First House Update of the New Year

Left to right: yours truly, Zata, Rodolfo, Yolanda, Jorge and Greg

I trust you all had wonderful holidays! I did not update you on progress on a Home for Juan Manuel last week, so I am anxious to do so today.

Today Don Rodolfo, Juan Manuel’s father, joined us when we went out to review the progress. He was so incredibly moved. I post video of him below, thanking each of you for your help. What I failed to get on video was the spontaneous dance he did, joyously singing, “I’m stepping on my own land!” He has had a lifelong dream of owning rather than renting a home that, thanks to so many of you, is about to come true.

We have received a little over 81,000 pesos from you, and to date have paid out about half of that for supplies and the albañil labor. Zata worked all through Christmas and New Year’s, taking off just the two main holidays. He and his helper have finished putting up the block walls and are ready for the roof! Wood has been delivered for scaffolding, and they have sand and concrete to get started pouring concrete. The block walls have spaces for three windows and two doors. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

You can see in the photos that this week progress was not of the quality level that it has been up to this point. Zata had explanations and reasons for every error, and assured us there wouldn’t be any more. Jorge admonished him that if the quality didn’t return next week his payment would suffer, so fingers crossed.

This past week we received a kind and generous donation of a microwave oven, which as soon as it’s delivered from the store we will get over to Juan Manuel and his father. The oven they have been using had an actual hole in it. I’ll feel much better when they stop using it.

Don Rodolfo’s facial paralysis and left hand numbness continue after his minor stroke, but he has now seen both a neurologist and a cardiologist. Juan Manuel has been suffering with a boil on his back that is very bothersome and prevents him from sleeping well. Yolanda was fortunately able to get them both some of the medicines they need through her social services connections.

I do hope that 2021 will bring our world more health and physical connection. Bless you for your generosity of spirit and pocketbook! I’d welcome you sharing the original article on this project with your friends and family to help us get more donations of money or materials.

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:

Fifth House Update

This week we are commencing our second week of construction. Thus far Zata has been doing an excellent job. He sends us photos of his work on a daily basis, as well as photos of all deliveries and invoices. That system has been working great and hopefully will continue that way. The foundation and underground portion of the plumbing are in, as you can see from the photos—note the pipes for both the kitchen and the bathroom. Next will be installing the platforms for the walls and putting in the floor.

Jorge and Greg went to the job site on Friday to review the work and pay Zata. The architect went by today (Monday) to check on the quality and accuracy of the work. Late last week we opened an account at a construction supply store that makes deliveries to the job site every day in order to prevent theft. However, we are having to get resourceful as some days the supply shop doesn’t have what we need, so we have to go looking elsewhere. But, so far so good. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

To date we have received donations from 41 wonderfully generous people for a total of almost 72,000 pesos. In addition this week we received an in-kind donation of a toilet and bathroom sink, as well as a few smaller items such as a toilet paper holder, towel bars and shelves. Bless you all! Juan Manuel and Don Rodolfo will be over the moon to own such high quality ceramic items!

The lot on which we are building the house is very small. However, it is in an excellent location within the invasion, with green space and a nice view. The neighbors also seem kind. Here is a short video of the location:

Zata is telling us that he is hoping to have construction of the house completed in six weeks, which means four more to go. Fingers crossed! Thank you all for your holiday generosity! Your caring is making a huge difference in the lives of these two gentlemen. Please get the word out to your friends and neighbors; together we can do this. Here is the link to the initial article with information on how to donate.

Fourth House Update

We have broken ground on the home for Juan Manuel, folks! Zata, the construction worker, began work with his assistant on Monday. On Tuesday Don Rodolfo visited the site and Zata reported that tears of joy welled in his eyes! You all are giving the most marvelous Christmas present to Juan Manuel and his father! Bless you now and forever! Below are photos of the first three days of work:

Let us hope that things can continue to go well. Zata and his helper have found the dirt to be very hard to dig, thanks to the lack of rain we’ve had this year. I pray they both stay healthy and continue with the excitement for the project that they are currently showing.

In my last post I shared with you Zata’s bid for labor. We now also have two different bids for materials. We are still in negotiations with the providers. One has everything and is our best choice, and they’ve promised to discount their bid for us. The second was a bit cheaper, but that is because they don’t have all the materials we need. Thus, I have created an updated budget, below. I am trusting the materials budget will go down once we hear back from the supplier.

 

To date we have collected nearly 70,000 pesos. As with any construction project, I am sure we will have some overruns, so it will be very good if we can have a bit of cushion money-wise. And, as I mentioned, theft of supplies and equipment is a major potential problem of which Zata is very aware.

I trust you are as happy as I am with this news. I know Juan Manuel and Rodolfo are glowing with joy. Please keep getting the word out to your friends and neighbors. You can share with them the original post with information on how to donate, or any of my progress updates. Together we can do this! And, hopefully, if all goes well, we will have workable plans and a system in place to build further simple yet safe homes for those in most dire need in our beloved Mazatlán. 

 

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!