This year has been an important one for Casita Linda. We completed our 50th casita for a family which was a milestone for our organization. And we recruited a second construction crew which we are training to build casitas with the goal of completing a minimum of 16 homes each year.
Our long term employees have worked closely with the new crew members to show them the way the casitas are constructed. The second crew will enable us to double the number of families we help each year in the San Miguel de Allende, Mexico area.
At the same time we expanded our building capacity, we have engaged the help of a Mexican social services professional who is responsible for family selection. To qualify for a home, a family must own a small piece of land or be close to making their final payments on a lot. Sometimes a family has inherited a small parcel from their parents or have been able to buy land very inexpensively from a government program.
To quality for a casita the family must either live on the land now or be willing to have a family member stay at the construction site. This is to protect materials and equipment which must be stored while their casita is built. All of the families have extremely low income levels which are verified by personal interviews and a visit to where they currently live.
The second phase of selection includes an assessment of the current structure they are living in, if one exists. These small structures are often made of "found objects", with no flooring, inadequate roofing, no windows or doors. Most do not have running water or even a latrine.
We are particularly interested in helping families with children who are of school age, where the parents will commit to encouraging the children to attend school regularly. Parents are expected to work or be actively looking for employment. And they must agree to help with the construction of their house to the extent that this is possible. Sometimes single mothers will help clear the lot or carry buckets of sand. Even small children lend a hand carrying a building block at a time.
When their casita is finished, a family can choose the colors they want to have it painted. Volunteers paint the exterior of the new casita with help from the family and typically the family paints the interior themselves. Many times the family delays the official celebration of their new home until they can finish all the painting and plant flowers outside their new home.
We have some more good news from Casita Linda. On Thursday, May 31, we had the "House Warming" in which we formally turned over Casita Linda #48 to the Corte Gonzalez family. The family consists of father (David), mother (Georgina), an older daughter (Itzel) and son (Daniel). David, Georgina and Itzel work while the teenage son, Daniel, goes to school. David and Georgina lived on the property in a "casa de lamina" and the children lived elsewhere, with family or friends, while their new home was being constructed. You can see below a picture of the “found materials” living situation that now has changed dramatically with their recently finished casita. Since this casita is off the city utilities grid, we prepared this house for the future. We added a water harvesting system for the rain water to be directed into a small (1,100 litre) cistern, and when funding comes through we will build large (12,000 litre) cistern. We've also installed orange conduit for electrical wires as well as electrical boxes for lights and switches. When the neighborhood does get electrical power, the family will be ready for connection. The lot is big enough for composting and gardening so this family will be directed to our special projects group to get them started on composting and building a small raised-bed vegetable garden.
Casita Linda’s Board of Directors and I, on behalf of all the families we have served, thank you for your generosity.
We are extremely grateful to those of you who have involved not only yourselves but have invited your family and friends to support us financially. Our ability to provide adequate housing for those living in extreme poverty in Mexico simply would be impossible without you.
We have just handed over Casita #46 to the Aguilar Gómez family. Their new home is located on Nicolás Bravo 7 in Colonia San Rafael, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. See the attached picture.
The family is headed by the mother, Maria Francesca and includes the grandmother Maria de la Luz, two sons, Luis Felipe and Victor, and a daughter, Xitlali Mariana.
The elderly grandmother, Maria de la Luz, is very frail, and has diabetes and only one leg. Luis Felipe is working as a bricklayer, while Victor and Xitlali attend school. Xitali received a scholarship last year and she hopes to get another this year.
This family lived quite simply. They had no table or chairs and the dishes were stored on the floor. There were bunk beds and a mattress on the floor for the adults. At first the family was very shy of strangers. However, as the project continued, they began to come out of their shells and contributed fully to the construction of their new home.
The casita (means "Pretty Little House") we built for them is our large model with a separate bedroom, with beds, for the mother and grandmother. The children sleep upstairs in the loft. See the attached picture.
Additionally the family now has a stove, running water, a water catchment tank, a flushing toilet, and a large exterior sink for washing dishes and clothes. Because of Maria de la Luz's need for a wheelchair, we put in a thin concrete pad rather than the usual brick floor, and we included ramps to provide her with easier access in and out of the house.
