Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Hope Through Housing: Part 2 of 3

Posted on behalf of Tom Owens

Sponsorship provides the platform that allows CI to work in other areas of importance to the children and their families, such as housing. The community knows us and trusts us for our long-term commitment. Established networks like our volunteers and partnerships with local organizations are all part of our built-in capacity to do housing on a large scale.

Helping those who help themselves: Children International partners with prospective homeowners, who provide the labor to build their own homes.

Hope reborn: the “Renacer” (Rebirth) housing project in Honduras.

We began a formal housing effort at Children International in Honduras in 1999 following Hurricane Mitch. During the three years after Mitch we built nearly 700 houses for Honduran families, most of them with children sponsored through Children International.

Better than before: secure housing emerges after the floodwaters in India.

Other disasters have moved us to provide urgently needed assistance for shelter in other countries. CI built more that 500 houses in India in 2001-2002 following destructive floods and cyclones. We built still another 72 houses for families in Quezon City, Philippines, that lost their homes in a fire.

Our next challenge is once again in the Philippines, where a series of four brutal typhoons caused widespread destruction last year. Over 300,000 homes in the region around the cities of Legaspi and Tabaco were demolished and about the same number were partially damaged. We are currently securing land and seeking funding that will allow us to mount a response to this dire situation.

Through all these projects CI has maintained the principal of “building back better than before.” The idea has always been to help the families create something of lasting value. That’s why we ensure that we use the best quality materials available at the best price and used tested construction techniques to strengthen the homes against severe weather. We also take simple, inexpensive measures – such as good cross ventilation – to make the houses more comfortable in hot climates.

Our Home Improvement Loan Program grew out of these new construction projects and has helped hundreds of families make incremental improvements to their homes. Again, the beneficiaries provide the unskilled labor for the improvements, develop construction skills and take a genuine pride in their homes.

Tom Owens is the Director of Grants for Children International. Check back tomorrow for part 3 of this 3-part post on Children International’s efforts to improve housing for sponsored children around the world.


evergreen3 said...

Is there a specific cost for building materials for a house, or is the cost dependent on the country? What would be the cost to build a house in the Philippines or Ecuador if we were to provide the materials only, or materials and labor...if the family could not provide the labor needed?

Kelly said...


Thanks for your interest in helping provide housing for sponsored children. There are a number of variables -- from country to country and even from community to community -- that make it difficult to calculate a cost that would be accurate in every location we serve. Some of these variables include local costs of building materials, location (how difficult is it to get the materials to the building site), etc. Additionally, the families who are benefited by our housing program contribute their labor to the best of their abilities. As you can imagine, in many cases they are not knowledgeable about construction and therefore don't have much to offer in the way of actually helping to build the houses; however, they work hard tearing down any old structures on the property, doing cleanup and sometimes serving as helpers to the construction crews. In some cases the parents or some of the older children actually work in construction and are able to donate skilled labor (we've seen some moms out there mixing cement and hauling bricks with the best of them!). This is always a big help.

I'd suggest you call one of our Sponsor Services representatives at 1-800-888-3089 so they can give you more accurate information about the specific locations that interest you. And again, thanks.

liz said...

Another option instead of building a new house is to buy an existing house, which can quite often be less expensive. I have done this for one of my children in Manila, after visiting her in 2005 and seeing the appalling conditions she lived in, I then contacted CI upon my return to see what could be done, and to my surprise I was able to purchase on behalf of my child a 2 bedroom brick home with kitchen, bathroom, (something they had never had) in a much safer area, although the house is tiny, my little girl told me she know lives in a mansion!