Some of you may remember that in mid-October San José Las Palmas, one of the communities where we work, was hit with an uncharacteristically heavy hailstorm and torrential rains. In this impoverished community homes are commonly roofed with corrugated tarpaper, which unfortunately is not made to withstand severe weather. In all, 65 of these fragile structures suffered varying degrees of damage, and 12 families lost everything they owned when their roofs collapsed and their homes were completely destroyed.
In keeping with our philosophy of offering a “hand up” instead of a “handout,” ConeXión Mosaico created an emergency relief fund to provide no-interest, construction microloans so those families hardest hit by the disaster might rebuild their homes. Thanks to the generous gifts provided by you, our donors, we were able to raise enough money to provide disaster relief loans to 16 families. This assistance made it possible for the families to purchase corrugated tin panels instead of having to buy tarpaper again. At this time all 16 families have finished rebuilding their homes, which will now also be better able to withstand inclement weather in the future.
Aside from our emergency relief project, this type of microloan assistance is completely unheard of in San José Palmas. After the disaster, some of the community “strongmen” offered to assist the affected families by giving them a certain number of “free” tarpaper panels per household. In most cases, it amounted to less than half of what the family needed to make the necessary repairs. However, families could only receive this assistance in exchange for giving those local “bosses” a copy of their voter registration card. These corrupt leaders then use those copies to gain personal advantage and manipulate the political process during elections.
At ConeXión Mosaico, we are committed to helping slum dwellers live with dignity. This includes providing an alternative to the exploitation and injustice the poor commonly suffer at the hands of those who would take advantage of their dire circumstances. To that end, funds raised during our disaster relief effort will continue to assist other slum families during future emergencies. Each family was asked to commit to repaying 70% of the funds provided to them and allowed to set the amount they could afford to repay in weekly installments, To date, the majority of families have been faithful in making their scheduled payments. Those payments are being set aside in a relief fund which will be available in the future to assist other slum disaster victims.
At this time we would like to extend a sincere “thank you” to all of those who contributed to the establishment of the new emergency relief fund. Your generosity has truly made such a critical difference in the lives of these 16 families… and for many more still to come.