Recently, Framingham MakerSpace members provided tools and labor to establish a woodworking shop and taught Scratch computer programming at Bendición de Dios, a non-profit private school in Alotenango, Guatemala. While there, we visited some homes and were appalled at the living conditions. Rusted corrugated steel walls and roof, dirt floors, chickens and dogs roaming throughout, a single 6′ x 8′ bedroom for the entire family, an outdoor “kitchen” with a wood fired stove creating smoke that made breathing extraordinarily difficult.
Asociación Bendición de Dios has upgraded more than a hundred of these hovels with a concrete bedroom and bathroom over the years, but the process has been necessarily piecemeal. The founder/director, Julio Garcia Gonzalez, explained to us that land ownership was necessary in order to build a house, and few of their families have access to the required money. We asked what it would take to buy a piece of land for many houses to be built from scratch. He said he could get land for 15-20 homes for about $30,000, and if he could get the land, he has donors and other means to build the houses. An anonymous donor committed to providing the initial payment of $10,000 to establish the fund. We still need to raise $20,000 within six months.