In case you wanted a glimpse of what it was like to participate in the 10-day construction project in the north of Chile, here is a short video. I’m in it a couple times (including the beginning chant) so try and find me if you can 🙂
In case you wanted a glimpse of what it was like to participate in the 10-day construction project in the north of Chile, here is a short video. I’m in it a couple times (including the beginning chant) so try and find me if you can 🙂
Resumen de TECHO
I. ¿Qué hace TECHO para Chile y la Área Social de Proyectos para proporcionar viviendas definitivas?
Después de trabajar dentro y fuera de la oficina central de TECHO con la Área Social de Proyectos (ASP) durante el mes pasado, he apredido mucho sobre la función de la oficina y el trabajo que se hace aquí. Aquí están los fundamentales:TECHO es una organización que funciona tanto por el duro trabajo del personal de la oficina central y los numerosos voluntarios. El objetivo principal de TECHO es proporcionar viviendas adecuadas y sostenibles para los pobres. La ASP trabaja con la comunicación tanto con las familias que TECHO sirve y SERVIU/La Municipalidad que son los grupos que proporcionan los fondos para los proyectos. El trabajo con el estado es proporcionar la papeleo apropiado, documentación, identificación y firmas necesarias para demonstrar que califican para vivienda definitiva. Los requisitos para una familia para recibir una vivienda definitiva incluyen cosas como la edad, estado civil, número de hijos y tener un ahorro de una cantidad específica para el pago inicial. Una de las principales funciones del representante de ASP es recoger la información adecuada y organizarla para entregarlo al SERVIU para que pueden aprobar los proyectos. TECHO también tiene otras dos personas que trabajan en cada comunidad específica, el arquitecto y el ingeniero, que tanto trabajan para diseñar y proporcionar la estructura de los proyectos de vivienda definitiva. Cuando el presupuesto es descubierto y aprobado por SERVIU en un espacio de terreno, trabajadores de la construcción son contratados para construir los planes. Las casas son generalmente condominios que se adjuntan a otros y tienen una pequeña cocina, baño, sala de estar y dos o tres dormitorios con el funcionamiento del agua, fontanería, calefacción y electricidad.
II. Qué hace ASP directamente en las comunidades.
Cada individuo que trabaja con TECHO está asignado a dos-cuatro comunidades y hay un trabajador ASP, un arquitecto y un ingeniero asignada a cada una. Esta tipo de distribución del trabajo ha demostrado ser muy eficiente, porque cada persona tiene sólo unos pocos lugares que tienen que preocuparse en cuanto a tiempo de visita y conocer a los dirigentes de las comunidades. TECHO es una organización que se basa en el trabajo participativo.(Una palabra usando en la trabajo de los pobres en mi escuela.) Todos los proyectos y planes se elaboran en conjunto con las personas de la campamentos o los dirigentes. ASP tiene una buena relación con mucha comunicación con los dirigentes de las campamentos a las que se asignan a reunirse con ellos una vez a la semana para discutir y planificar el futuro y el éxito de esa comunidad especifica. Esta organización no utiliza la toma de decisiones autoritarias para obligar a las comunidades a hacer algo que ellos no quieren, todo los proyectos y planes se discuten y deciden sobre.
