Although the “Casa Semilla” (“Seed House”) housing solution is still only a couple of years old, it has been a promising addition to our “Desarrollo de Barrios” (“Developing Neighborhoods”) project. There are new completed seed houses in both La Matanza and Santa Fe, and construction on the next set of houses began in the second half of 2011.
With a seed house, families receive a larger loan than they would for an incremental improvement, as well as training throughout the build process. With these funds and the help of volunteers, Habitat architects and technical consultants, they build a sound structure with a functioning indoor kitchen-living room area, bathroom and one bedroom. Through this solution, they create a protective, healthy and solid foundation for their family, with the proper infrastructure already in place, and they acquire the necessary skills to eventually expand the house.
Last September, we held a weeklong construction event “Semillas de Esperanza”(“Seeds of Hope”) in 22 de Enero in La Matanza, Buenos Aires. Throughout the week, volunteers helped build three seed houses for families currently living in precarious structures. All the families are led by single mothers (Fabiana, Graciela and Miguelina) living in extreme poverty under especially difficult conditions who yearn to make better lives for their children. We are pleased to report that the houses begun that week are now in the final stages of completion, thanks to the dedication and hard work of the supervising architect, Carlos, the families and volunteers.
The construction process at the other seed house in 22 de Enero is also moving along nicely. With the help of volunteer brigades and their high capacity for auto-construction, owners of one of the seed houses, Laura and Daniel, are already in the second stage of building after only a month and a half.
Similarly, the four seed houses in Santa Fe are coming together, brick by brick. The Pereyra Paselli family is almost done with stage 2, as they have raised the walls and installed pipes for the bathroom plumbing. Once they get their work certified, they can begin stage 3 with the new materials recently delivered from the lumberyard – another step closer to a new house! In addition, a brigade made up of HPHA employees, local volunteers, neighbors, other recipient families, and members of the civil association Rayo de Luz recently joined the technical consultant in visiting and helping out with construction tasks at two of the seed houses.
One of these, the house of Nestor and Maria in the city of Recreo, Santa Fe, is nearly complete! Nestor originally heard about Habitat through a coworker at the factory where he works. His friend was involved through former HPHA project “Levantémonos y Construyamos” (“Rise Up and Build”). Nestor and Maria have worked very hard over the last year, struggling with rising costs due to inflation and handling a lot of the construction on their own.
They are very grateful to have received multiple Global Villages to help them with their house and for the opportunity for cultural exchange. Although it was challenging for Nestor to oversee such a large group of foreign volunteers, he understood its importance, especially in demonstrating why the houses are built here in a certain way (as opposed to how houses are built in the U.S.). He was also duly impressed by how the men and women of the teams worked in equal roles. The couple was able to complete construction projects that, without the help of the brigades, would have required Nestor to contract workers. The couple plans to move in by the end of the month. They are very happy to no longer have to rent and to finally have a place to call home.
Maria: “It was a lovely experience because even without knowing the language, we understood each other – there was nothing missing from our dialogue.”
Nestor: “I really admire them [the Global Village volunteers] because they came from so far away without receiving anything in return…From this I learned how wonderful it feels to help another without any expectations, without receiving anything in exchange.