Two teachers from IH Buenos Aires gave up their weekends last year to volunteer for “Un Techo Para Mi Pais” (UTPMP), a charity which works across South America. UTPMP originally started in Chile in 1997, working with young volunteers across the continent to build emergency housing for those in need.
One of the teachers, Rosie Hilder of IH Recoleta, says:
“Anya Shaw of IH Belgrano and I went to two provinces in Buenos Aires to help two families. My family had 10 children, one of whom was born the weekend I was there! They were living in very poor conditions, with only 3 beds between the 12 of them, and a very small house with a mud floor. Needless to say, they definitely needed more room.
We helped to construct a small house for the family to live in. We spent hours digging holes in the ground for poles, nailing together the walls and roof, and I was in charge of making the hinges for the door and window.
We stayed in a local school with other volunteers and it was a great opportunity to meet new people, both the volunteers and the family we worked with.
My family had 3 small children of 6, 8 and 10 years old and when the house was finished they jumped up and down in it screaming “tenemos casa, tenemos casa” (“we have a house”). I think that is the memory that sticks with me the most from that weekend. Seeing them so happy was definitely worth 2 nights spent sleeping on the floor and a few days of hard labour.”
The two teachers, plus several thousand other volunteers went along to a collection day to ask the people of Buenos Aires to donate to the UTPMP cause. They were based in Plaza Francia, and knocked on the windows of the cars that passed by, asking them to give a few pesos. The collection raised over a million pesos (£148,450) nationwide which was excellent news for the charity.
There has also been a collection for UTPMP in both IH Recoleta and Belgrano amongst the staff, and a publicity campaign to promote the charity’s work. For more information on UTPMP, go to: http://www.untechoparamipais.org/argentina/