III. ¿Qué piensa la comunidad de TECHO? ¿Dónde están los problemas (que he visto)?
En todas las comunidades que he visitado a los dirigentes de la comunidad están agradecidos y de colaboración con los trabajadores de TECHO. Para el resto de los miembros de la campamentos a veces es más difícil para ellos a entender algunas de las decisiones que se toman por TECHO especialmente si hay un problema o algo que no beneficia directamente. Cuando los dirigentes son los personas que deben poner en práctica estas ideas y decirle a las personas de los campamentos acerca de ellos, es mejor que no tener a las dirigentes porque ellos son miembros de la comunidad también y comprender la situación de la gente. Sin embargo, me he dado cuenta de que aún a veces las comunidades no entienden por qué algunas de las decisiones se toman o no entienden las limitaciones en cuanto a porque otras decisiones no se toman por TECHO. Cuando este es el caso, algunas personas de la comunidad se sienten indivisibles y se sienten como se necesita es no encontrar. Parece que están a la espera de que el proceso vaya más rápido. Pero eso es también la situación de los trabajadores en el TECHO. Lo que he observado es que tanto los trabajadores de TECHO y las personas de la comunidad el proceso es demasiado lento y tarda mucho tiempo para que las cosas sucedan, esto puedo ser muy frustrarse para todos. Esto puedo ser causado por el hecho de que hay muchos grupos diferentes que participan en los procesos de toma de comunicación lento. Por ejemplo, los personas de la comunidad deben trabajar con TECHO quien luego debe trabajar con SERVIU y luego ir a las comunidades a fin de que le pase nada. La procesa se requiere de mucha paciencia a los trabajadores de ASP de explicar a la gente que son lo siento por el retraso, pero que no hay nada que pueden hacer. Una manera en que es bueno es que hay una reunión mensual con toda la comunidad que pueden ayudar algunas de sus preguntas. Representantes de TECHO siempre parecen ser respetado, ya que su trabajo es a menudo identificada.
IV. Lo que creo que puede ser que necesite mejorar.
He aprendido de estar aquí que la afirmación es cierto: Ninguna organización es tan organizado como parece en el exterior, y ninguna organización es tan desorganizado como parece al trabajar desde dentro. El enfoque y el trabajo que se realiza en la oficina es muy útil para las familias y en general eficiente. Pero hay mucho trabajo por hacer y no suficiente gente para hacer de todo. Por ejemplo, ASP trabaja con cada comunidad también para crear programas y cosas internamente que mejoren cada comunidad ademas de trabajar en la oficina como el comunicador de las instituciones mas grandes. Este trabajo haber perdido, un fomento de la participación de la gente de las comunidades para hacer mejoras con cosas como por ejemplo los programas educativos. La mejoría de las veces es que estado aquí he visto sobre todo la logística con la vivienda definitiva, pero la población de pobres a menudo se encuentran en necesidad de programas que ayudan con los problemas sociales y la educación. Quizás este es realmente el trabajo de otra persona en TECHO fuera del ASP que no he aprendido sobre, pero creo que esta área puede necesitar mas atención.
V. Conclusión y mi propuesta de posibles mejoras
En general, mi experiencia ha sido muy positiva no estoy seguro si es sólo debido a la época del año, pero parece que muchos de los proyectos están recibiendo en su camino para construir y proporcionar vivienda definitiva para muchos familias en todo Santiago. Muchas personas y familias que han sido muy contento con el trabajo y el éxito de TECHO y el ASP. Cero que en el futuro es necesario que haya más concentración y atención en la mejora de la comunidad, además de la vivienda, porque la ASP trabaja con los dirigentes de la comunidad cada semana. Quizás si el ASP tenía un equipo de voluntarios o personas que hacen sus practicas que puede trabajar con cada uno de los trabajadores que podrían ayudar en la ignancion de una parte del trabajo que podría ser muy útil. Los personas podían ayudar con algunos de los trámites que permitan la ASP para centarse en cosas más importante o mejor que podría ayudar en programas especificos de cada comunidad que ayude a desarrollar la comunidad con clases o prorgramas de educacion. Ellos podría permitir el proceso de ir un poco más rápido y también puede servir como un otro comunicador de una campamento especiticada. TECHO ha hecho un gran trabajo para ayudar y mejorar la vida de muchos familias, pero parece que hay mucho más trabajo por hacer.
After working in and outside of the TECHO Office with the Area Social de Proyectos(ASP) for about 5 weeks now, I have learned a lot about the function of the office and about the work that is done here. Here are the basics; TECHO is an organization run both by the hard work of the staff at the central and the many volunteers. The main goal of TECHO is to provide suitable and sustainable housing for the poor. The ASP works by communicating both with the families that TECHO works with and SERVIU/The Municipalidad of Santiago, the groups that provide the funding for the projects. The role with the state is to provide the proper paperwork, documentation, identification and signatures necessary to prove that they qualify for permanent housing. The requirements include things like age, marriage status, number of children and having a savings of a specific amount for a down payment (el pago inicial). One of the main roles of the ASP representative is to collect the proper information and organize it to deliver it to SERVIU so they can approve projects. TECHO then has two more individuals who work on each specific community, the architect and the engineer, who both works to design and provide the framework for the projects of permanent housing. When the budgeting is figured out and approved by SERVIU in a space of land, construction workers are hired to build the plans. The houses are usually condominium that are attached to one other and have a small kitchen, bathroom, living room and two to three bedrooms with working water, plumbing, heating and electricity. Each individual who works that TECHO is assigned to 2-4 communities and there is an ASP worker, an architect and an engineer assigned to each. This type of distribution of labor has proven to be very efficient because each member has only a few places that they need to worry about in terms of visiting time and getting to know the leaders of the communities.
