The Kitchen is In!

You all are absolutely the BEST! Thank you for your generosity in making it possible for us to build a Home for Juan Manuel!

In our last post to you we showed you the newly painted outside of the house with its doors and windows in place, including several videos. Today I am happy to report that we have a working kitchen installed, using donated wooden cabinet doors and a steel sink and building a base around them for kitchen storage and a counter to cook on. Woot woot! We also have water and electricity functioning in the house! Zata has built a very basic back patio using extra block and gravel, where a hose bib and donated washboard will be installed so Juan Manuel and Don Rodolfo can wash their clothes and the water will run off or soak in rather than make mud. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

A good friend of mine has offered to donate a brand new refrigerator. Fingers crossed! So, all we seem to be missing are:

  •  A small boiler for hot water—might you know someone who has one???
  • And two single beds (a trundle bed would be ideal) or at least single mattresses, as anything larger will not fit in this very small home.

Please help if you can. Ways to donate to support this project are listed at the bottom of the very first post in the series.

Once the above projects are finished, we still need to paint the interior. Some work remains on the septic tank as well.

My hope is that next time I write to you it will be to invite you to the masked and socially distanced celebration at which we hand over the keys to the home’s new owners! Bless you all!!!

Home Update February 1st

Jorge, Dianne and Zata

It’s a new month! Can you believe it’s already the second one of this new year?! Where has time gone? There are so many people in town for the Serie del Caribe; please take precautions for your health and safety, as hospital occupancy and COVID infections continue on the rise.

This past week we finished up the basic structure of the Home for Juan Manuel! It looks great! The inside walls are now plastered, the cement floor is finished, and a hole for the septic tank has been dug. A woman has kindly donated a ceiling fan with a wall switch, so we will use this one for this project and keep the hotel’s ceiling fan for a future project (this one is much nicer). We are coordinating with the authorities to have electrical and water connected to the house. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

This coming week Zata will seal the floor, put waterproofing on the roof and outdoor walls, finish the hot water connection and build a platform for the tinaco. If time remains, he will work on bringing electricity from the pole to the house and begin to install a drainage system in the back of the house for used water. A friend of Yolanda’s will come to build the septic tank, making it out of block in the front so it’s more accessible for the truck that will pump it out.

The biggest challenge we’ve had for several weeks has been an inability to secure the house, which stops us from finishing up anything inside. A woman has kindly and generously volunteered to install windows, but she has been out of town for a few weeks. The wooden door we got from the hotel needs to be resized, but we can’t find a carpenter to do that for us affordably. Without an ability to secure the house, we can’t install finishes such as sinks, switches and toilets, as they will get robbed. Thus, the five of us met today: Greg, Jorge, Yolanda, Zata and me, and decided to bite the bullet and buy security bars for the two missing windows and a security door for the front. Once secured, Zata should be able to quickly proceed with installing interior fixtures.

Bless you all! This is a love-filled, charitable project for a very good cause, and your generosity and cooperation are making it possible. Thank you. Should you or anyone you know care to help out, the ways to donate are:

  • Click the “Donate” link in the right-hand column on this VidaMaz.com website, and pay via PayPal.
  • Go to any OXXO and donate to BanCoppel account 4169-1603-7041-0699 (photo below) in the name of Yolanda Medina.

  • Canadians who prefer to email money can send it to Jeanette Leraand: jleraand@gmail.com
  • Contact Yolanda via WhatsApp at 669 431 4529 to arrange a time to meet and give her your donation.
  • Contact me at dianne@vidamaz.com and I’ll pick up your donation.

A Home for Juan Manuel Update Jan 26th

The great news last week included that so many of you were once again so very generous with your donations. Thank you!! You want this house built and finished as much as I do and almost as much as Juan Manuel and Don Rodolfo! Funds received to date are 108,797 pesos. Total paid out thus far is 68,687, with a balance remaining of 40,110. This is terrific news, as last week we had gotten very tight. 

Yolanda and I were able to go to the Aguamarina Hotel on Wednesday and pick out a nice selection of the things they are selling (they are closing their doors as the hotel will be demolished and a huge development á la Camino al Mar will go in its place)—generously donated to us free of charge. We were able to get a couple of wooden doors (that need to be resized for our purposes), a ceiling fan, a bunch of electrical outlets and switches, light fixtures, a plastic table, and a couple of tambos or plastic garbage cans to use to store water. We also got quite a bit of bedding and kitchen items which we can put to good use in this and other projects.

This week’s plan is to plaster the interior walls of the house and begin installing electrical and plumbing finishes, including the kitchen and bathroom sinks and toilet. The lady who has donated these items has also promised us her old tinaco, which we won’t get for a couple more weeks. Thank you!!!

This morning I received a note from a lady who has most kindly and generously offered to conduct a fundraiser amongst her family and friends to raise the money needed to build the wheelchair ramps that I had hoped to build for both Juan Manuel and his neighbor, Don José. As of last week, I’d given up on that dream. Bless her. I need to get her estimates on cost, so she knows how much to aim for in her campaign.

Thank you all! The house is a solid structure, with a roof and drainage. We have what we need for the interior; now we just need to finish that up and then install windows and doors. We are getting closer! If you or a friend or neighbor would like to help out with this project, the ways to donate are listed at the end of the original post.

Merry Christmas/House for Juan Manuel

May the joy and hope of this holiday season fill each of you and help keep you healthy and happy throughout the year!

Today on Christmas Eve Day we went out to Colonia San Antonio. Having handed out chickens and food every Christmas Eve for nearly 25 years, it just didn’t feel like the holidays without it. We gave out some toys to the kids, some clothing and household items to the adults, and chatted with some of the friends we’ve made there over the years, including Don José and Maestra Zulema. We got to know Juan Manuel’s new neighbor, Lucero, who has kindly agreed to store our supplies in her fenced yard that’s guarded by watch dogs during our construction process. 

