Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A Roof For My Country: the Latin American way to eliminate poverty


A concept for a more sympathetic continent without the injustice of the poverty through a joint work between settlers, volunteers, companies and the mass media.

There are about 218 million people under the line of poverty in Latin America. However, there are 132,420 volunteers ready to take the big task in their hands and to erradicate this problem. A Roof For My Country ('Un Techo Para Mi País', in Spanish) is an NGO with headquarters in Santiago, Chile that claims college students to enroll in its lines and help them to buil wooden-made basic houses ('mediagua', in Spanish) in order to give the most needed families in the continent a small but effective house to improve their standards of life.

A Roof For My Country is an institution led by young people working as volunteers since 1997. They work in the poorest and most needed settlements where most of the people live in trash-made houses with newspapers or carton walls, without either electricity power nor tap water and often sorrunded by high levels of unemployment, drug addiction, alcoholism and prostitution. On this way, the organization can denounce the reality of the marginal settlements in wich millions families live and also to envolve the society as a whole, making them to commit and support with the task of making a more sympathetic continent without the injustice of the poverty through a joint work between settlers, volunteers, companies and the mass media.

The original idea was born in Chile -from 'Un Techo Para Chile'- in 2001, one of the most successful and recognized organization in that country, when a group of restless young people anxious by the reality of the poverty that existed in Chile decided to organize tasks in the south of that country, summoning people from different walks of life and universities, something open to more people, basically looking for diversity. Since 1997, A Roof For Chile has built more than 30,000 basic houses, thanks to the efforts and exitement of more than 18,000 volunteers every year that make possible the constructions of them, as well as social habilitation programs such as community development, microcredits for the small and medium companies, basic offices instruction, health programs, scholastic leveling for kids and adults and legal advising. A Roof For My Country begun later, in 2001, afer the earthquakes that hit El Salvador population. That year, young volunteers belonging to A Roof For Chile decided to share what they had and help in what they knew, to give a dignified roof to those that did not have one.

A Roof For My Country has the mission to transmit this way to work to other countries in the Latin American continent, where a tons of families live in extreme bad conditions. Nowadays, there are offices working in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

The way to work.
This job begins with the emergency house, a concrete solution that gives a chance to have an intimate, deserving and protected place, develop a space for the family, create the sense of property and motivate saving. The emergency house acts as an initial connection between the populator and the rest of society, because for its construction, the settler family gets together with the volunteer, who lives a strong experience which allows him/her to get to know in a direct way the poverty and the urgency of doing something to overcome it.

Subsequently, within the Social Intervention Area, they work permanently in different settlements along the country. The experience has shown that giving tools like education is vital to overcome poverty. This is why, once they have achieved to create an atmosphere of trust between settlers and the institution, they insert concrete social plans directed to the families interested in forming themselves and obtaining tools which allow them to develop their capacities, so they can make it through, starting from their own situation.

The last step in the process of eradication of an settlement is de definitive house and A Roof For Chile created in 2003 a special area to work in the subject. Their 'Definitive Housing Area' achieves to transform the benefited in an associate of his own residential
solution, incorporating him/her in making decisions through working tables, and in the design of his household and urban surrounding, by participating in workshops together with the architects.

With the support of professionals A Roof For My Country pretend to accompany the families through the whole process of postulating to a definitive house, transforming this instance in a step (wishfully the last one) to abandon the circle of extreme poverty.

The invitation is open to enroll in this campaing, to work together the most needed people and a big college students team. For further information, visit

About the Writer

Matthias Erlandsen is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on A Roof For My Country: the Latin American way to eliminate poverty

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By Noa on December 13, 2006 at 10:59 pm
This article is so wonderful! I really appreciate the interest you're taking in these issues! It's easy to have warped priorities as a young person; I love it when one of us has his head on in the right direction :) Very well written as well. I'm very impressed with the English. Ma im ha eevreet shelcha? Gam tova? Avoda yafa achi.
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By Steven Lane on December 13, 2006 at 11:20 pm
This is a great informative and inspirational article. Keep them coming!
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By V on December 14, 2006 at 02:52 am
Thanks for this info!
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