Walter and his family live at “22 de Enero”, an informal settlement in the outskirts of the city of Buenos Aires. He connected with Habitat through its Habitat Tent event, during which volunteer architects, lawyers and other professionals give free assistance to low income families that are in need of adequate housing but lack the technical knowledge to carry out their housing solution.
At the Habitat Tent of November 27th, Walter mentioned his housing dream for the first time and asked for assistance to improve his house. The team of architects discussed his case and concluded that Walter’s situation would benefit from a more in-depth consultation, so they returned to Walter’s house two weeks later. When they arrived, they ran into Walter’s wife, who said “I told Walter, ‘Your volunteers will never come back.’…But here you are!”
Walter was very excited to get started, quickly setting the table and offering the guests “mate” as he, his wife and son began to describe the house they want to build. He said he would build this house in 10 years, the house of his dreams. He acknowledged that this was not a short-term goal, but rather one that would require lots of time and patience. He knows what his hard work will result in – a finished house within which his family could grow and succeed – but he was unsure how exactly to get there. He needed the volunteers to help him turn his dream into a reality.
The architects started drawing the features Walter described. Among other details, he mentioned the likely expansion of his family and his resulting desire to have a small light in the corridor that would stay lit after nightfall so that the children would feel comfortable using the bathroom during the middle of the night. Walter’s dream gradually started to have measures, dimensions, materials, stages. From this process, his dream coalesced into a blueprint, and the how that Walter was looking for emerged. The architects outlined the tasks he will have to perform and how to do them. They also gave him an estimate of the materials he will need to buy for each stage, for example, number of bricks and cement bags for the walls of a new bedroom. The architects and Walter then walked around his plot of land, marking the placement of different parts of the future house and indicating how deep the foundations should be dug.
Half an hour later, Walter surprised the volunteers by inviting them to the inauguration of the house of his dreams and asked Diego (one of the volunteer architects) to become the godfather of the house. Diego accepted.
Diego and the other two volunteers will visit Walter on a regular basis in order to continue supervising Walter’s progress and sharing the experience. Walter is looking forward to those visits and is hoping to one day receive volunteer brigades to help him build his dream.