skip navigation

Andras Horanyi Blog: Building Hope in Mexico

06/28/2015, 9:00am CDT
By Andras Horanyi

Epee fencer Andras Horanyi (right) helped build a house in a weekend for a family in Tijuana.

Four-time Senior World Team member Andras Horanyi (Colorado Springs, Colo.) took a break from training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center to travel to Mexico and participate in a home-building project for a local family in Tijuana. Check out what Andras has to say about this life-changing experience …

I recently spent a weekend in Tijuana, Mexico participating in a home build project.  I volunteered through a program called Hope Sports which was started by Guy East (who is currently a professional cyclist), with the idea to bring in athletes from around the world and teach them the importance of finding inner value through the act of service. Our team included bobsledders, skiers, speedskaters and myself.  

Hope Sports partners with Homes of Hope, an organization that builds homes in poverty-stricken areas around the world with the idea that they can make a lasting positive impact in those communities. Currently Homes of Hope has built more than 5,000 homes in 16 countries, and I had the privilege to help build one of those homes.

Something that I found interesting was that a family that has a well build home is more likely to stay together and their kids are more likely to stay in school and finish at the top of their class than those families that are living in harsher conditions. For example, a concrete floor (instead of a dirt floor which more people have) reduces major health issues by a considerable amount. I helped build a home for Hector, his wife, and their two amazing and beautiful daughters.  I hope that I was able to give this family a better chance of staying together, and reaching their dreams for a better life. I also hope that Hector’s two daughters are able to stay in school and have an even larger impact on their community then they would otherwise have had.

I was not sure what to expect when I got there, but one thing is for sure, I never realized how much I would learn and grow as much as I did through this experience. It is one thing to read and hear about poverty, and a completely different to see and experience it first-hand. Hector works more than 12 hours a day, six days a week, and makes $36 dollars a week.  It was absolutely eye-opening to see how much this family was able to do with what little they had; and how appreciative they were to even have as much as they did.

When we got to the build site the only thing that was there was a slab of concrete for a foundation and the materials to build a small house. We were supposed to build a house in 2 days! I was not sure how we were going to manage this, but the end result was astonishing.

I measured, cut, hammered, help put up walls, a roof, installed a window, and much more, and in the end what I learned had nothing to do with building at all.

I learned about community and to be thankful for my family, friends, and those who have helped me selflessly throughout my life. I learned about the importance of balance between life and sport. I learned about what joy, happiness, and being content with what you have really means. Most importantly, I learned that one of the ways to grow and understand not only yourself but also those around you is through serving others. I was only able to make a small impact in the world, but to this family I helped change their lives, and to me that was one of the most amazing and special experiences of my life.

I would encourage anyone to look into Hope Sports or any other similar organization and volunteer their time. I promise that you will gain more from that experience than you give, and that was certainly the case for me.

Tag(s): News  Andras Horanyi