In November, HFHA hosted two separate corporate brigades in the 22 de Enero community of La Matanza. Buenos Aires. The first, a group of twenty-seven employees, including the company’s CEO, participated in Daimler Financial’s “Day of Care” by joining HFHA staff and volunteers to assist families better their housing situations.
Spread throughout different construction sites, the teams worked on the two current Core Houses (also known as “Casa Semillas” or Seed Houses), including the one financed by the Daimler. They finished the first house’s septic well, and also worked on home improvements for families with and without HFHA loans. The brigade was hosted by Rita and her family, who gave the volunteers a chance to check out the advancements they have been able to complete on their own house after two Habitat Loans and technical assistance workshops during previous Habitat Tent events.
Through the course of the day, most of the volunteers were able to break from their work to tour the neighborhood with the HFHA’s social worker and resource development coordinator. The tour allowed the volunteers to gain a more profound understanding of HFH Argentina´s work and projects. It included visits to other Habitat homes, cultural and demographic information about the community, and an explanation of the current needs and challenges facing the residents of “22 de Enero.” Just as we use our Global Village program to show foreign visitors something more than tourist attractions, corporate brigades give Argentines an opportunity to experience a reality very different from their own.
A few weeks later, while our friends in the United States were enjoying their Thanksgiving turkey, a corporate brigade from Cisco Argentina visited La Matanza for a one-day brigade. Cisco has been a strong supporter of the organization for years now, and has joined HFHA in the field by sending brigades in the past. The team was joined by two brigade assistants from HFHA’s national office, as well as the HFHA architect and a staff member from the resource development department. The Cisco employees were inspired by the dedication of the families. After hearing that one of the women was suffering from cancer, they tried to convince her to allow them to do the heavy labor but she insisted on working side by side with the team.
Volunteers started the day at one of the Core Houses, continuing the work the Daimler brigade started on the second Core House’s septic well. Others helped families without credit move construction materials so that they were more accessible to work with (dirt from a dry well, bagged sand and rocks to be used for concrete), as well as mixed cement to plaster walls. After lunch with some of the families, a small group switched from their morning activities to clean and paint tiles for a roof previously built by a family with a credit from Habitat. It was the perfect example of how Progressive Improvements and Corporate Brigades can complement each other: the family is the central actor in fulfilling their housing need but the effort of their fellow Argentines can assist them in bringing the final stages of the solution into reality.