The Construction of #47 has now begun, thanks to our donors’ generosity!
This next casita will dramatically improve the living conditions for a family that has lived on their land for four generations. It is led by the gentle Juana who is already working hard on her new home. See the attached picture.
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, and our Assistant Director, Lucia Wright Contreras, also a Mexican. Lucia graduated recently from the University of Guanajuato and is a bilingual architect with a strong background in building more adequate housing for those living in extreme poverty. We operate on a budget that is very carefully managed, and more than 90% of your contribution goes directly toward the construction of casitas. This past year has been a particularly lean one for Casita Linda, and we are of course hopeful that you and your friends or members of your family will be able to support our work this next year. We are very appreciative of your past donations.
Please contact us if you would like to learn how to hold a very simple fundraiser to benefit the families Casita Linda serves. Let's hope 2012 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,
Saul Whynman, President, Casita Linda, A.C., San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
I and Casita Linda’s Board of Directors, on behalf of all the families we have served, thank you for your generosity. We are extremely grateful to those of you who have involved not only yourselves but have invited your family and friends to support us financially. Our ability to provide adequate housing for those living in extreme poverty in Mexico simply would be impossible without you. We are finishing our 46th casita as I write, and slowly but surely, with your help and that of others, we are developing the internal infrastructure we need to most effectively meet our broad goal of altering the destiny of poverty for the families for whom we are able to build these modest homes.
We now have three casita models on the same footprint (small, medium, and large) and are thus able to better adjust the casita size to a family's actual needs. We have this year also been organizing a donor database to enable us to more systematically reach out to and keep in touch with all those good people who have been so generous over the years. We are visiting each family for whom we have built a casita to assure everything is in good working order, that children are in school, and that everyone has enough to eat. The smiles on the faces of Maria del Pilar and her two daughters, Maria Cristal and Karla, tell the story. 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, and our Assistant Director, Lucia Wright Contreras, also a Mexican. Lucia graduated recently from the University of Guanajuato and is a bilingual architect with a strong background in building more adequate housing for those living in extreme poverty. We operate on a budget that is very carefully managed, and more than 90% of your contribution goes directly toward the construction of casitas. This has been a particularly lean year for Casita Linda, and we are of course hopeful that you and your friends or members of your family will be able to support our work this next year. We are very appreciative of your past donations. Let's hope 2012 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.
Casita Linda, A.C. October 30, 2011
Quarterly Project Report www.casitalinda.org
I am happy to report that Casita Linda just recently completed building our 43rd 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 are well on our way to completing a record nine houses in 2011. As noted in our Fall Newsletter, with the completion of this casita, a total of 48 individuals, one as young as four months of age, will have been placed in small, safe and secure Casita Linda homes thus far in 2011.
We are very proud of this achievement and of our Mexican construction team, our volunteer coordinators, and our short-term visiting volunteers who stop by to help us while they are vacationing in San Miguel de Allende. However, if it were not for the incredible generosity and continuing support of our donors there would be little to celebrate. We truly depend on your financial contributions. And there is no such thing as a “too small” donation. Every donation makes a difference for a family in need of adequate housing. Pictured below are “before” and “after” pictures that reflect the improved housing Casita Linda provides with your help:
Please click on the 1st attachment --- "Before"
Please click on the 2nd attachment --- ""A Proud Family"
We are now on the 5th day of building Casita 44. Because of the needs of the Gomez family and the fact that there had been a partial foundation previously built on their property, we slightly modified our medium size casita to take advantage of the existing construction. This enabled us to proceed more rapidly than normal and allowed us to take full advantage of the layout of the lot.
Thanks to you and other donors, Aguilar Gomez and his family now have a small home that is safe and secure, and which will protect them from the upcoming freezing temperatures common during the winter months. Many do not realize it but because San Miguel de Allende is located in Mexico’s high desert area in the middle of the country, winter temperatures often approach the 32 degree level at night in the countryside. Here are a couple of young sisters delighting in their new sleeping loft:
Please click on the 3rd attachment --- ""Sisters Survey Their New Loft"
There are countless others like Aguilar 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 2012 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 8 new homes during the coming 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
William Greenfield, Executive Director, Casita Linda, A.C., San Miguel de Allende, MX
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San Miguel de Allende,
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