Groups of Americans are challenging their government's warnings about the violence in Mexico and are crossing over into the municipality of Guadalupe Distrito Bravos to cooperate in the construction of an orphanage.

Groups of up to 30 people from all over the country are crossing the border into Mexico several times a year to help with building the future Casa de las Gemas, which will house more than 400 Mexican children in the town roughly 5 kilometers (3.5 miles) south of the border.

"Groups of young people and adults come for several weeks to help build the orphanage in Mexico, which has been constructed mainly by donations and aid from the United States. Up to now, we've been dealing with almost $6 million invested," Steven Brewer, pastor of Tapestries of Life ministries here in Fabens, told Efe.

Despite the warnings issued by the U.S. State Department not to travel to northern Mexico due to the violence linked to drug trafficking there, these Americans think more about helping those in need.

Joseph Markley, 19, had the chance to go to a beach in North Carolina on his summer vacation, but he preferred to go to Guadalupe to help with the construction.

"It's very gratifying to be here. To know that this building is going to be full of children who need so much help is incredible and even moreso when I'm working to make it possible. I know that here there's a lot of poverty because I see children on the streets of Guadalupe without shoes and asking for money," Markley said.

Scott Moseley, who is doing his second stint in Guadalupe, accompanied this time by his wife and children, said that people in his hometown of Newfield, New York, warned him that northern Mexico is a "war zone."

Volunteers have performed all sorts of work, from painting and setting up beds to installing electrical wiring, he told Efe.

For the past 15 years, when Brewer began the project to build the orphanage, which will be one of the largest in Latin America, about 24 different groups of volunteers have traveled to Fabens.

Daniel Romero, who has worked with Brewer for 12 years, said that the help of people from north of the border is a marvelous thing.

"They are so committed to the children of this area, they do their work with so much love. It's a shame that Americans have to do the work that we Mexicans or the government don't take the trouble to do," Romero told Efe.

Matt Furman, another volunteer from New York state, said that currently Guadalupe is a ghost town compared with five years ago, when he visited the area for the first time to collaborate in the construction of the orphanage, which is 90 percent finished.

Brewer said that when the violence hit the town of some 9,000 people, the U.S. aid groups began to diminish in numbers.

"Although the Americans who help me in the construction of the orphanage really never have been afraid, last year the volunteers didn't want to come and, definitively, it was because of the violence. Now, once again, we're seeing the Americans here in Guadalupe," Brewer said. 

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