Archive for August, 2013

Peru House Project – August 5, 2013

Jon Ross on Aug 5th 2013



All in the Family (part 2)

Our beneficiary family: the Ormachea-Hermozas.  There are twelve who live on the site and dozens of others who will benefit from the home we are building.

The patriarchs, Juana and Valerio got married and set out on a life together.

Valerio was a long-distance truck driver and spent a lot of time away from home. As his young family grew, he eventually saved enough money to build an adobe home (mud bricks) on the banks of the Urubamba river in the poor but happy community of Paca Vilconota on the east end of the town of Urubamba in the Sacred Valley.

As some their daughters married and had kids of their own, and one of their sons married a woman who was visually impaired and, unfortunately, their kids inherited the genetic defect.

granddaughter angela inherited a visual impairment

Valerio got older, which made it hard for him get jobs driving long distances.

valerio helping with the construction

He struggled to find other work, but still supported the clan.  In 2010, the ultimate tragedy struck: the Urubamba River turned into a flooding, ragging torrent that decimated their small community.

All the houses that were made of adobe were destroyed—melted and washed away—including Valerio and Juana’s.  The family of twelve was without a home.  No international organizations rushed in to help (one NGO director told me it was too hard to get materials “up there”), although US-AID donated some tarps.  There was no way the family would ever be able to rebuild, so Valerio and his sons salvaged what materials they could from their ruined home, and other detritus that the river left behind, and built some makeshift sheds and tents.

When I visited in 2012 that was still how they were living.

after we cleared the site of the tents and shacks

In the places MicroAid works, there is no FEMA, no Red Cross, no Habitat for Humanity, no insurance, no other safety nets—no hope.  For Valerio and Juana, MicroAid was the answer to their prayers.

microaid house for the ormachea-hermozas almost done

I am happy we found this family, out of the thousands that needed help.  They are honest and hardworking and have had more than their share of hardships.  MicroAid, supported by our wonderful donors, has returned Juana and Valerio’s family to some comfort, dignity, security, and a relief from the constant stress of living in squalor.

Filed in Peru Projects | Comments Off on Peru House Project – August 5, 2013

Peru House Project – July 22, 2013

Jon Ross on Aug 1st 2013




Country Road Take Me Home

Back at work in the Peruvian mountains in Urubamba in the Sacred Valley.  Feeling healthy, and positive about the project.  In the home stretch, now; less than four weeks, and counting.

wooden forms removed after three weeks

Still freezing cold winter in the Andes, but I moved from my drafty apartment to a nearby hostel, where I now have a comfortable bed, hot water, and relatively good Wi-Fi.  It’s a bit more expensive—about three dollars and fifty cents per day.  Apologies to the MicroAid board members. :0)

dolly llama

I really needed the three-week break.  My time with my friends in Mancora and then visiting Lake Titicaca helped recharge the batteries—literally rest my body and mind, and gain some weight back.  I’m happy to say, too, that I am parasite-free.

I will be uploading more pictures and a bio of the beneficiary family soon.

This house will be life-changing for them, as this experience has been for me.

More from the Sacred Valley later.

Filed in Peru Projects | Comments Off on Peru House Project – July 22, 2013

Peru House Project – July 1, 2013

Jon Ross on Aug 1st 2013




All in the Family

I know I have written mostly about the post-disaster home construction and posted pictures of foundations, columns, and rebar, but I want to emphasize the most important aspect of the MicroAid philosophy: direct involvement with the beneficiary family.  Besides overseeing all aspects of the project until completion, I personally meet the people we help and assess their need and pre-disaster baseline.  They in turn, help with the project.

The Ormachea-Hermoza family (12 in the immediate family live on the site; dozens more will benefit from the house) was one of thousands that lost their home in the floods of 2010, but it was their particular plight that compelled us to build them a new home.  I will post a detailed profile on the blog of this wonderful family soon.

That being said, the second floor/roof concrete pour went very well.  The ceiling beams are now setting up (drying) in their wooden forms—this takes about three weeks.

It was a busy last day, before the break: the cement, sand, and gravel spinning in the mixer as a dozen teenage boys lined-up to get last-minute instructions on how to carry the heavy, wobbly buckets on their shoulder up the rickety ladder to the second floor where they would pour them into the wooden channels then hurry down again… and again… and again.

This went on all day and into twilight, as the mountains surrounding the valley worksite became black silhouettes and the glittering stars came out to shine on the finished second level/roof.

As the exhausted crew enjoyed a huge meal, prepared all-day by the women—pork, potatoes, spaghetti, and cerveza…lots of cerveza—I was led up the ladder where I ceremoniously smashed a bottle of champagne to commemorate the completion of the first and most difficult stage of construction.  The bubbly liquid soaked both my boots which lent an extra chill to the already freezing night.

jon bundled-up against the southern hemisphere winter at 12,000 feet

But nothing could cool the warm feeling of having completed stage-one, the most difficult part, of the Ormachea-Hermoza’s new home.

Now, while visiting friends in the coastal town of Mancora (while the concrete dries) I am thinking about stage-two: doors and windows, and floor, which we should finish by mid-August.

poured concrete - 3 weeks to dry

This is the longest MicroAid project to date, and definitely the biggest home-construction, but I am happy to say that it is going well…

Thank you for your support in helping survivors of disasters the MicroAid way: directly, efficiently, and completely.

Filed in Peru Projects | Comments Off on Peru House Project – July 1, 2013