TECHO is an organization that is based on participatory work. All the projects and plans are worked out together with members, or the leaders of the community. ASP has a very close relationship to the leaders of the communities they are assigned to meeting with them once a week to discuss and plan the future and success of that specific community. This organization does not use authoritarian decision making to force communities to do anything that they would not want to, all the projects and plans are discussed and decided on. In every community that I have visited the leaders of the community are appreciative and collaborative with the workers from TECHO. For the rest of the members of the community sometimes it is harder for them to understand some of the decisions that are made by TECHO especially if there is a problem or something that doesn’t directly benefit them. Having the leaders be the ones to implement these ideas is better than not having the leaders because they are members of the community as well but sometimes the communities don’t understand why some of the decisions are made or don’t understand the limitations as to why other decisions aren’t made. When this is the case some community members feel unseen and feel like there needs are unmeet. It seems like they are all waiting for the process to go faster. But that is also the situation for the workers at TECHO.
What I have observed is that from both the workers at TECHO and the community members the process is too slow and takes too much time for things to happen. This may be because there are so many parties involved in the process. The community members must work with TECHO who then must work with SERVUI and then go back to the communities in order for anything to happen. It requires a lot of patience from the workers at TECHO to explain to the people that they are sorry for the delay but that there is nothing they can do. One way that it is good is that there is a monthly meeting with the entire community that can help to answer some of their questions. TECHO representatives always seem to be respected, as their hard work is often identifiable.
When I came to work at TECHO, after reading the website and learning as much as possible about the organization from online, I thought the approach was perfect: working with a team of leaders. I have learned that it is a good system but that it has its flaws. The biggest flaw is not having things happen quickly enough. This leaves members of the community feeling ignored and feeling like their involvement in working with TECHO and attending meetings is useless because nothing will ever change. I can’t imagine that the actually process will be able to move any faster but I think in order to help the families see that there is still hope it is important for the TECHO workers to always be in constant communication with all members of the community. Families need to know that TECHO is working as hard as they can to make permanent housing projects start but I think sometimes they don’t believe that anyone is working very hard for them.
I have learned while being here that the statement is true: No organization is as organized as it seems to the outside, and no organization is as disorganized as it seems while working from within. The approach and the work that is done at the office is very helpful and for the most part efficient. There is just a lot of work to be done and not enough people to get it all done. For example, ASP works with each community also to create programs and things internally that will improve each community on top of working in the office as the communicator for the bigger institutions. This work seems to be lacking, an encouraging of community member participation to make improvements with things like for example educational programs. The majority of the time is that I have been here I’ve seen mostly logistics with housing but it poor communities it is often the case that they are in need of programs that help with social and education problems.
Overall my experience has been very positive and I’m not sure if it is just because of the time of year but it seems like a lot of projects are getting on their way to build and provide permanent housing for many families all over Santiago. Many individuals and families have been very happy with the work and success of TECHO. More about community improvement rather than just housing.
After coming back home and explaining to many that I worked in Chile for an organization that provides housing for the poor, the most common questions that follows has been “Did you build any houses?” After five weeks of working at the central office in Santiago and visiting communities all around, I was able to experience another side of the organization when I went on the 10-day construction trip to actually build houses referred to as “Trabajos” or “Secondarios”. I didn’t have my computer during this experience but I tried keeping detailed notes to document the week (although at times I was extremely exhausted and couldn’t keep it up). Here is my account of the construction project I was involved in, followed by my experience working with the office in Santiago.
