March 13, 2012
Habitat for Humanity Argentina’s Seed House model is a promising addition to the organization’s Developing Neighborhoods project. New homes and hope are sprouting in La Matanza and Santa Fe.
A Global Village team from Australia helped Miguelina put the colorful finishing touches on her new seed house.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (March 13, 2012) – Although the “Casa Semilla”, or seed house, model is still only a couple of years old, it has become a promising addition to Habitat for Humanity Argentina’s  Developing Neighborhoods project. There are now completed seed houses in La Matanza and Santa Fe, and construction on the next set of houses began during the second half of 2011.
With a seed house, families receive a larger loan than they would for an incremental improvement, as well as training throughout the construction process. With these funds and the help of volunteers, Habitat architects and technical consultants, they build a sound structure with a functioning indoor kitchen-living room area, bathroom and one bedroom. Through this solution, they create a protective, healthy and solid foundation for their family, with the proper infrastructure in place, and they acquire the necessary skills to eventually expand the house.
Last September, Habitat Argentina held a weeklong construction event called “Semillas de Esperanza” (Seeds of Hope) in the community of 22 de Enero in La Matanza, Buenos Aires. Throughout the week, volunteers helped build three seed houses in partnership with families living in precarious structures. All the families are led by single mothers living in extreme poverty under especially difficult conditions, who yearn to ensure a better life for their children. The houses begun that week are now in the final stages of completion, thanks to the dedication and hard work of the supervising architect, Carlos, the families and volunteers.
The construction process on another seed house in 22 de Enero is also progressing. With the help of volunteer work teams and thanks to their high capacity for auto-construction, future homeowners Laura and Daniel are already into the second stage of construction after just a little over one month.
Four additional seed houses in Santa Fe are coming together, brick by brick. The Pereyra Paselli family has almost completed stage two, having raised the walls and installed pipes for the bathroom plumbing. Once their work has been assessed and certified, they can begin stage three with the newly delivered materials. In addition, a volunteer work team made up of Habitat Argentina employees, local volunteers, neighbors, other partner families and members of the civil association Rayo de Luz recently joined Habitat’s technical consultant in visiting and helping out with construction tasks at two of the seed houses.
One of these, Nestor and Maria’s house in the city of Recreo, Santa Fe, is nearly complete. Nestor had learned of Habitat through a coworker at the factory where he works. His friend had been involved in Habitat’s “Rise Up and Build” project. Nestor and Maria have worked very hard over the last year, struggling with the rising costs of inflation and handling much of the construction on their own.
They are very grateful to have received multiple Global Village  volunteer work teams to help them with their house, and appreciate the opportunity for cultural exchange. Although, says Nestor, it was challenging to oversee such a large group of foreign volunteers, he also understood its importance—particularly in demonstrating why the houses are built in a certain way in Argentina, compared to how houses are built in the U.S. He was also duly impressed by how the male and female volunteers worked in equal roles. The couple was able to complete construction projects that, without the help of the brigades, would have required Nestor to contract workers.
“It was a lovely experience because even without knowing the language, we understood each other,” said Maria. “There was nothing missing from our dialogue.”
“I really admire [the volunteers] because they came from so far away without receiving anything in return,” concluded Nestor. “From this I learned how wonderful it feels to help another without any expectations, without receiving anything in exchange.”
The couple plans to move in by the end of the month, and is very happy to no longer have to rent and to finally have a place to call home.
About Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity International is a global Christian nongovernmental housing organization that brings together people of all races, nationalities and religions to build homes, communities and hope. Since 1976, Habitat has served more than 500,000 families by building and improving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions.
Learn more about Habitat for Humanity in Latin America and the Caribbean.