Travel to Rosarito, Mexico and the Casa Estrella Orphanage Part Four

Updated May 21, 2011

Indeed the border towns of California and Baja California have redefined the region over the past several decades. Historian Robert Avarez focuses on ethnographic components of borderlands and finds contemporary perspectives on these territories. The local-level activities and contradiction between separate lands develops an identity of its own as a region. This is seen in the paradox of development in Tijuana versus the more traditional outlets of La Bufadora 70 miles south. The latter offers a more traditional composition of small homes and villages and a less developed land base.

Tijuana in contrast is a boom and bust shanty town with a red light district, gambling, and other debauchery that has also struggled from a downturn in tourism.

Radio host Philip Friedman of AM 830 KLAA in Anaheim was speaking about his April 2011 trip to Baja California and the Casa Estrella Orphanage in Rosarito. Philip and his organization travel every six months to the region to help the orphanage and usually take the girls out fishing for an outing. Friedman remarks often how well adjusted to life these young girls are and how grateful they are for everything they receive. The orphanage values the donations of time and effort from Friedman and Joe spoke on the air about the need for donations to sustain operations.

The focal point of Philip's trip to Rosarito was his visit to the Casa Estrella Orphanage. While many orphan children are neglected and given just the basic necessities of life, Joe and Esther raise more than twenty individual girls to adulthood offering education, love, and support for mind and body. Joe started a website at to help raise awareness from outsiders harnessing the power of the global internet. By reaching out to a broader spectrum with a larger collective wallet Joe was able to gain weekly donations from Costco in San Diego which gives about two thirds of the household’s monthly need for bread and grains.

The common religion is a binding point for the children along with Joe and Esther at Casa Estrella. There are posters and framed art on the wall with gospel and bible inspired quotations and motivational messages. Crosses adorn the walls and the children are taught to pray before bed. Similar to many other Mexican believers Joe and Esther ascribe to a small amount of folklore combinations with their traditions.

Still the driving factor of Christianity is an important part of the activities at home. In may be for a sense of hope to the hopeless at times to be able to believe in a larger power at play that is looking after the humble and meek. The girls accept the beliefs due to the generosity and care of Joe and Esther and the opportunities that they would not likely be part of at a city or government run orphanage like those in Mexico City where thousands of girls are housed in huge halls without the individual care that Joe and Esther provide.

Overall the ethnography of Casa Estrella is closely tied to Baja California traditions and create a bond between the girls and their caretakers. Common elements allow for a communications basis to develop relationships between the girls and their understandings of the world. The common Spanish language and background gives each girl a basis for relationship though they have little common ground in their histories aside from their orphan status. Learning the common words and grammar is something that each girl must go through. Older girls are looked up to for their knowledge and education which becomes a pint of guidance for their younger siblings. The eldest can help tutor and guide the youngsters and show them the importance of having an education.

Works Cited

Alvarez, Robert. “The Mexican-US Border: The Making of an Anthropology of Borderlands.” 1995.

Aschmann, Homer. “Historical Sources for a Contact Ethnography of Baja California.” California Historical Society Quarterly. June, 1965.

Owen, Roger. “A linguistically and Culturally Hybrid Social Unit”. American Artholopological Association. Oct 19, 2009.

Young, Emily. “State Intervention and Abuse of the Commons: Fisheries Development in Baja California Sur, Mexico”. Annals of the Association of American Geographers.

Volume 91, Issue 2, 2001, Pages 283 - 306