The reality of this adventure finally starting to come to a close was finally starting to sink in. As I was heading back to the high school the night before I started to feel a little feverish. Being around 100 other students, doing physically demanding labor combined with the lack of sleep I was getting were probably not the best things for my health but luckily I hadn’t gotten sick thus far. Sofía was in charge of taking care of the sick people so she had told me all about her trips to the hospital and how she had to send some people home for being so sick. I was hoping that going to sleep would make the achy feeling go away which luckily, it did! Everyone woke up this morning and ate a relaxed breakfast. Finally, the last time I would ever have to eat this bread!
At the site, as a part of the inauguration, everyone received a paper and were prompted to write a dream we had for the future: A dream for our future lives, a dream for the future lives of the families we helped or a dream we had for the future of Chile in general. Everyone put his or her dreams in a hole and we buried them under our final wooden cylinder. Everyone received a bracelet that said TECHO – Secondarios and we marked the cylinder by nailing to it one of these bracelets. Everyone was excited to have finished the 10 days but also sad to say our final goodbyes.
I never expected that I would get so close to my group but after spending 12 plus hours a day with them for the past 10 days we ended up knowing so much about each other. We had one final meeting with our groups where we each got a chance to share where we were at with the whole adventure and how we felt about the experience. Everyone got a little sentimental as we had our final group hug and said goodbye.
We separated into different buses depending on where we were going and Sofía and I finally got a chance to really talk about how the week went with the 10-hour bus ride. She was excited to hear what I thought of the whole process and experience especially as a foreigner. The bus ride was long and I kept thinking of how excited I was to take a shower and finally sleep in a nice, warm bed. The bus ride was long but also very beautiful. Since we embarked so late 10 days ago it was dark and I couldn’t see any of the ride. This time we spent all day driving so for the times I wasn’t napping I got some really beautiful views of the coast on one side and hills on the other as we headed down the 5. Chile truly is a gorgeous country.
When we arrived back in Santiago, the large urban city felt very different in comparison to the small rural area we had spent the last week. Sofía and I ended up walking to one of my cousin’s house hoping someone would be home to take me back to my great aunts house. (Little did I know my cousins were scheming behind my back the whole time). When I arrived back to my abode I was eager to say hello to my great aunt and uncle but also couldn’t wait for the much needed shower I was going to have. Little did I know 8 of my cousins were in the kitchen awaiting my arrival. Obliviously, I got in the shower and took a very long, relaxed shower scrubbing and re-scrubbing every part of my body. When I finished and got back to my room one of my cousins was there to direct me into the kitchen where they all exclaimed “Surprise, Welcome Back!” I was beyond the point of exhaustion but I was so thrilled to be able to see my favorite cousins before heading back to America the next afternoon. We had a small going away party with the most delicious home made soup and tres leches cake for dessert. My cousins made a recipe book for me so that I could bring a little bit of the Chilean culture I had learned back home with me. It was such an amazing surprise and the whole day felt like the perfect close to my two-month Chile adventure. I couldn’t believe that it was finally time to go back home. After such a long time here and with what felt like unfinished business still to be done, I was left with a feeling of abandonment. I was reassured with the thought that maybe one day I will be presented with an opportunity to come back and see the incredible progress that will take place in my absence.
Today was the day for us to put on the roof and specific to this house, it was our job to construct the windows and the doors on our own rather than just doing the installing. The warm sun came up in the early afternoon and remaining shining for a large portion of the day. This was a pleasant surprise compared to the previous days of construction. Good thing we had the walls up to create some shade to keep us from overheating as we worked. The whole project was really coming together as all the houses lined up next to each other started to look more and more like a neighborhood.
Another interesting aspect about an organization and program only run by youths to add to what I mentioned earlier is the making and enforcing of rules. The conversations when having to do with punishment are rather unique in that they aren’t authoritarian in any way. Yes, rules are rules and for this trip there were only three, No drugs, No alcohol and No sex (basically no rock’n roll). When one of these rules are broken the protocol is known by all participating: your parents are called and you are immediately placed on the next bus back to your home as well as losing the privilege of participating in any TECHO events for the next two years. The only reason I know this is because 2 members of my team were caught with drugs and sent home the day before our last day. In the afternoon, the leader of our school came to talk to our group to make it clear what had happened. He explained that he is only 21 and when there are young people enforcing the rules for the 86 other 15-18 year olds it is important for the rules to be clearly enforced. Everyone signs a paper saying they with sustain from doing these three things for just the 10 days that they are here. It was unfortunate for our team especially because it was crunch time and these two guys were our main roofers from the last construction site. Fortunately for us with the help of some other groups, everyone knew it would be possible to finish. Our whole team was a little upset but understood the consequences that needed to take place for the poor decisions that were made by the boys.
