San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Housewarming Celebration in Puerto Jiménez

PUERTO JIMENEZ, OsaPeninsula – Rosa Jiménez and three of her five children don’t have to cram into her uncle’s weathered two-bedroom house anymore.

They have a new home, just down the street.

“This is really great,” she said, standing in a pasture looking at the windswept wood columns on her uncle’s worn doorstep. “I’m really happy and thankful for this.”

Jiménez, 39, makes and sells coconut oil from her uncle’s porch, and says that “work is scarce and poverty is much” in the port town. Since her husband passed away six years ago, she and her children have made do with the small rooms and narrow hallways of her uncle’s modest home.

Jiménez and six of her neighbors received new quarters this weekend thanks to Feed my Sheep, a U.S. based non-profit, and the Chilean-based Un Techo Para Mi País (A roof for my country), which provided volunteer labor. A team of 30 volunteers began building the modest frame houses with tin roofs on Friday and dedicated all seven dwellings on Saturday afternoon.

Each home is about 200 square feet and costs roughly $1,700 to construct, 10 percent of which is funded by the family. Un Techo Para Mi País trains each family in basic construction methods so that they can keep the home in good condition and make improvements when necessary.

“It’s good, because the family feels like they have put something into the house too,” said Carla, 21, who has helped build seven houses in Costa Rica with Un Techo Para Mi País. “Ultimately, this is their home. We just help them get off the ground.”

Inside Jiménez’ new home, Julia, her six-year- old blonde-haired daughter, jumped up to look through the new latch window.

“Wow, this is incredible,” she said with a big smile stretching between her freckled cheeks. “Grandma, come see!”

Un Techo Para Mi País is expected to return to Puerto Jiménez to build seven more homes before the year’s end. The group is doing a study to determine which families are most in need of a new home.

Feed My Sheep, which paid for the materials for the houses built last weekend, also funds a soup kitchen that prepares lunch for nearly 200 children per day in San Miguel de Desamparados.

–Mike McDonald

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