Casita Linda, A.C. April 29, 2011
Quarterly Project Report www.casitalinda.org
I am happy to report that Casita Linda just recently completed building our 38th home for the desperately poor living in this area of Central Mexico.
In addition to bringing you up to date on several of our newest families for whom we have built homes, I am excited to report that we have improved our ability to tailor the size of our homes to the specific needs of the family to be served.
Up until recently we have been tied to a “one size fits all” model. This works fine when the family being served is large and needs all of the space in our regular casita – about 600 square feet, including two sleeping lofts.
Working with a University of Guanajuato architect, our construction team has figured out a way to use the same basic footprint as our regular casita, 13’ x 26’, but to modify it in two ways, making two other size casitas a possibility. What we now call the “medium” sized casita is 338 square feet, and it has no sleeping lofts. We simply lowered the barrel roof by about 6’, eliminating the lofts, resulting in a one-story house. We can still divide the space in various ways.
The third version, the “small” sized casita, is approximately 286 square feet. This is one-story, like the “medium”, except it is 4’ shorter in length. This size would be perfect for an elderly couple with no children, or a single mother with one child. Being able to choose among these three alternative sizes allows us to build in a more cost-effective manner, enabling our donors’ contributions to stretch further, serving more people and using less labor and materials.
We also have improved our building material. The bricks we use now are a step up from what we used previously. We did many houses with adobe blocks but they were very heavy and the walls required bracing (buttresses) to support the roof. While adobe is more "green" than the usual red brick, it is not as green as most people think. The adobe is laced with a petroleum product in order to waterproof it.
The grey block we now use consists of "tabicon", a material made from pumice. The tabicon is mixed with cement in a 10-1 ratio and voilá, we have a very light, very green, very strong brick with good insulating properties. There is less weight on the foundation, they are cheaper by about a third, and they are all exactly the same size and require no special preparation (enabling faster construction).
We are now on the 5th day of building Casita 39. Because of the needs of this extended family this house is the “regular” size, but is configured with three rooms on the ground floor, each with an exterior door. The two end rooms will be private accommodations for two different families while the center room is a sheltered common space which also has access to the loft, where a third family grouping will live.
Thanks to you and other donors, Fidencio and his extended family now have a small home that is safe and secure, and which will protect them from the severe winter weather and the upcoming rainy summer months.
There are countless others like Fidencio and his family. They are hardworking and industrious people whose fundamental quality of life would improve if they lived in a Casita Linda house. And so we ask for your help in making 2011 a record-breaking year in the annals of Casita Linda’s history. Your generosity, when combined with the gifts of others, will allow us to build at least 7 new homes this year. The need is truly urgent.
We invite you to share your thoughts and ideas with us. How might we further improve the living circumstances of these desperately poor families? Please add a comment to our report, or email your questions and suggestions to us directly: email@example.com
William Greenfield, Executive Director, Casita Linda, A.C., San Miguel de Allende, MX
Casita Linda, A.C. January 1, 2011
There were more than 18 days this past December (2010) when the temperature dropped below freezing at night, in the campo around San Miguel de Allende. That is cold by anyone’s definition!
Many of the families we serve are living in circumstances that don’t provide shelter from these freezing temperatures. This puts them at severe risk, and these conditions are particularly difficult for the elderly or for those who are already suffering from one illness or another.
I am happy to report that Casita Linda just recently completed building our 35th home for the desperately poor living in this area of Central Mexico.
Thanks to you and other donors, Juana Rendon and her family now have a small home that is safe and secure and which will protect them from the severe weather. We designed their home with a special room where Maria de la Luz, their disabled daughter, is able to do her weaving of small baskets to help supplement the family income. Thanks to your generosity, Juana, Maria, and her younger brothers Juan Gabriel and Mario Fernando, will have decent shelter this winter and for the foreseeable future.
Unfortunately, there still are many other families like Juana’s who need basic housing. The cold nights have an intense impact on the homeless. The fortunate ones live in humble dwellings covered by found pieces of tin or plastic tarp. The less fortunate families live in the open air, huddled together to battle the cold nights after the sun sets in this high desert region.
There are countless others like Juana and her family. They are hardworking and industrious people whose fundamental quality of life would improve if they lived in a Casita Linda house. And so we ask for your help in making 2011 a record-breaking year in the annals of Casita Linda’s history. Your generosity, when combined with the gifts of others, will allow us to build at least 7 new homes this year. The need is truly urgent.
Casita Linda, A.C. October 1, 2010
We just recently completed building our 35th home for the desperately poor living in Central Mexico.
Lorenza and Florencio Nolasco, pictured below with their family, live with their six children in the small Otomi village of San Miguel Viejo. The loss of their former home to a fire left them with only the shell of an abandoned mini-van in which to live.
This past Saturday, September 25, 2010, we had the official turning over of the Nolasco home to the family. Here is a brief summary of Casita Linda’s most recent effort:
1. We built an energy efficient Patsari Cooking Stove that will save Lorenza many hours of searching for wood for her cooking. This stove is 70% more efficient than the open wood-burning fire that typically is used by many rural Mexican families. Additionally, because the cooking fire will be located on the exterior of the home (rather than inside as is often the case), the family will not be breathing smoke (with the resulting high incidence of respiratory disease), as is unfortunately the case for many families. This stove was made possible through a special donation by an individual.
2. We added a solar panel so that when it is dark outside, the children can study at home, instead of under a streetlight. This solar electric system was made possible through a special donation by an individual.
3. There is a skylight in the roof so that the solar charged electrical battery will not have to be used during the daylight hours.
4. This casita also was connected to the municipal water main, which happened to be across the street. Because of the ready access to municipal water, we installed a shower and a flush toilet. We normally are not able to do this because the municipal water supply typically is not available to a property owner in many rural communities.
5. The whole house was wired so the family could, in the future, hook up to the electrical grid if that opportunity becomes available and is affordable for the family.
6. Stairs, as opposed to ladders, were built to give access to the sleeping lofts. This was an added safety feature for the children, several of whom are quite young and would have had difficulty climbing a ladder.
7. We also connected the two sleeping lofts by a wide walkway, providing more living space for the family.
We were able to add a number of atypical features to our latest house (a small solar electric system and a Patsari Cooking Stove) as a result of two special donors who wanted to see these particular items made available to this family. We are not at the present able to include this stove and the solar system as part of the basic home we build. However, we will be trying now to raise enough money to be able to include these items as part of our “basic” home.
Please click below to see photos of Casita Linda's work building houses in Mexico!
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San Miguel de Allende,
San Miguel de Allende,