Un Techo para mi Pais builds emergency housing for needy families in Uruguay.

A Latin American organization similar to Atlanta-based Habitat for Humanity that builds houses for poor families is seeking support for its operations in Uruguay.

The volunteer organization, Un Techo para mi Pais, or “A Roof for my Country,” does not have any affiliation with Habitat for Humanity, but the two organizations´ goals are very much alike. They both provide adequate housing for families in need.

The Uruguayan group has already constructed some 1,250 houses for poor families around the country. But additional funding and volunteers are needed to build homes for the quarter-million Uruguayans living in makeshift shelters across the country, the group’s communications director, Sofía San Cristóbal, told GlobalAtlanta.

Any donations are welcomed in order to help provide emergency housing for Latin American families in extreme need. Moreover, the organization has a wide variety of donation programs that not only support construction expenses but also finance educational programs, community centers and micro-credit lending, among other projects.

More than 8,000 volunteers have participated in Un Techo para mi País housing construction projects in Uruguay since the Chile-based organization opened a branch here in 2003. Some 300 volunteers participate each week in Un Techo´s various projects, but the organization is always looking for more help to assist the 252,000 Uruguayans currently living in 566 shanty towns, Ms. San Cristóbal added.

“Un Techo para mi Pais defines itself as a non-profit organization run by university students and young professionals that, through the construction of transitional houses, works with families in extreme poverty in a social inclusion process that allows them to develop as a sustainable community,” she said.

The institution was founded in Chile in 1997 as a way of combating the conditions of extreme poverty in which millions of people live throughout Latin America. The project was brought to Uruguay in June 2003 and is now established in 14 Latin American countries.

Un Techo para mi Pais believes that these people´s vulnerable living conditions are a global problem that requires society at large to help improve the situation.

“How does it work? According to the Social Intervention Model that tries to understand the reality of the shanty towns and the families that inhabit them,” Ms. San Cristóbal added. This model includes three stages of work: construction of emergency housing, social empowerment and permanent housing. The central idea, similar to Habitat for Humanity’s philosophy, is that the level of the families’ participation increases in the process.

Un Techo para mi Pais has designed intervention strategies in order to provoke significant changes in the current situation of the residents. The organization helps them develop tools to overcome their condition of poverty in an autonomous way.

The task of selecting the people who will benefit from the program is done by the Detection and Assignation team of Un Techo para mi Pais. The process consists of visiting any given neighborhood in which they evaluate and monitor the household savings performance of the different families. A survey of each family’s situation is done for those interested in receiving a house. This is a way of detecting the most needy families. Finally, the chosen family has to commit to the payment terms. The family commits to pay for what would be 10 percent of the total cost of the house.

Un Techo´s aim is to reach all Latin American countries in need. 

This past June 10, the embassy of Chile in Nicaragua had the official launch of Un Techo para mi Pais – Nicaragua. Under the slogan “Chile exports solidarity,” the presentation of the organization was carried out with the support of the Nicaragua Union of Corporate Social Responsibility, or uniRS.

Nicaragua is now the 14th Latin American country where Un Techo para mi Pais operates. The remaining countries are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

Habitat for Humanity is actually present in most of these countries as well: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Paraguay. However, the organization does not currently work in Uruguay.

“Un Techo para mi Pais is one of Uruguay’s main housing organizations. On us relies the change of fate of thousands of Uruguayans. And with your help, they all can dream of a better future,” Ms. San Cristóbal said.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...