Home Construction Projects

Home Construction Projects (13)

In April of 2017 MEDLIFE completed one of our long-term projects, building a house for Soledad and her son. MEDLIFE met Soledad in 2014 (full story here), and upon see her living conditions, we knew we needed to get her a new home. The home she was in was unsafe, and appeared to be on the verge of collapse. The fundraising process and construction process was long, but we succeeded. A group of students from Cornell University, who helped fundraise for the house, got to be there to help put on the finishing touches, see the finished project and meet Soledad themselves.

blog soledadThe back of the old, structurally insecure house. 

blog soledad3Soledad and her son, inside their old home in 2014.

IMG 7947The completed house.

Volunteers helped us add the finishing touches on their volunteer trip!

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 IMG 8041Soledad, on the day her new home was completed.

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 IMG 8107Thank you to this group of volunteers for your help fundraising and finishing the house!

 2017 04 13Thank you to our year long interns for all of your help on this project!

MEDLIFE Future Project: A New Home for Soledad from MEDLIFE on Vimeo.

March 7, 2017 2:01 PM

Bibi's House Completed in Tanzania

Written by Jake Kincaid

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     Marangu is a lush green rural Tanzanian town tucked in the shadows of the mighty Mt. Kilimanjaro. MEDLIFE conducted clinics there in 2016. Many of the houses were very poorly constructed and offered little shelter from monsoons.

     One particular case was brought to our attention when during a mobile clinic, an 84 year-old woman wrapped in colorful cloth came in named Elianasia, nicknamed Bibi, and asked us for help with her bathroom.

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     MEDLIFE staff followed her through the jungle to see her bathroom. It was hard for Elianasia to walk so far, her leg was causing her pain. She lived all alone, all of her children had gone seperate ways and were not caring for her. Her husband died tragically in 1962. When staff saw the rest of her house, they were surprised she was only asking for a bathroom.

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     Her kitchen was a fireplace sheltered by some wood poles and tattered rags, the bathroom was a hole in the ground covered by a small wooden board, which was being slowly devoured by ants and appeared it may collapse into the hole next time it was used. She did not have a room anywhere that could provide shelter from the rain. During monsoon season, she slept on a wet bed and tried to cook in the rain. 

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      "I will be very happy if you can provide for me a house where I can stay," said Elianasia. "I am praying for you, so that god may bless you in everything that you do, thank you very much." 

In 2017 the project was completed, thanks to a generous donation from Goodlife Travels.

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 MEDLIFE founder and CEO Nick Ellis, MEDprograms director Angie Vidal, and MEDLIFE Tanzania Director Neema Lyimo visited and found Bibi living happily in her new home.

January 23, 2017 1:36 PM

A Home for Rosa Morocho

Written by Jake Kincaid

IMG 9830Nicol Morocho sneaks out to get a popcicle while she waits with her mom at a medical clinic.

     Every morning Nicol, a bubbly nine-year old Peruvian girl, descends the hill she lives on alone to get to school. She says goodbye to her mom Rosa, who sits on a rug next to the bed in the middle of their one room home. Nicol will return later with food for both of them, and she knows her mom will still be there when she gets back- because Rosa cannot leave her house on her own.

IMG 9800Rosa on the cushion where she spends much of her time.

     Rosa has never been able to walk and is barely able to use her right arm. She has had this handicap since she was a child, but has never had a diagnosis.

     MEDLIFE met Rosa while working on the water tank project in Laderas. She lives next to where the tank was constructed, and as MEDLIFE staff worked on the tank, they also got to know Rosa and her daughter Nicol.

     Nicol has assumed a lot of the responsibility of caring for her when she is not in school. Bringing her mother food from the comedor (government subsidized restaurant) and markets, assisting her with all daily tasks.

    Rosa lives high in Lima’s hills and getting to and from her house is extremely difficult. She didn’t leave the hill she lives on for the entire Peruvian winter, because the steep dirt road gets too wet and slick for a car to drive up or to push her wheelchair up. The last time she went down the hill her brother took her to see Nicol’s dance performance.

    Rosa cannot afford to live somewhere more accessible, she survives on what her brothers, who live nearby can give her.

    Hoping that perhaps some medical procedure could improve her condition, MEDLIFE took her to a doctor in January of 2017. Getting Rosa to and from the hospital was very difficult, even with three people to help push and carry her up and down the steep dirt paths. We couldn’t get a cab to take us that high on the hill after the appointment, so we had to trick cab drivers, knowing they would feel too guilty to abandon us on the hillside with Rosa. It was the only way we could get her home.

