Casita Linda’s process of selecting a family to build a home for (gratis) in San Miguel de Allende is as important as the construction of the home. On staff is a Director of Social Services, a Mexican citizen that has decades of experience in all levels of public and private services for the poor. The Director and a designated Board representative survey a map of all the surrounding neighborhoods/barrios/ejidos that encompass San Miguel de Allende. These properties were formed after the Mexican Revolution in the early 1900’s when huge tracts of land were divided into grids for the poor families that worked the land.
Casita Linda’s team goes into these ejidos, and meets with the elected representative/delegado. They determine the number of people who live in shelters of found materials, and if these families own the small lots that they live on. Casita Linda informs these families that there will be a thorough investigation and interview process to determine who will be selected for a free home. Casita Linda has a very detailed criterion that these families must initially meet to be considered by the Board of Directors. The standard that must be met for selection is:
This information for each prospective family is compiled in a report that lists each member’s age, sex, and relationship. The report is presented to the Casita Linda Board of Directors at their monthly meeting for discussion and approval. If a family is selected, the construction of the home is begun within a few weeks. The home takes four weeks to build. A dedication ceremony is done for each home/family and a Casita Linda plaque is presented and attached to the home with their family name on it.
The dedication of the home is not the end of Casita Linda’s involvement with the selected family. Workshops and programs are provided on family planning, health, nutrition, education, employment opportunities, and home maintenance. Over five hundred people were provided comfortable, decent homes and Casita Linda’s social services thanks to the contributions from groups and individuals. This is all being accomplished for only $6,500 USD per home.
Casita Linda A.C. is fortunate to have benefited from the actions of one individual and his family. Alex Renaud, who learned of Caisita Linda through GlobalGiving, is a thirteen year old living in London with his family. He choose Casita Linda because “it is a small Mexican NGO and to respect my mother’s heritage, and that my actions would have a greater impact on a smaller charity. My money can make a real difference to these people with an immediate tangible impact.” Alex climbed the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet) in February 2013. He is the youngest of his group and raised over $55K USD through GlobalGiving for Caisita Linda AC.
As you are aware, Casita Linda’s mission is to provide environmentally compatible, low cost, comfortable homes to families living in extreme poverty who reside in greater San Miguel de Allende Mexico. In addition we provide guidance and programs for families to improve their health, education, and maintenance of their homes and communities.
Casita Linda was founded in the harsh winter of 2001 after several people died as a result of inadequate handmade shelters made of found scrap materials. Casita Linda realized that constructing homes had an immediate and long term effect on the health and wellbeing of the families’ who received them. Casita Linda continued with the concept of creating workshops and programs to promote good hygiene habits, diet, ecological sustainability, and social development. The people in inadequate shelters are at an increased risk of dying prematurely and suffer from a wide range of health problems, including seizures, chronic pulmonary disease, musculoskeletal disorders, tuberculosis, and skin/ foot problems. Children go hungry at twice the rate of other children and they have three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems.
Alex Renaud and his extended family (from all over the globe) decided to visit San Miguel de Allende in August 2013. They were able to see firsthand the immediate impact of Alex’s efforts resulting from his heroic climb in February 2013 and the charitable donations he raised. Alex and his family toured the country side, five months after the climb, and viewed the seven homes and the forty five individuals he was able to help. After the tour, Alex was gracious enough to speak in Spanish to hundreds of local school children on the importance of education and all individuals’ role to give something back to their community. He had an amazing journey. His quest was the result of his determination to achieve something much larger than acclaim for himself. As a result Casita Linda awarded Alex (the first recipient) of the “Spirit of Hope” medal. GlobalGiving is the catalyst for Casita Linda to reach contributors internationally and assist us in our mission. We thank all of our donors, both large and small, who make it possible to provide over twenty four houses per year for over one hundred and fifty impoverished individuals. We are only limited in helping families by the amount of money we receive. Ninety five prevent of the donations Casita Linda receives go directly to families in need.
Casita Linda has proven to it's donors that it will continue to create the best possible house for our impoverished families living outside of San Miguel de Allende Mexico. In April 2013, Casita Linda announced the launching of a Mexican National Design Competition for all Architects and students throughout the country. It will be judged this September by three of Mexico's most internationally recognized Architects: Victor Legorreta - Legorreta + Legorreta; Mauricio Rocha - Taller de Arquitectura; and Luis Sanchez-Renero - Sanchez Arcquitectos. This is a historic undertaking since this has never been done by any organization for the lowest income family living in Mexico. The submissions will be evaluated on aesthetics, cost, ease of construction, and earth friendly materials without sacrificing comfort for the families. The top three winners of the competition, along with the jurors, will be honored on October 12, 2013 at the Casita Linda, A.C. Spirit of Hope Gala at Las Ventanas in San Miguel de Allende. Casita Linda, A.C. will construct the winning design in December 2013.
