This blog post will provide a recap of the run up to our Habitat for Humanity Global Village Challenge and our time building in Buenos Aires. It will be a useful reference point for the 70 blog posts that have preceded this one.
This Blog and the inkstersgive.com website were officially launched on 23 September 2009 with thanks to corporate sponsor, Innovation Digital.
There is a link from the InkstersGive site to our JustGiving page, and it was not long before the donations started rolling in. This included our first US donation from Richard Prickman of Bitcher & Prickman. However, he was not allowed to outdo his Partner, Beatrice Bitcher. There followed more donations from my Twitter followers including generous corporate sponsors: The Trial Warrior, Silverman Sherliker and Valentilaw. The generosity of Twitter followers was overwhelming as seen in Fundraising and the Power of Twitter and #FollowFriday for Just Giving.
We had asked for help to cover our hard hats with logos and were having good success. In addition to those corporate sponsors already mentioned we had Inksters, Page\Park, Harley Haddow and Theatreplan on board. They were to be joined by Barr Brady, Oce and Jeffrey Aitken.
We were getting plenty of attention in the legal and architectural press, all helping to raise awareness and encourage donations.
In amongst all this we started Spanish classes with a teacher from Argentina at Centro Español Loco. We were to go on to take 5 Spanish lessons in total. Our teacher ended up joining our La Bordona Tango class at Sloans.
I read a Chinese Poem from 700BC. Our T-Shirts were printed and offered for sale. We were all set to head to Argentina.
Nicola and I arrived in Argentina a couple of days ahead of the rest of our Group. This gave us a chance to acclimatise and recover from the jet lag before beginning building work. It also meant we experienced floods in Buenos Aires on our first day there.
When the rest of the Group (13 of us in total) arrived from the UK it was straight into Orientation and learning about the 22 de Enero neighbourhood that we would be working in.
Then building works commenced. By the end of day 4 which consisted of painting, digging holes and moving concrete fence posts I was very tired but equally elated. Our active filled days passed by quickly with a brick wall, yellow paint and a concrete column, not to mention a higher wall, more yellow paint and a bedroom extension.
We were also able to celebrate the work we had done with the community when we attended the inauguration of the room we painted yellow.
On a day where work was rained off we had the opportunity to visit the Recovering Urban Homes Project and learn of the other work Habitat for Humanity was doing within Buenos Aires. On the way Jas met Maradona in La Boca.
On day 8 and on day 9 we were given time off for rest and relaxation. This allowed us to see Buenos Aires and take in some Tango.
Then back to work and Nicola and I worked together one morning on Tito’s wall. Nicola spent most of her time in La Matanza building Tito’s wall and became a very accomplished bricklayer as a result. I moved around more to work on different projects such as building Miguel’s walls, moving earth at Alejandro’s property, moving rubble at Antoñin’s house, and building Germán’s tower. This gave me a good perspective on the different living conditions and family units that exist in 22 de Enero. It had been particularly gratifying to help the poorest of these families who were just starting out to build homes to replace the shacks they were living in.
Our time at La Matanza came to a close and we had to say farewell to 22 de Enero community. The families were truly grateful for the time we had spent with them and the work we had been able to do for them. Beba wrote a thank you note and Alejandro wrote that “if all the world helped like you, all the world would be better”. With tears in our eyes the bus took us out over the dirt track from 22 de Enero and back to Buenos Aires.
Then it was time to say farewell to Hábitat para la Humanidad Argentina and have a “make your world a home” photograph taken.
Back in the UK I blogged that it was “over but not out”. Indeed with Tessa Shepperson making Habitat for Humanity her Charity of the month at Landlord-Law Blog and Armitage Associates becoming our Christmas Corporate Sponsor the fundraising continues. As 2009 comes to a close I will be considering how best we can retain links with our new friends in 22 de Enero and help them in 2010. In the meantime please help them this Christmas by giving at www.justgiving.com/argentina2009.