IMG 9864IMG Rosa and Nicol wait in the clinic to get an X-Ray with MEDLIFE nurse Beatriz.

 

IMG 9901Beatriz hoists Rosa onto the x-ray machine.

     When we reached the final steep pitch up to Rosa’s home, the wheels of the taxi spun-out as the driver cursed at us in Spanish. We had to get out and push Rosa up ourselves. Thankfully, the road was dry. 

IMG 9922Pushing Rosa up the hill.

       The trip was worth it. After getting an X-ray, Rosa finally learned the cause of her condition. She was a victim of Polio, a virus that in some cases can spread to the nervous system causing irreparable damage and paralysis.

     Polio has been eradicated by vaccines in the majority of the world. The last case reported in the United States was in 1979, but cases continued appearing in Peru until 1991. In Rosa’s case, it cost her the use of both her legs and one arm.

     While there is no medical procedure that will give Rosa more independence, we can adapt her environment to suit her needs.

     MEDLIFE architect, Edinson Aliaga, is working on designing a special house for her that will give her more independence. When her daughter, Nicol, is at school, Rosa is on her own. She can move by crawling on the floor with her one useable arm, but nothing in her home is designed to be used by someone who cannot stand up.

IMG 0008 2Edinson talks with Nicole to gain insight for his design.

     Edinson is designing the home with one key design mantra: “Everything possible needs to be low to the ground.”

     For example, Edinson has designed a table in the kitchen so that the Rosa can sit on the floor and Nicol in a chair while they both eat off of the same table together. The entire home is being designed with this concept. Light switches close to the ground, a handicapped bathroom, a sink to wash-up with close to the ground and ramps instead of stairs.

16196163 10155090291586454 821560638 o 1Here is a rough draft of the design for the kitchen. You can see the design for the table that will let Nicole and Rosa sit together.

    This new home can make a huge difference in the lives of Rosa and Nicole, giving them more freedom, comfort, and independence. Please help us make this dream a reality by donating here.

 

January 19, 2017 1:36 PM

House Clean-up Project in Cusco

Written by Jake Kincaid

   In the 2017 winter clinic season MEDLIFE Cusco began to help organize, renovate and clean people's houses alongside our fuel efficient stove project. The effort was a great success, leaving community members with nicer homes while fostering connection and cultural exchange between volunteers and locals. We also worked to improve sanitation by enouraging better hygiene practices like, for example, encouraging people to not keep livestock in their kitchens.

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We worked closely with community members to make their homes a better living space.

IMG 5001Volunteers sanded and painted walls.

IMG 5035They organized belongings.

IMG 5222There were holes in walls that needed to be filled.

 

 IMG 5101Before the renovation project.

 IMG 5105Volunteers beginning to clear away clutter and start cleaning.

 IMG 6095Walls were painted, shelves were put on and belongings were organized.

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IMG 6578Volunteers worked closely with home owners to improve living spaces.

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IMG 7205The finished homes looked beautiful!

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IMG 7222He is the first in his family to stay in school at his age, and was kind enough to write and read a poem to thank the group for their work.

 

October 4, 2016 11:30 AM

A House for the Bravo Children

Written by Jake Kincaid

            1Three of the five Bravo children standing in front their bed in the room they all sleep in together. 

            Clinics in Esmeraldas were packed in March of 2016.  We had worked closely with the Municipal Government to organize the clinics, and it had paid off. The government had spread the word for us, and had even organized a queue. When we arrived there were about fifty people already lined up.

            After seeing dozens of patients with malnutrition, parasites, infections and chronic diseases, municipality officials told us there were some people who couldn't make it to clinic, but that we had to take the time to visit. For almost a year, the community had been pitching in to care for some kids whose parents had been orphaned by a tragic accident, and their current living situation wasn't sustainable. The community was doing all it could to support them, but in a subsistence farming community in Esmeraldas, where according to government statistics 78% of the population lives in poverty, there are not a lot of extra resources to go around.  

            We piled into a car and set off with a municipality official to go visit the kids. After a hot and bumpy ride we finally saw a wooden shack tucked into the forest on a cleared plot of land. It had been elevated several feet off of the ground with stakes stuck into the mud. The municipality encouraged everyone to build this way so that their homes were not destroyed during periodic floods. When we asked, the popular consensus was that it “sometimes” worked.

