Vuelta de Realidad Exchange Program

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A Different Kind of Poverty
It is easy to see the material poverty in the slums of a Mexican border town. It’s not always so easy to see the hunger that exists here in the United States – in even the most affluent suburbs. The hunger for meaning. The hunger to make a difference with one’s life, the hunger to find purpose, the hunger to leave the planet better than one found it. This spiritual hunger is as deep and as painful as physical hunger. And in some respects they are the same in that one is a reflection of the other.

Rancho Feliz understands that many of our young people here in the U.S. are experiencing a “poverty of purpose” in an environment of unparalleled abundance. This poverty somehow fosters…..strangely……the same primal fear, alienation, loneliness and emptiness that haunt the abandoned children of Agua Prieta. This awareness motivated Rancho Feliz to create the “Volunteers in Residence” Exchange Program.

Feeding their Souls
Now, volunteers from all over the U.S., and even overseas, come to Agua Prieta (a 200-mile drive from Phoenix), to stay at the Exchange Dormitory and feed their souls by serving the less fortunate. In the barrios of Agua Prieta the volunteers discover a world very different from their own. No CD’s, I-Pods, MP3’s, or video games, no television or shopping malls—only the knowledge that just across the border, not that far from their own sheltered homes, people like themselves live in the most desperate conditions.

The volunteers carry this new-found knowledge back across the border into their own homes, helping family members to re-engage, and saving themselves from the alienation and indifference that seem to plague so many young lives. The ultimate result is a profound sense of gratitude and a reweaving of the moral fabric of our own local communities.

The “Guardian Warrior” Exchange Dormitory & Program
Designed to accommodate families, singles and youth groups, the Exchange Dormitory is located just across the border. Rustic but clean, it includes a cafeteria kitchen, dining room/meeting hall with a large fireplace, and a laundry room. Four private rooms with their own bathrooms accommodate up to four people each and large Girl’s and Boy’s dormitory rooms sleep up to 20 each and contain their own showers and bathrooms. A large private room with a full bath is also available for group leaders and chaperones. A menu of “work projects” is provided which includes conducting food distributions, building homes for deserving families, installing new roofs, caring for the seniors and teaching the children English or computer literacy. There is $20 per night per person donation charge. Reservations are required and the facility is currently averaging over 1,000 volunteers per year.

The “Guardian Warrior” Exchange Program is administered by Agua Prieta resident, Alejandro Laureano. Contact Alejandro at or (520) 227-6253.

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