We have continued our search for new materials and refined techniques to the point now that we have two full-time local work crews who are able produce two houses per month. Our last recipient of this home was the Reyes family who were living in a hand-made shelter of found materials (mostly cardboard). The parents and their six year old and eleven month old daughters lived on the Ejido community just on the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende where they lived in constant fear that they would be robbed of what little that they had. The father had the only income as a night baker which produced a monthly salary of only 2,400 pesos. This income is considered to be extreme poverty as defined by the World Bank. They qualified for a new home to be constructed because of their low income, their ownership of the land, their dedication to keep the children educated, and the fact there was no history violence in the home. Each recipient is also required to help the crew build their home and Senor Reyes would come home from his night shift to dig the foundations for the house. He continued working until it was complete and the family could live secure and be comfortable.
During 2013 Casita Linda will build 16 homes for families who need a safe, warm, dry place to live. This represents double the number of homes we built in 2011.
We have reduced the time for construction of a casita to 5 weeks or less for completion. This is possible for several reasons. In 2012 we hired a second crew of workers to expand the impact we have on our community by building more homes for people living in extreme poverty. Now we have two houses being built at one time.
The crew members are full time employees and receive benefits like medical insurance. Unlike most construction workers who have temporary jobs, our employees know they will have work as long as they perform well. We are seeing a very high level of motivation and commitment from our crews. They know their hard work will lead to other families having a better life in a new casita.
A number of our crew members were recipients of a Casita Linda houses themselves. When they worked on their own house we were impressed by their skills and hard work and we decided to offer them a job. We are very pleased to provide jobs for nine families with our two crews, as well as build houses for those who need adequate shelter.
We are screening and qualifying families at a much faster rate because of our full time Mexican social worker who is focused on family selection. She also works with other nonprofit organizations in San Miguel to help our families access services they need. Having a regular process we follow for gathering information about the families, such as documents about their ownership of their land, proof their children are attending school, employer verification of income and a home visit to interview the parents, has improved our ability to select families who qualify in a shorter period of time.
Early this year we completed a house for Ana, a single mother with 5 children. Her situation was very difficult with a series of temporary living arrangements and no hope of being able to buy land for a casita. She supported her family by carrying trash for people to the garbage trucks on the days the trucks came to her neighborhood. She made a little money from tips from the people in the neighborhood and she sometimes found things in the trash which she sold, but she could not provide a real home for her children.
A group of women in the neighborhood found out about Ana and were very concerned her children were not going to school because they worked to help Ana collect trash. Plus they wanted Ana and her children to have a stable living situation. Calling themselves Ana’s Angels, they raised enough money to buy a small piece of land for a casita.
They approached Casita Linda and asked if Ana would qualify for a home. After careful screening it was clear Ana’s was the type of situation we want to improve. When Ana’s casita was completed it was a very happy day for all of us. Casita Linda, Ana’s Angels and Ana and her oldest child who is a sixteen year old boy, all worked to together to make the dream of a home a reality.
We are now completing our 57th casita! Casita Linda’s Board of Directors and I, on behalf of all the families we have served, thank you for your generosity. Providing these families with adequate homes and protection from the elements would be impossible without your financial support, your work as volunteers, and your encouragement of our efforts to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.
Families frequently put together shelters as best they can, using whatever materials are available.
(See picture #1 below)
The Jose Guadalupe Ramirez’s home (and a small “bucket garden”) is pictured above just prior to qualifying for a Casita Linda home.
Pictured below is a family's casita about half-finished. All family members typically pitch in and help build their home and the one before or after theirs.
(See picture #5 below)
Pictured below is a radiant Ramirez family having just moved into their newly painted home.
(See picture #2 below)
Marisol Soria de Ramirez, Marisol ,Gabriela, and Jetsemani Ramirez
Just below, Oscar and Geraldy Lara find out their family will be able to qualify for a “real” house and that construction will begin soon. They’re eager to help, as are their Mom and Dad, Oscar and Maria.
(See picture #3 below)
Here we see Oscar, Geraldy, and Maria Chavarria Lara, in front of their almost finished Casita.
(See picture #4 below)
Click on the link below to view a collage of photos showing many joyous families, smiling children, and colorful Casitas: https://www.facebook.com/Casita.Linda.AC/photos_stream
None of our officers or members of our Board of Directors receive wages or other benefits. The only individuals who receive any pay are the individuals on our 4 member Mexican construction team, our part-time office administrators, also Mexican, and several other part-time Mexican employees. We operate on a budget that is very carefully managed, and more than 90% of your contribution goes directly toward the construction of casitas. Check out this link for a brief picture of how we spend the donations received: http://casitalinda.org/en/who-we-are/financial/
As is unfortunately true in too many parts of the world, the past several years have become especially difficult for increasing numbers of families living on thin margins. We are of course hopeful that you and your friends, members of your family, and perhaps a local business or charitable organization in your town will be able to support our work this next year. We are very appreciative of your past donations. Let's hope 2013 brings more peace to the world and that the least fortunate among us are helped in some way through the generosity of individuals like you. Sincerely,
William Greenfield San Miguel de Allende
Casita Linda, A.C. Mexico
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San Miguel de Allende,
San Miguel de Allende,