            When the municipality called up to the house three kids shuffled down the steps to greet us. All five of them lived in this small 2-room shack with their grandfather. The eldest girl Letia, 15, succinctly explained their situation: “Our parents died. And we have nowhere else- to be.” What else was there to say?

             The bed the 5 of them shared was on the right as we entered their home. Light split the large gaps between the wooden boards that made up the walls, illuminating a message scrawled in neat black lettering: “Dios es Amor,” or “God is Love.” 

In April of 2015 their parents were riding a motorcycle back from a wake at the community church when their bike stalled; a truck rounded a curb and hit them. They flew off the bike and slammed into the pavement. Both of them were found dead.

            The kids have been getting by with their grandfather, who works on an informal basis on other people's farms to support them. The work was inconsistent, and at his age (the kids were unsure how old he was but thought it was around 75) he couldn't do too much hard labour. The local government helped too, with school supplies and food. They even threw the eldest girl a quinceañera when she turned 15, just a few months after her parents died. The community coordinator told us the community was doing what they could, but they were coming up short.

2Letia standing on the deck of her grandfather's home where she now lives with her 4 siblings.

            For one, the kid's housing situation was inadequate. The house was not safe. The walls let lots of water through during rainstorms soaking the 5 children who got very cold despite being huddled together in a single bed. When the wind howled, the home shook “like a hammock.”

            The family was barely maintaining this dismal standard of living with the support of the community. Municipal officials lamented that although their grandfather and the community were doing their best to support the kids, it could not continue indefinitely.

As we left that visit, MEDLIFE Ecuador Director Martha Chicaiza told everyone present that we needed to fundraise so we could do a project for these kids. For her, it was a moral imperative.

A powerful earthquake devastated the Ecuadorian coast just weeks after our visit. The house that shook like a hammock in the wind collapsed entiredly during the powerful tremors. Thankfully, the kids were unharmed. But now, there is even less government support available and the need for outside support is even greater. The five kids and their grandfather have moved in with their aunt into another even smaller space.

            We are fundraising to build the Bravo kids a home on their grandfather's land. Help MEDLIFE give them a place to be. 

October 7, 2015 2:19 PM

A Healthier Home for Debora

Written by Rosali Vela

Debora Machuca is a bubbly two-year old who suffers from severed bowel issues due to intestinal complications caused by her premature birth. Despite all of this, Debora is a sweet, funny and mischievous little girl who captured our hearts when we met her last year. MEDLIFE has been providing Debora with medication and colostomy bags for the past year and has also paid for a surgery to start reconnecting her bowels. Debora needed a clean and comfortable living space where she can safely recover from her surgery and stay healthy. Thanks to the generous support of Katie Caudle and lots of other kind people, we were able to completely rebuild her home!

1The first time we went to Debora's house, we found it in a sordid and delporable condition.

1Her whole family was sleeping together in one small room. The roof was falling apart and the humidity was causing the walls to fill with fungus.

1Debora and her aunt during our first interview with her. Katie Caudle and Ruth Verona talked with her so she could help us understand how to best help Debora´s family.

1The first day of construction we cleared the space and brought in materials.

1MEDPrograms Director of Peru, Carlos Benavides, personally oversaw the entire construction.

1After getting rid of the roof, it was time to start working on the walls.

1Debora playing with us after recovering from her surgery.

9Debora's mom Vicky looking at her new house being built.

10Once the windows were put in place, our staff started painting.

10Debora's family chose a lovely yellow color to paint the house.

10We also painted the interior of the house.

 14We used the extra money from the fundraiser to buy Debora a new bed. Here she is seeing how it feels with Katie Caudle.

 14Now they have a new living room with safe electricity connections.

 14The MEDLIFE team with Debora's family after the inauguration.

 14Debora and Vicky in front of their new house! MEDLIFE is proud to support our patients and give them the quality of life they deserve. 

September 29, 2015 8:08 AM

A New Home for Ceverina

Written by Rosali Vela

Ceverina, a 70-year-old woman in Lima, Peru, used to live alone in a deteriorating shack that could collapse inward at any moment. One of our MEDLIFE interns, Molly Trerotola, fundraised to remove Ceverina from the dangers of her deteriorating house and build her a new home. Check out the photos taken throughout the project! 

