The Assembly started with a short meeting with the leaders of the community to cover some business and break down the plan for the public assembly that started at 8pm. Assemblies take place in each camp once a month with everyone in the community, the leaders and also the representatives from TECHO (the few who are assigned to the specific campamento). In this campamento in Maipu two of my cousins are assigned, Sofía from ASP (Area Social de Proyectos) and Joaquin who is the engineer, or was because today was his last asamblea. The entire community gathered and the meeting started with announcements and an explanation of some logistics from a community leader. This community is working on the process of obtaining permanent housing. We had spent the week previously collecting paperwork and photocopies to give to SERVIU (The Ministerio de Vivienda y Urbanism – The Ministry of Housing and Urbanism). After the introduction of the asemblea, Sofía gave a PowerPoint presentation that we had been working on. It analyzed information from a survey that was taken of the people of the community and discussed some action items of the future.
It was very interesting and informative for me to go through the data of 263 people to see the objective things such as the percentage of people under the age of 18, the percentage of families that were single parent households and the percentage who had disabilities. It was also interesting to go through some of the subjective responses like what the people thought was most important to focus on in their community, what some of the problems were and where they wanted to see improvements made in the future. We synthesized the information using easy to read, informative graphs for the presentation and also printed out a copy for each of the families so that they could have a summarized version of the information to take home with them.
After, Joaquin gave a talk about more logistics about the housing projects that they were starting, answering questions that people had about the guarantee of the house in terms of durability, in case something goes wrong, and about the down payment that they must pay in order to buy the new houses (each family needs a specific amount, 50.000 pesos – one hundred dollars in this case – in savings for them to qualify for the permanent house that is funded by the government). Joaquin told the community that this was his last asamblea because he was changing projects and everyone gave him a round of applause for all of his hard work with them.
At the end of the meeting everyone was required to sign in so we had several lines going to help fill four sheets with each persons name, RUT, telephone number and signature. It was rather time consuming and we had to be as efficient as possible because everyone was eager to return home after the long meeting and I’m sure a long day for many. At every asamblea attendance is mandatory but at this specific meeting a representative from SERVIU was there so attendance was even more critical. The monthly meetings are held at night so that the families are able to attend after work. There were people of all ages in the audience from crying babies to people my age to some of the older members of the community sitting in the front row so they could all hear. There was even a young woman who had to leave early because she was starting to have contractions. We’re going to have to update our statistics because it looks like this community is about to have 264 members!