California: The Ranch Christian Center and Orphanage

Today we divided into our small work groups and traveled by taxi to separate locations. Some groups went to The Wall, the giant fence where the USA/Mexican border meets the ocean, while others explored the streets of Tijuana and Rosarito. My group (Nikki, Dan, Jeong Ho, and Luca) had the pleasure of visiting “The Ranch”, a large community centered around a Christian Church, the Iglesia Bautista El Camino, a home for orphaned and abandoned children, a Mexican school, and a Christian English Bible College. We departed Las Rocas Hotel at 4:30 am and arrived at the compound at 5:00 am to attend an early morning bible class. After we visited some of the children’s classes and observed their daily routine, we sat down for a formal interview with Bob Walker, the American missionary who established the Ranch, and his son, A.J., a former student at the American school. Bob and A.J. gave us insight into their teachings of the Faith and how the children find salvation, as well as how “The Ranch” was established and how it continues to flourish. Afterwards, we interviewed Tiffany, an American missionary who has spent two months teaching at the Ranch. It was interesting to hear about the Ranch from a different and more relatable perspective. Once we completed our interviews and gathered tons of footage and photographs, we had the opportunity to play [and speak broken Spanish with] the kids from the home. We played soccer and basketball with them and they took us around the Ranch, showing us their animals and the activities they like to do after school.

Once we bid farewell to the children and the wonderful people at the Ranch, we headed back to Las Rocas for a quick nap and to prepare for our photo critique. At 2:30 pm, the whole group gathered in the conference room for three hours to share our photos with our amazing professional photojournalists Michael Robinson Chavez and Ron Haviv. They gave us extremely helpful feedback on our images, pointing out the aspects we did well and offering suggestions to improve our photographs both in post-production and in the field. After several hours of critique, we loaded the RVs and went to cross the border back to the USA.

Nikki Betuel

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Boys Field Kids School