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December 3, 2014 3:17 PM

A New Home For Julio

Written by Molly Trerotola

One person's efforts and generosity resulted in a new home and better quality of life for follow-up patient Julio Mendez Tica. Lisa Pace, a student from the United States, heard Julio's story and how his accident has caused his family immense pain and suffering. Moved by their situation, she set her goal to raise enough money to afford Julio and his family a new home. After 10 days of hard work, the new home is finally complete and ready for Julio's family to start their new life. See some photos from the project's progression below.

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Images of Julio's house before the project show the mold ridden walls, a mangled dirt floor and a deteriorating roof with many holes. The home was in terrible condition, especially for a large family with many small children like Julio's.

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Construction began with tearing the old house's walls down, laying a concrete foundation and rebuilding the house with sturdy materials. 

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Julio's entire family was part of the process, helping with the construction and working alongside MEDLIFE staff.

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After the house was rebuilt, the last step was to fill it with new, clean furniture for Julio's refurbished room. MEDLIFE interns carried dressers up a long flight of stairs up the hill the house sits on.

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The new house is complete and decorated for the official inauguration! The bright yellow color represents "alegria"—happiness, and illuminates its surrounding area.

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Julio's family gathered together to celebrate the beginning of their new life in a safe and clean environment. After so much hardship and sadness caused by Julio's accident, his family sees a happier future ahead, beginning with a positive home environment. 

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Julio, his family and MEDLIFE are extremely grateful for Lisa Pace's generosity and devotion to this project. Without her, none of this would have been possible. It is truly amazing the impact one person can make on others' lives.

The shelter that awaited us at Seferina's address has few characteristics that distinguish it from the hillside it slumps on. Camouflaged by the surrounding grass and dirt, the 70-year-old's tiny cottage is made up of molding hatched sugar can straw and damp cardboard hung from a sparse wooden frame. This has been her home for the past 30 years.

The juxtaposition between Ceverina's dilapidated abode and the two-story, concrete buildings on either side is stark and tragic. Carlos Benavides, MEDLIFE Peru's Director and our guide for the day, pointed to the neighboring buildings and said, “This is the quality of home we want to give Ceverina—she deserves a better life.”

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We were greeted with a kiss on the cheek and Ceverina's warm, welcoming smile, though she admitted she was feeling “Un poco mal,” —a little bad. Ceverina surprised us with her strength and vigor; she hobbled down the steep dirt path to the street at a quick pace despite having a heavy limp on her left side. The feat was even more impressive after my own stumbling on the way up the same path she had navigated with relative ease. Ceverina hefted a wooden post and used it to prop up her falling door. We ducked our heads and filed in.

A feeling of overwhelming sadness fell over me upon entering her home. I gazed over her environment in utter disbelief that a woman of her age, let alone anyone, lives in such conditions. Thirty years of accumulated plastic bags, newspaper, boxes and miscellaneous items —trash—fills her home from floor to ceiling, leaving a path only wide enough for one person to pass through. I turned my gaze upwards to observe patches of sunlight that shone through gaping holes in her misshapen roof. She gestured for us to follow her through her dwelling to the back section, her bedroom, which consists of two worn mattresses stacked on top of one another lying beneath a wall of garbage waiting to topple down onto her bed.

"I gazed over her environment in utter disbelief that a woman of her age, let alone anyone, lives in such conditions."

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Ceverina confessed that she is scared to sleep in such dangerous conditions.  She is worried for her safety living in such a poorly constructed home, one that could easily collapse inwards or catch of fire. Every time she turns on the electricity she risks sparking a fire to her house; she flips a circuit switch connected to several exposed and tangled wires that lead to a single light bulb hanging precariously from her roof.

Ceverina's level of poverty, she explained, has become increasingly more difficult to endure. Her home lacks two unquestionable essentials: a bathroom and kitchen. “I like to cook, but this is all I have,” Ceverina said as she motioned to a pan and a carton of eggs sitting next to a flat rock she uses to prepare food. To go to the bathroom, she treks to neighboring stores or takes a moto taxi to the market where she sometimes sells little carmelitas and cookies for income. Otherwise, Ceverina survives off of a small welfare stipend, which, she admits, is barely enough.

