Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Mi Nueva Casa – Let’s Build a Merry Christmas

Last November, thanks to a grant awarded by the Evan Cornish Foundation, we embarked on a project called ‘Mi Nueva Casa – Let’s Build a Merry Christmas’, which aimed to build seven new houses for vulnerable families living in Villa Maria del Triunfo (Lima, Peru).

Housing in Villa Maria
Access to adequate housing is a big issue in many of the communities we work with in Villa Maria. Many families have been forced (due to a lack of space) to set up home in the most exposed areas, often cutting precarious platforms into the hillsides to erect their homes. A typical ‘house’ will be made from scraps of corrugated iron, wood and plastic patched together to form some kind of basic shelter.

On top of the psychological impact of living in such a makeshift dwelling, these families are also jeopardising their health by living in poorly insulated, draughty and damp conditions. This combination of inadequate housing and cold, wet weather during the winter months leaves children and the elderly particularly susceptible to respiratory illnesses and infections.

Let's Build a Merry Christmas
The seven families benefiting from this project were all in desperate need of a new home; already struggling to make ends meet, they simply did not have the economic resources to be able to improve their living conditions without assistance.

The new houses we build are single-storey wooden constructions that can be put together in a matter of days. Although they are still relatively basic, these solid homes are warm, stay dry and offer protection from the wind. Another great advantage is that they cost relatively little to buy and make.

Construction of the houses was led by our experienced Project Manager, Alejandro Menendez, and Head Builder, Luis Beltran, who assessed each family’s housing situation to understand exactly what they needed. Different members of the community also got involved to help build the seven houses, including a group of teenagers from San Miguel and a local athletics group. In less than a month all the houses were built; just in time for the families to spend their first Christmas in their new home.

Videos of all 7 houses  Have  a look at our YouTube videos to see the construction of each house.

Meet the beneficiaries
Find out the stories behind two of the families we helped during this project.

1. Señora Jacqueline Chahuayo
Señora Jacqueline Chahuayo is a single mother with a three year old child, and another one on the way. Her old house, made of bits of broken plywood patched together, was falling apart; there were also holes in the roof, which meant that rain water got in. Due to the damp living condition her daughter would often get ill.

Since the rebuild the house is much more secure and stays dry which Señora Chahuayo feels will vastly improve her daughter’s health. She is very grateful and never thought that she would receive this kind of help. 
“I’d like to thank the project and these young boys. I can now spend Christmas in my new house with my daughter, a house that’s insulated and won’t let the cold in. I'm very happy with my new house.”
2. Señora Yudith Pérez
Señora Yudith Pérez lives with her husband, Fernando Tolentino, and their three children. This house was built in response to an emergency construction need, as their previous house had been destroyed by a passing helicopter. An aeroplane had crashed in the hills of Villa Maria and when the search and rescue helicopters passed overhead, the force of their propellers caused the family’s humble home to collapse. They were left with nothing.

By building them a new home they had somewhere safe to spend time as a new family and celebrate Christmas in their new house. The family were so appreciative of all the support they received and the difference this will make to their lives.

Mi Nueva Casa
The construction of these seven houses forms part of an ongoing project that we have been running since 2007; we have now built 91 new houses to date. In this way we are slowly increasing the access to adequate housing in the district of Villa Maria and helping families have a safe place to call home.  Click here to find out more about our project and how you can help.                          

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