Improving a former land invasion
40 years ago, Fr. Josse helped a group of homeless families to organize a land invasion at the Northern periphery of Santiago. Since then families gradually built modest houses with the help of local authorities and parish groups. Some houses are now solid and nice homes, while others remained precarious over time.
37 families of Villa Van der Rest could upgrade their houses with technical and financial assistance delivered by HPH. Improvements ranged from replacing deteriorated roofs to repairing bathrooms and kitchens or renovating electrical wiring to prevent accidents and fires in the homes. All these works allowed for a more comfortable, safe and healthy domestic environment. Professionals from HPH delivered ongoing technical assistance during the construction phase. Chilean and foreign volunteers were in charge of most difficult repairs and of especially helping those families who could not build by themselves (elderly, sick, disabled). The community was actively involved. Each upgrading was discussed in detail by professionals and families, so they could all agree on the improvements that would be made. Direct involvement of household members in the construction process allowed them to acquire skills to further improve their homes in the next years. Cooperation among neighbors also was a good learning experience that strengthened community organization. Fr. Josse´s relatives and friends came to work on this project in March. The community gave them a warm welcome demonstrating their appreciation for the assistance delivered. After 4 decades of individual struggle to survive on their own, the support given is an incentive to collectively re-start the improvement of their settlement. The project is now completed. A closing ceremony will take place to celebrate with all actors involved that a new cycle has started in the Villa van der Rest.