The day continued to get more and more pretty as the sun began to go down the full moon began to rise.
We worked all day to put together the roof and assemble to doors and windows but the doors were surprisingly extremely time consuming. We had to chip wood away from both the door and the doorframe in order to make an indent for the hinges to fit and it had to align perfectly. We ultimately ended up staying at the site until midnight working on the final door, boy was I exhausted. The inauguration that was scheduled for tonight was postponed to the morning because we couldn’t complete the house in time.
After one of the longest, most physically strenuous days, getting up the next morning wasn’t the easiest. However, as I had been doing the past 7 days, I woke up at 6am and made it to the cafeteria bundled up in all the jackets I had brought with me. When we took the bus this morning back up the steep hill to continue our work, I realized what terrible shape my hands were in from all the dirt scrapping and accidental hammer hitting. Despite the pain, we were being very productive. We got the floor in place in the morning before lunch and finished with the walls around 11pm. We even had time for a midday dance party on the floor.
In the later part of the night we were invited for tea with a family that lived in a nearby house. It was very kind of the family and by that time at night I was very hungry and cold so the tea and sandwiches were perfect! Today and yesterday we had much less time than we did the last house to get to know the family because they lived far away and only came by in the evening. Our family however was very nice. The children were always excited to help by digging and hammering.
After 6 long days of work here I’ve acquired a better understanding of the functional aspects of the “trabajos.” The dynamic of this program is very unique in two significant ways that I have noticed so far. First, it is founded and run solely by the youth of Chile making for a very special and distinct organization. This approach encourages a high-energy environment paired with a large amount of freedom for the teenagers to sing, dance, play and learn together. It also demonstrates the large amount of passion the youth of Chile have toward bettering their country for the future. I see a lot of Chilean pride when they chant the national slogan or have discussions about their country of residency and the people of their country. It has proven to bring about a democratic process in big decision-making that everyone is affected by. For example, this morning when we were supposed to start our second construction site we ran into a little problem. The bulldozing trucks were running behind and hadn’t gotten to clearing all the land that we were planning to build on. The two leaders of the school sat us all down, explained everything that was going on and asked if anyone had any ideas or suggestions that we could do to solve the problem. Everyone was still determined to make the construction happen and several people came up with some good alternatives. We of course decided to do whatever we could to make the construction still work. The process seemed very fair; the leaders of our school didn’t make any decisions or changes without informing and asking the opinions of everyone else whom the decisions would affect.
After a discussion the night before about what to do, we decided to get into our groups and each write down the dimensions of the land and how far the posts had to be installed. This was so that we could be more time efficient when we worked because we were already a day behind. We were encouraged to keep our energy up for the new family we were going to meet. When we got to the site in the early afternoon we immediately got down to business with the tape measures, laying out where we would be digging the holes. Everyone was working hard and fast. This land had many more heavy, large rocks that seemed almost impossible to break and remove requiring the work of a very heavy sledgehammer and often several people.
This site was more fun than the last because all the groups from more than just our school were lined up next to each other to construct. We were right in the middle so when a big speaker was brought to play blasting music to keep our energy up it was stationed right in front of our group. It made it harder for me to hear and understand the instruction of others, especially in Spanish, but as everyone sang and danced along to the music it made for a much more entertaining and fun experience. After lunch the family came to check on our progress, two of the men who were the boyfriends of the family helped us to dig the holes.
Instead of the two days that we had for the first house to dig the holes we had to condense that process into just today. That meant that we worked until 11:30pm. Big trucks came after the sun set to shine their headlights to help us see what we were doing but we needed our phones to shine in the holes to see the rocks that needed to be removed. It was extremely tiring and the long hours seemed to never end but finally it was time to go home and with no time for any activities we ate quickly and everyone went straight to bed.