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Between Christmas and New Year’s, I had the opportunity to volunteer with Casa Digna in San Felipe, Baja California Norte, Mexico. Casa Digna is an amazing organization that makes use of old tires and sand (both of which are plentiful in Baja) to give a hand up (not hand out) to the most impoverished families. Casa Digna is similar to Habitat for Humanity in that they build houses for families in need but in it make use of the resources readily available in Baja. The houses are constructed by filling old tires with clay based dirt, stacking them to make walls, cover then in chicken wire and tar paper and applying plaster.
The houses are roughly 961 sqft 2/1’s with a great room, in all there will be 44 houses, community buildings and parks. They have gravity fed water and electrical will be soon brought to the property. Each home costs roughly $20k to build but the organization believes that they can streamline the process and cut the cost down to $14k-$16k. There are many requirements for community service and even the smallest family members can help. The families that will soon be moving into their new homes have been living in the arroyos in makeshift shacks with no water, electricity or floors.
The project is in the early phases but eventually it will have child care and job training. The families will have a small monthly utility and property tax bill. I helped the organization move the administrative office into new facilities. It was really good experience because the families all rushed down to help and I got to see firsthand how appreciative these families are and what a difference building these homes has made for them. The office is now up and running and fundraising is in full swing. They now have four more families that are qualified to start building and they are doing a multiple fundraisers in the US and Mexico to try to raise money that is needed to build four houses.