This week we made great progress: the concrete floor was poured, and the workers began to build the cinder block walls. It is wonderful to be able to walk inside the house and feel the size of the rooms and picture how it will be! Very exciting stuff thanks to all of you!!!

After reviewing this week’s progress and paying Zata and his helper, we went over to wish Don Rodolfo and Juan Manuel a Merry Christmas. The horrible news this week was that Don Rodolfo had a mild stroke. He is a bit paralyzed on the left side of his mouth and in his left arm/hand and leg. He was lucky, for sure. He went to a neurologist for assessment and has medicines, and we are hoping to get him to a cardiologist right after Christmas. Below is their beautiful greeting of well wishes and appreciation to each of you:

Third Update on the House

Bless you all for your big hearts and your willingness to help those in need! We now have 34 donors and 63,645 pesos to build a house (cinder block room) for Juan Manuel and his father! Our core team has grown, and we hope to break ground the middle of this week. Thank you and please keep getting the word out to your friends and neighbors!

This week we were able to make substantial progress, which very much relieved me prior to everyone stopping work for the holiday season.

  1. Two architects, Sergio Wong and Jesús Iván Moreno Jiménez, have donated their time to produce plans for us. Please join me in thanking them for this volunteer service! Their work is important, as we want a very basic one-room home that will be pleasant and secure to live in, and the plan we put together will hopefully become a prototype for future simple homes for other needy families. The final design is 258 square feet or 24 square meters and includes an indoor bathroom and kitchen—both a change from the original plans which had both outdoors, but something we feel is important. It will be built of cinder block rather than brick, as that is both cheaper and resistant to salitre, the salt staining that is so common here. The roof will be concrete, and the flooring simple outdoor tile. The home will have front and back doors, a window facing the street and a long, narrow window in the bathroom for light. Water will initially come from a hose but will be plumbed in hopes of city water one day. The one room is a “stub” or “pie de casa” which can easily be added onto in the future if good fortune strikes. 
  2. We have found a new albañil or construction worker, Zata (real name Edward), who is very experienced, seems quite capable, disciplined and committed to this charity project. Let us hope.
  3. I invited our compadre, Jorge Hernández, who has 30+ years of experience in building and maintaining homes, to a meeting with Yolanda, Zata, Greg and myself, with the architect attending by phone. To me this meeting was crucially important. 
    • Jorge pointed out a couple of things that will cost a few pesos now but will be crucial for Juan Manuel’s future, such as running 4-inch drainage pipe under the floor that can easily be connected to a sewage system once there is one in the community; slanting the floor slightly so rain water will run off (invasions are notorious for flooding); and adding in connections for possible future ceiling fans.
    • Greg’s input was invaluable in making sure that doorways would be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair and that the bathroom would be ample enough to accommodate turning around in one. While Juan Manuel is currently on crutches, he may someday be in a chair due to his health challenges, and if this plan is a prototype for future projects, accessibility is a key issue.
    • Jorge has kindly agreed to volunteer as project supervisor during construction. I am very grateful Jorge, with his experience and expertise, has joined the team! He is recovering from a horrible bout of COVID, so we must be mindful of his energy.

Sadly, we are still waiting on updated materials lists from the architects so that we can get bids and update our budget. While they told us we’d have these by Friday, now they tell us it may not be till the new year.

We have received Zata’s bid on his labor, and I post that below. I am thrilled that he is ready to start work tomorrow, Monday 14 December. He will begin by excavating and then installing the septic tank. A key issue during construction will be preventing theft. Both Zata, Jorge and Maestra Zulema, from Colonia San Antonio, cautioned us about the high degree of theft of building materials. We have planned to order only a week’s worth of supplies at a time, and to store them at Juan Manuel’s current home, so that Zata can pick them up there on a daily basis. Hopefully that will minimize our exposure to theft.

If any of you know someone who could donate cinder block, that would be an enormous help. Also needed soon will be rebar, concrete and, of course, the septic tank.

What else can I tell you? As you know, the home will be built in Colonia San Antonio, an invasión or squatter community here in town. The lot was gifted to Juan Manuel and his father. It is in the section of the colony run by Maestra Zulema, who we know well from the Chicken Breakfast. She assures us that Juan Manuel and his father have all their paperwork in order to build. However, building in any squatter community involves risk. No one owns title to the land on which they build until, at some later date they hope, the municipality awards it to them. Such is common practice for people living at poverty levels here in Mazatlán and throughout Latin America, but I want everyone who donates to understand the situation. Juan Manuel and Don Rodolfo have been paying electricity and water, which provides them legal protection for their lot, but they do not legally own it outright despite having paperwork that says they do. The colony has hundreds if not thousands of squatter homes, so there is strength in numbers.

There are several options for donating money or materials to help with this project:

  • Click the “Donate” link in the right-hand column on this VidaMaz.com website, and pay via PayPal.
  • Go to any OXXO and donate to BanCoppel account 4169-1603-7041-0699 (photo below) in the name of Yolanda Medina.


 

  • Canadians who prefer to email money can send it to Jeanette Leraand: jleraand@gmail.com
  • Contact Yolanda via WhatsApp at 669 431 4529 to arrange a time to meet and give her your donation.
  • Contact me at dianne@vidamaz.com and I’ll pick up your donation.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate! Blessed Hannukah and Kwanzaa! May 2021 bring us much more health, sanity and joy, as well as a new and much-needed home for Juan Manuel and Don Rodolfo. No doubt you all have good karma for your help with this project!