Volunteering For Casita Linda in San Miguel de Allende
As we travel we love to give some time to help in local communities wherever we can have an opportunity to do some good.
So when we heard about the Casita Linda project building houses for families in the San Miguel de Allende area of Mexico we wanted to find out more.
Sometimes it can be hard to find volunteering-with-children opportunities but Casita Linda has regular days where families can volunteer to paint a newly built house that’s being handed over to a local family.
So when one of the painting days was announced we leapt at the chance to go and do something worthwhile.
The video below gives you an idea of the brilliant work that Casita Linda does in the area.
After contacting Casita Linda about volunteering we were added to their facebook event page where we were able to coordinate with Tracy the volunteer coordinator and other volunteers.
The day came and we arrived at the allotted meeting place in central San Miguel de Allende at 9.30am to get a car share out to the local community where the house had been built.
Casita Linda builds approx 12-15 houses every year for local families in need.
As with other parts of Mexico, there is an overwhelming percentage of people living under the poverty line and San Miguel de Allende although an affluent tourist town has its fair share of families living in poverty.
As we drove the twenty minutes or so out of town to the community, our surroundings changed from shops and houses to fields and the highway gave way to a smaller surfaced road to then an even narrower rough track.
We drove past the recycling dump where trucks shed their loads of plastic etc to be sorted through by local people who live in tin-roofed shacks without water and electricity.
The municipal dump provides an area for some local people to scavenge for anything of worth.
It’s these lowly paid families that Casita Linda aims to rehouse and help to change their lives around for the better.
But it’s not handed to them a plate.
Families have to apply for a house and go through a programme of workshops to even qualify for application.
These workshops include programmes about keeping healthy, abuse, sex, hygiene and work amongst other subjects.
The family must attend all of these and prove themselves to even gain a chance of receiving a house.
A Casita Linda Built Home
As we approached the community we stopped to pick up a local lady and her baby who turned out to be the recipient of the house we were about to paint.
We drove along a narrow track as the lady gave directions to her compound.
Many of these families own land that their shacks will be built on but now standing proudly in the centre of their compound was a brand new but simply built three bedroom home.
The houses are built from interconnecting concrete blocks to a set design that has proven itself again and again.
We unloaded the paint and equipment from the vehicles and got sorted into groups to start painting.
Luckily all three of us were assigned to paint the interior which meant we were out of the sun.
Paint poured, rollers at the ready we started painting one of the three bedrooms.
This was Annabel’s first experience of rolling and she did fantastically.
Sue loves painting so she was in absolute heaven with a roller in one hand and brush in the other as I finished all the bits the rollers couldn’t get to around the edges etc.
As we painted the inside a neutral white the family had picked a rather more colourful shade for the outside with a lovely turquoise covering the whole house.
A house warming celebration was planned so we only had a few hours to complete the painting as fully as we could.
The outside was finished within the time although we had to leave some of the insides for the family to finish.
Outside, three tiny piglets wandered around on the families land alongside the pig pen.
Tables and chairs were set up for the party and friends and neighbours congregated in the shade of the trees.
A small house naming ceremony took place as the family nailed a name plaque to the outside of the house and gave a short but poignant speech.
We’d been asked to provide a dish for the party so we cooked up some rice and beans.
Sue and I were enjoying painting so much we didn’t want to stop but the call of food was just too much and we soon found ourselves outside with plates full of chicken, rice, salad, tortillas and all sorts of wonderful sauces.
No party is complete without a cake and a huge one was produced for the family to cut.
It was so lovely to see the family so happy and all smiles as their children ran around with balloons and played together.
All too soon it was time to pack away, leave the rest of the food for the family and scraps for the pigs as we loaded the cars up and said our goodbyes.
What a joy to leave this family in possession of such a lovely home and what an honour to have been part of this wonderful opportunity to help and do something worthwhile with our time.
The best part was that we could volunteer as a family and make a difference together.
If you would like to find out more about the Casita Linda project or get involved please visit their website Casita Linda