“Yo soy solita" - I am alone, Ceverina declared. With no family—no husband or children—to look after her, Ceverina is afraid no one knows she is there. Her neighbors, who are fortunate enough to reside in sturdy concrete buildings, do not even acknowledge her. A little while back, Ceverina was hit by a car when chasing a cat out of the street. As a result, she walks in very visible pain. If the injury had been more severe, she wouldn't have had anyone to care for her.

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In addition to a leg injury sustained from the accident, Ceverina is almost completely blind. Unfortunately, her physical state makes her considerably accident-prone, especially in her unsteady and dangerous house. Moreover, Ceverina is often sick, partially because of her age, but mostly due to the cold night air that seeps in through poorly insulated walls, which makes her the entirety of her belongings damp and moldy.

After our interview with Ceverina, we said our goodbyes and informed her of our goal to build her a better home. Her face lit up with joy and immense gratitude. “Imagine living in those conditions,” Carlos proposed as we departed Ceverina's residence and reflected on our visit.

MEDLIFE hopes to improve Ceverina's quality of life, but we need your help. You can provide a new beginning.

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From a distance, Soledad Roja's house in Villa Maria Del Triunfo is barely distinguishable from the hill's natural landscape; it blends in amongst the gray rocks covered with brown and green moss. Her house appears as a small dark smudge of rotting wood and crumpling walls between brightly colored houses with sturdy foundations and roofs.

Carlos Benavides, MEDLIFE Peru's Director, did not need to say that our mission for Soledad and her son would be to build them a new house. It was obvious upon our arrival that their living conditions are unsuitable and very unsafe. The family of two stood outside as we navigated the jagged and unsteady rocks —their stairs—leading up to meet them. Soledad and her 10-year-old son Jose Manuel have survived a decade in accommodations that do not even qualify as a house, but would be more aptly described as a deteriorating shelter the size of a small bedroom. 

They were timid and a bit apprehensive as we introduced ourselves—Soledad's young face revealed signs of immense sadness and grief for her situation. Despite some hesitation, she opened her half-hinged door and welcomed us inside, the drizzling rain following us in through a gap in the two puckered, tin slats that make up the roof.

Soledad and Jose's personal items are few. They share a mattress that rests on their dirt floor, a few ramshackle pieces of furniture, and a jumbled array of plastic bags that protect their clothes from imposing elements. Soledad pointed to her kitchen: a small table in the corner. I spotted a few books and a ball, but they don't have much else. A dim light hung above the covered side of the shelter, illuminating the thin layer of mold that coats the crumpled walls, one of which is simply a tarp.

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Many factors forced Soledad and Jose to live in these conditions and have prevented them from affording anything better. During our interview, Soledad began recounting a brief synopsis of her life story by explaining that she was forced into motherhood at a young age after being raped by a male friend. Her godparents, whom she lived with because her mother is schizophrenic, kicked her out when she became pregnant. Soledad never had a father. Surprisingly, her son's father remains loosely connected to them; she has recently taken him to court to demand some form of child support.

As a single mother, Soledad's income must not only provide the bare necessities for herself and her son, but also Jose's private school tuition.  Jose has severe ADHD, for which he also goes to therapy. Soledad considers her son's education a first priority and will do anything within her power to afford him an adequate education. As a result, the majority of her small income is funneled into a school with the educational resources Jose needs. Soledad explained that on top of the regular charge, the school often requires unexplained additional payments that she must make to keep Jose enrolled.

Soledad works doing inventory at a lab and must work ten hours a day, seven days a week to earn enough money to make ends meet. The other day she fell on the rocks and hurt her back, but she couldn't afford to miss one day of pay, so she still went to work. Her sister lends a hand by picking Jose up from school and watching him in while Soledad is at work—but she then charges Soledad for her help. After paying for Jose's public school, paying for electricity, paying her sister and paying for food, Soledad has no savings. “My dream is to save money… any money,” she admitted.

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Soledad feels alone. Although her sister is within reach, her help comes at a price, leaving Soledad without any supportive family or friends. She explained that her neighbors are not inclined to offer any assistance; they resent that she is absent from the community, but Soledad is always at work and doesn't even have time for her son. She said a local church gave her aid when Jose was diagnosed with Hepatitis A, but other than that she has no support.

We wanted to put a functioning roof over their heads, raise sturdy walls to protect them from the weather, and build safe steps leading up to a livable home. Thanks to our generous donors the project is now funded and we can complete our goal!