TECHO Construction – Building Houses to Fight Poverty
Have you ever thought about volunteering? Do it! There are so many opportunities and amazing projects out there that are just looking for enthusiastic people like you. Be it at your won school or in your own community or abroad, there is always a way to contribute and help. You don’t get money for the work you do but you get payed much more than that. This is an example of how volunteers can make a difference in the lives of people.
The past weekend about 120 volunteers mainly from Costa Rica, the USA, and Canada worked hand in hand with the locals of Agriportica to make a dream come true for twelve families – an own house. In total, we built 12 houses in just two days under the heat of the tropical sun.
The construction weekend is just the final step of a long phase of planning and organizing. Probably the hardest part of realizing a construction project like that is collection the required funding. On the contrary, there are more than enough volunteers willing to donate their time and effort to this cause. I’m still amazed by the number of TECHO volunteers all over Latin America that work to fight poverty with all means possible.
This memorable weekend started out in San José where we met and waited for the Bus. The bus would take us to a school in rural Limon where we would sleep. We arrived there at about 11:30 pm and blew up our air mattresses in the school’s gym and those who were hungry had a very late dinner.
Some of the Costa Rican Volunteers were already quite experienced at building houses because they have been to many other construction weekends before. Those were the ones that led the groups and gave instructions to the less experienced volunteers. I was part of a team of 8 volunteers. We were the only group without Gringos. I guess in that case, I was the Gringa of our group.
On Saturday we spent all day, from sunrise to sunset, with digging holes and putting the 15 poles in place. The holes had to be almost one meter deep which made it hard to get the soil out once it reached a certain depth. It looked quite funny when someone had to stick their head into a hole to reach the ground. The hardest part was that we had to be very exact about the measurements so that the house would be even and not tilt. We first put in a “master pole” as a reference point for the following fourteen poles.
With the goal of finishing the house early so we could go for a swim in the river behind the family’s house, we worked fast and effective. In fact, we were the first group to finish. So after a lunch of, of course, rice and beans, we went to the little river. It had never felt so good before to go for a swim before. We got to cool down and wash off all the dirt from the construction in this fairytale-like river in the jungle.
The house that TECHO usually constructs is about 6 by 3 meters and meant to fit a family of about 4 people. It’s basically just a room with three windows and a door. It’s not much, but it can change a lot in a family’s life. Of course, they can add things and add their own touch to it. The house is meant to be transitional and to give them a place where they can flourish. In other programs, TECHO helps to empower the communities and provide the kids with educational programs. Everything with the goal that they can make their way out of poverty.
The moment you know everything you did was worth it
The moment you know everything you did was worth it is definitely when you hand over the house to the family. You could see it in their eyes how thankful and happy they were that they finally had their own house. They told us that it had always been a big dream and now it came to reality. The whole group was very moved when the ribbon was cut and the family set their first steps into their new home.