Fundacion Esperanza de Mexico
Building Hope and Homes for low-income communities in Tijuana
Click on the image to go to FEM website
It’s been 4 years now that I have been part of a great organization in which I truly believe in…Fundacion Esperanza de Mexico (FEM). FEM has been working in very low-income neighborhoods in the city of Tijuana, creating community ties through self-built housing projects. In a city where most of the labor force works in the manufacturing industry there is a great need for reliable and well-built housing specifically around the many industrial parks that attract laborers from as far south as Central America.
FEM first task is to do a detailed community surveys of the areas where it will begin to work, this way it is able to target the most disenfranchised families as well identifying the prospective leaders within the community. In this manner the help FEM provides can reach interested groups of community members who desire to improve their way of life and at the same time allowing to put in place a program that can have a long lasting effect in the neighborhood.
The next steps of the program entails the creation of a self-organized and managed construction fund where individual members of the community deposit as much money as they can, later FEM helps the families to obtain a federal subsidy that pays for almost half of the homes and allows the families to pay off the credit they received from the fund in two to three years. This process requires approximately 8 to 10 months before the construction of the first home is built. Some community funds are now in their tenth year and have enough money to continue the program on their own and sometimes are able to lend seed money to new upcoming funds.
During the time the funds are being organized, a participating family is chosen to be the first one to build a module. A module is how FEM works; they come in 3 different unit dimensions that in the future can be connected or stacked to create an entire home even a two level house. Because the loan and subsidy of the federal government the family pays off the module very quickly and is able to continue in the program and begin construction of a second or third module according to a plan laid out with FEM in the initial phase of design with the family. The building material is a mortar-less concrete block that is easy to fabricate and build with. The families learn to make their own blocks, encouraging community participation and producing a block that is lower in cost than what the market offers.
Once the blocks are ready and the first inspection to the plots is made construction can begin. It is important to note that FEM only requirement for a family to participate in the program is that they have legal ownership of the land or are in the process of getting a title. Part of the construction of the house is a collaborative process as well, FEM gets help from many organized groups that come to Tijuana from the United States and abroad to help in the construction of the homes. Many of these groups are young high school and university students as well as older professionals or faith based groups. They come to FEM and Tijuana not only to build houses but also to foster global citizenship, international awareness and a gratifying personal experience.
In solidarity, after the home or module is done the family cooks a great meal for the volunteer groups. The unit then is ready to be personalized, painted and inhabited to later grow as the family requires and envisions their future home!
If you would like to help and/or get involved please visit FEM webpage at www.esperanzademexico.org there you can find the email contact for more information or donate through paypal and help build a better future for the communities in our program!