The orphanage has a rich history that is exciting with many twists and turns! Below is a basic timeline and some pictures that tell the story.
     
Before 1974 -
  Tony Ralphs (founder of the orphanage) had been thinking and talking about the idea of helping poor children in Mexico. No significant action was taken, but the seed was planted and ideas were being generated.
     
1974 -
  Tony finally felt the call in his life for something different than he had been living. He decided a drastic change was in order and then headed down to Mexico. Growing up in Newport Beach and always living in the Southern California region, moving to Tijuana was a big change for Tony. When in Tijuana, Tony meet a nun who helped poor children and, through her inspiration and guidance, settled in Colonia Pedregal de Santa Julia. Since there was no housing or shelter, Tony acquired an old school bus to live in for the first two years. Some of the first children are pictured below.
     
   

Alejandro & Julieta

Tony with the Old Bus
     
1976 -
  Colonia Pedregal de Santa Julia, one of the poorest areas of Tijuana, became Tony's home. After the first two years Tony had learned the lay of the land, made some friends, and had a much better idea of how to help the children. Tony's next step was to make his situation and presence more permanent. He did this by buying some land in the Colonia and then building a very simple structure. At the time, he bought two large lots for about $14,000.
     
1977 -
  The new house was finished early in the year and it quickly filled up. There were about 90 people living in the simple structure, 17 of which were babies. It was very primitive back then, as the house had no beds, running water, or electricity. Of course, the streets were not paved either. Also, there was only one outhouse on the property for all 90 people. During this time, Tony took in anyone who needed the help. Below are some photos of the original buildings. Also, check out the Los Angeles Times article, "The Pied Piper of Tijuana's Shantytown", here.
     
   

Behind the Original Orphanage

Looking Downstairs
     
   

The Old Pool Was Here

A Downstairs Room
     
   

Dinner in the Original Dining Room
     
1981 -
 
The picture below was taken behind the original orphanage with a group of kids which are now in their thirties. At this point, the orphanage building was about 4 years old.

   

A Group of Kids Behind the Orphanage
     
1985 -
  While in the United States, Tony met Pilar. They fell in love and got married. At the time, Tony did not know how big of a role Pilar would play with the orphanage. Luckily, she saw the orphanage and loved it. She is now the director.
     
   

Tony & Pilar at a Birthday Party
     
1991 -
  By this time, it was clear that new orphanage buildings were needed. To help remedy the situation a group of volunteers from a Presbyterian church in Washington State came down to the orphanage. They helped to build a much-needed new building for the orphanage.
     
1992 -
  The Presbyterian volunteers felt that it was such a moving experience to come down to Tijuana and build for the orphanage, they wanted to do it again the following year. However, the orphanage did not need any new buildings. So, they decided to start building houses for poor people in and around the community of Colonia Pedregal de Santa Julia. These house building projects later evolved into their own operation and mission called Homes Without Boundaries.
     
   

House Design (12' by 24')
     
1996 -
  Omar Ruiz, one of the children who grew up in the orphanage, graduates from college. This marks the first child from the orphanage to graduate from college. Omar studied to become an electrical engineer. Now, there are a number of children who have graduated from college and continued to become school teachers, architects, and other notable professions.
     
   

Omar Ruiz
     
2005 -
  Construction at the orphanage was once again needed as the buildings were deteriorating rather quickly. A new building was started that would house the entire orphanage and provide more room for the kids to play outdoors. In addition, this new larger building would serve as a community center for the neighborhood. Currently, construction is underway and almost finished. Check out the Construction Page for more information.
     
   

Construction is Here!
     
2006 -
  More than 30 years after its founding the "Hogar" has made a name for itself and earned a solid reputation in Tijuana. Groups and individuals from all over the United States and Canada have come to visit and help in one capacity or another.