Casita with exterior paint and landscaping.
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.
New crew members working on their first casita.