

Monchi and others continued to invest in caring for Maria. And as Maria gained new skills in the context of genuine community, her confidence grew.

Earlier this year, I attended the dedication for house #1000 in 1MISSION’s history—for a family that happens to live next door to Maria. As the ceremony was about to begin, I saw Maria walking over. Wearing her best for this special occasion, I was amazed seeing her walking confidently with her head held high.

When she extended her hand to greet me, she smiled and looked me right in the eye.

This kind of transformation will take your breath away. It’s the kind of experience that makes everything we do worth it. And it’s a testament not just to Maria’s own resilience but also to the faithful commitment of local staff like Monchi who show up, day after day, to build community one house—indeed, one relationship—at a time.

“My life has changed because now we have a house, where we can all sleep safely under the same roof,” Maria says. “And Monchi has helped me a lot. She has been here with us. We always enjoy chatting and drinking coffee together.”

When you partner with 1MISSION, you make these stories of transformation possible.

During this season of giving, will you make a one-time gift of $60, $125, or $500?

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