Tomorrow I head off to the north of Chile to the region of Atacama to start my 10 days of construction, my next big adventure! Every year TECHO does two large construction jobs, once in the summer and once in the winter where they travel all over Chile and to different parts of Latin America to build new Media Aguas which are shacks for the poor to live in. In Chile, they have stopped building the Media Aguas because they are temporary housing that, besides shelter, don’t really give families a good foundation for a better life. In place of the Media Aguas, TECHO has started to build Vivienda Progresivas, (Progressive Houses) an improved version of the shack like structure that allows for future development. These types of shacks are only built under certain circumstances, for example for families who will not qualify for permanent housing. This only happens in very specific cases such as the fact that you can only apply for a permanent house funded by the state in Chile once in your life so for the families who have previously owned a house but something happened to it they can not acquire the funding for another so they need another form of shelter such as the Vivienda Progresivas. This is only in Chile, around Latin America there are many places that are in need of the basic Media Aguas, people who are just plain and simple in need of proper shelter.
Above the TECHO sign is a model of what a Media Agua looks like. This big effort of constructions is a collaboration of volunteers from the staff at TECHO, students from both universities and high schools around the county and also individuals from other campamentos. Everyone is welcome and recruited to join in on the weeklong construction projects. This winter the big project will be sending a team to Paraguay in a few weeks, by bus, to build Media Aguas. Besides that big trip this week many groups will be going to the north and south of Chile as well as the coast to build.
I will be going for 10 days up north, sleeping in a high school with limited access to water, since Atacama is a desert, so it looks like I won’t be showering for the next 10 days. I think that might be the longest I haven’t showered in my entire life. That, in addition to the heat of the desert and the manual labor of constructing a house, I think I’m in for a dirty week. Well, at least it’s for a good cause. The adventure begins with an all night, 12-hour bus ride. Wish me luck! I won’t have internet access but I’ll be keeping tabs on my progress and sending an update when I return.