We at Mamiverse are proud and excited to support the work of TECHO, a youth led non-profit organization that is battling poverty on the ground in Latin America and the Caribbean. TECHO has a big vision—to eliminate poverty. Its mission is to awaken society as a whole to the injustices of crushing poverty, and inspire individuals to work towards overcoming it. Through community development, social awareness and political advocacy, TECHO seeks to break the cycle of poverty with long term, sustainable solutions.
Since its founding in Chile in 1997, TECHO has expanded its grassroots efforts to El Salvador, Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela. In those 16 years, more than 600,000 youth volunteers have worked in the slums of those countries, forming community partnerships, building nearly 100,000 transitional houses, and laying the groundwork for greater structural change.
In practice, TECHO volunteers work with families and communities in the areas of the most extreme poverty—think the slums of Port au Prince, Rio di Janeiro or Bogota—and empowers residents to change their destinies and their communities, one small step at a time. But TECHO is not about a team of volunteers swooping in, building a few houses and then leaving. Its efforts are community-driven, with volunteers provided the organizing skills and elbow grease and working side by side and in partnership with community members.
For TECHO volunteers, the process starts with their traveling to the slums and witnessing the realities of day-to-day life. There, by living with and interviewing community members, they develop a diagnosis of what help is most urgently needed and help organize and promote participation from the community. Once needs are diagnosed in the areas of livability, education, labor, among others, volunteers work with local families to develop real solutions. As community members learn how to manage their own wellbeing and development, young volunteers get a lesson in poverty and its causes.
In slums across Latin America and the Caribbean, stable, livable housing is the most urgent need. That is why TECHO volunteers and community members construct transitional housing as the first tangible, short term solution. The houses built by TECHO are prefabricated modules of 162 square feet, built in two days, with the participation of young volunteers and families in the community. This process is done with a community approach, which promotes the organization and participation of the community.
Next, TECHO focuses on the implementation of education plans, work plans, such as basic skills training and micro-credit for the development of small businesses. TECHO links communities with networks to develop programs to further meet community goals and contribute to the generation of solutions. At this phase, as well, TECHO community and volunteer partners implement lasting, sustainable solutions to fight poverty. Most importantly, this involves empowering families living in slums to demand their basic rights, for property, services, infrastructure, housing, education and local development.
With these steps small and large, TECHO is partnering with poor communities across the Americas to start forging a path out of poverty and awakening legions of young people to the realities of poverty, and how it doesn’t have to be inevitable. If you’d like to get involved, opportunities are always available for individuals and companies interested in volunteering with or supporting TECHO.