WILL volunteers’ home repair project benefits a Palomas family

home repair recipients

WILL volunteers and Border Partners gave a single-parent family’s home some much-needed repairs.

Volunteers from Silver City, NM teamed with Border Partners to complete an intensive one-day home repair project and improve one family’s life. Volunteers from the Western Institute for Lifelong Learning [WILL], a grass-roots education organization, repaired one Puerto Palomas family’s substandard home last week.

Six WILL workers, many of whom were new volunteers for us, met us in downtown Palomas midmorning on January 29. Each volunteer contributed not only their time but also a stipend of $20 for home repair supplies and costs.

towel on holeBorder Partners staffer Marisol Guillen sifted through many needs in Palomas and selected a family whose home lacked a functioning roof and several panes of window glass. Winter cold also poured past the orange bath towel that futilely hung across the six square-foot hole in the small building’s rear wall.

The eldest son of this single-parent family died last year when the teen’s sports injury, untreated due to the family’s lack of funds, led to hip cancer. Grief and its accompanying depression ensued. The mother and her four surviving children became further mired as trauma left them unable to cope with stresses of daily life.

workers at work

Workers together tackled a challenge, and accomplished the most urgent repairs to the humble adobe home.

WILL volunteer workers–assisted by Border Partners personnel, volunteers from Palomas, and family members–moved four truckloads of rubble and debris from the yard to the landfill. This was a monumental improvement for a family lacking transportation. They filled the gaping hole in the rear wall and replaced or patched the broken window panes.

So much water entered the home through its leaky roof that the family had actually installed an eave trough inside the home to collect it. Volunteers covered that roof with corrugated tin panels and removed tree branches that had damaged the roofing. They also trimmed tree branches that had entwined with the wire delivering electricity to the house.

This home repair project reinforces Border Partners’ conviction that cooperative efforts can improve life in the border community. A slide show of images from the work repair day [CLICK HERE] is posted on the Border Partners Flickr account.

We heartily thank WILL volunteers Eric Ockerhausen, Dominick Bassi, Andy Payne, Chris Allen, Ann Hedlund, and Tom Bates.

WILL offers ongoing learning experiences for learners of any age. A second WILL February 21. In addition, a WILL tour of our projects in Palomas is slated for March 7. WILL originates in Grant County, New Mexico and is a partner of Western New Mexico University in Silver City.

Papercrete adds value to a Palomas home

completed addition

Papercrete addition to Palomas home adds value economically.

Home readied for addition.

Palomas home is readied for a papercrete addition.

Papercrete is a building material that is gaining acceptance because its production recycles paper products for construction uses.

Just as importantly, papercrete provides improved insulation. According to Wikipedia, papercrete’s R-value is within 2.0 and 3.0 per inch. And since papercrete walls are typically several inches thick, that provides great insulation from summer sun and cold winter winds.

papercrete walls

Papercrete block is used instead of cement block.

Unlike concrete or adobe, papercrete blocks are lightweight, less than a third of the weight of a comparably-sized adobe brick. This is because the paper fiber replaces the sand, clay or gravel component found in adobe or cement.  Papercrete is also mold resistant and also assists sound-reduction.

For all of those reasons, Border Partners is promoting papercrete as a potential boon to Palomas. A local family used papercrete blocks to add a room to their home this month. The photos illustrating this post show papercrete in action!

finishing exterior

The exterior of the walls receive a protective finish.

Housing cooperative to restore housing dignity in Palomas

Marisol and Benita are two single mothers who live in Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico. The challenges they face don’t defeat them. Their dreams to improve life for themselves and their children birthed a plan of action. 

Palomas home in need of repair

Palomas home needs repair

The two women approached us with an idea. A big idea. They told us that they wanted to start a cooperative. As they imagined it, those who joined the group will commit to helping each other repair their deteriorating homes.  It’s easy to see that a single mom working alone can’t accomplish much in the home repair department. Generally her hands are full with child care, daily household needs and perhaps a full-time job, for those who are fortunate enough to have employment. Many repairs go better and faster with two people. But a group effort can really make a difference!

In order to join this housing cooperative, each member will contribute some money each month to the costs for the group. From this pool of funding, group members will purchase the building materials they need for repairs. Coming up with the start-up funding will require a real sacrifice, but Marisol and Benita are ready to do what it takes to give their children a better place to live.

Many homes are in rugged shape. The new coop members decided to prioritize the homes that are most in need of repair. That means that some in the group will be helping others, counting on the ongoing commitment of the group that their turn will come.

We hope that we can further assist these families in need with added funding to augment the materials that they, on very limited incomes, will be able to finance. The need is great, as this slide show of Palomas homes shows:

With your help, we can help them help themselves and improve lives on the U.S.-Mexico border

…one house at a time.