Our 3 months in Asia is over (!) and we’ve jumped from one crazy capital to another, with a whirlwind 48 stop-over in Spain (to get us in the Spanish-speaking mood, and to wash out clothes at families´ much-missed washing machines!)

And the whirlwind continued as we flew up to Colombia’s Caribean coast after a few days wandering around the spectacular capital city, Bogota.

Cartagena’s walled Old City is like a dream in bright technicolour: the houses, the fruit, the sea, even the people are all picture postcards that are all screaming to be photographed and there’s absolutely no risk you´ll be needing any Instagram filters on your snaps. Then there´s the food, the music and the best mojitos I´ve tasted. Ever. It´s a little bit of paradise that we’d been dreaming of ever since chilly, smelly Delhi!

cartagena

But, this colourful bubble seems almost too good to be true: the tourist traps (and prices!!) did start to grate on us after a couple of days. And so, as always, we started to wonder where the reality was. And where we could find a normally priced meal.

We found answers to both by getting in touch with an Organisation called Techo, a group I’d been aware of since I lived in Peru, but never had the chance to see their work first hand. Luckily for us, their very welcoming Director, Alex, offered to take us just a few minutes away from the tourist haven to see what they do. This video we put together should give you the gist (even if your Spanish isn’t up to much)….

Techo, meaning ´roof´ in Spanish, offer emergency housing to families living in dangerous accomodation in fringe communities all over South America. What we liked most about them is how thorough they are in choosing their recipients – the whole community has to agree on who needs a new house, that way there’s no risk of people receiving houses that perhaps have other places to stay elsewhere, and stops any jealousy within the neighbourhood. Techo will only go into a community that has asked for their support. Equally, families are required to pay 10% of the cost of the house and also need to help with the building process.

Alvaro and I saw two communities; a new area which had recently asked for Techo’s support and the neighbouring community where Techo is well estabilished and has built 33 homes.

casa-techo

These aren’t homes as we know them, but they are a great improvement from the previous structures that were housing families before Techo got involved. There´s no chance of wind ripping off the roof, rain getting inside or the houses being destroyed entirely which can often happen to poorly buit wooden structures. We met one family who´d had a house built by Techo. The oldest brother who helped with the construction now volunteers for the organisation, showing the benefit of well-built homes for other families in his community.

It was a really interesting day and gave us a lot of food for thought and we were happy to have been able to support Techo with a £75 donation from the money you helped us raise. Thank you!

Have you got a holiday lined up and fancy spending a few hours  at a local charity? Whereever you’re going, get in touch and we´ll find a project you´ll love!