Can You Imagine Your world without a home?
Housing in the developing countries
Housing in developing countries is often little more than a collection of trash and discarded materials that are cobbled together in an attempt to provide shelter. Hundreds of million (billions) live like this and most of us are not even aware how pervasive the problem is. We know that people in other countries are poor but did you know that the fastest growing neighborhood is the slum; growing at 25% per year
- 1.5 Billion live in self-made inadequate housing.
- Slums are doubling every 3 years.
- This means 100,000 new houses are needed EVERY DAY.
- A city to support 5 million people needs to be built every week.
Health and Welfare
Living in poverty exposes poor people to weather, bugs, heat, rampant bacteria, and diseases. This leads to sickness and a poor quality of life. Once sick, many people, especially children in poverty do not have access to medical services and all too often the outcome is fatal.
Shelter the World uses education about building houses as a tool to teach people living in poverty how a better home will protect the family from disease and sickness.
Poor housing leads to high insecurity.
A lockable door is a tremendous deterrent and provides security for women, children, and babies. Another of the larger problems in the word today, the abuse of women and children, can be reduced with durable housing. A prevalent problem in slums and third world countries where security is low. This includes disaster relief and IDP camps where tents are extensively used over hard sided shelters.
Making a donation to Shelter the World will enable the building of houses to protect women and children and add security and a sense of peace to their lives.
Believe it or not, searching for fuel for fires to cook and heat a home in third world countries consumes an incredible amount of time. Sleeping in the open or in inadequate structures means there is no insulation or way to keep the heat in the home. Having a well-built home that doesn’t need much fuel to heat frees up a tremendous amount of time to pursue important activities like educations and income generation.
Endless home repairs
You know the repairs you do to your own home. Imagine the time and effort required to repair a home you built from material found in the city dump. The repairs are endless and futile.
Your contribution to building houses helps provide a family with tools to build their own home and earn an income with the skills they develop through the process.
As strange as this might seem, these are the first “Tiny Houses” and the ultimate Affordable Housing!
Housing: it has been said that housing is more than likely to be the largest purchase anyone will make anywhere in the world. This includes people living in slums.
Many of us have worked or will work many years to “own” our home. Most feel all the work to pay the mortgage and insurance, do the repairs and upkeep, planting flowers, fixing the roof are all worth the effort. Especially when we get to relax in “our space”. A place where we invite friends and family to come in and enjoy some time together. Maybe we’ll celebrate an event like a birthday or wedding.
Chances are pretty high that if you are reading this, your selection of your perfect house design has been thought about for some time. The dream of owning the perfect home has captivated us, even excited us for a long time before we made the decision to purchase a house and make it your own home. We often look forward to the day when we can pick the one that matches closely to our dream. Not always being perfect of course, but just shopping for that new home is exciting and learning things about the house, like when it was built and by whom, who lived there, or falling in love with the type of house or a particular feature captivates us.
And after we’ve lived there a while we often say the house has character. It feels right, feels safe, it feels lived in and familiar.
Our homes and housing, in general, plays a crucial role in each of our lives. We dedicate so much time and effort and money to own and keep the place we live in, yet we rarely stop to think what is means to own this house. What I mean is we don’t consider what it on a larger scale. A global scale. How does it compare to the world at large? We don’t stop and think how blessed we are to have even that little charming place.
Now if you can somewhat relate to this description of a house, I want to let you in on a secret: you are part of a minority group in the world. You see, most people in our world do not own homes and about 1/3 of the world lives in poverty housing. Except poverty housing can barely be categorized a housing. It’s usually cobbled together stuff just to get out of the weather.
There is a silent housing crisis going on around the world. This global housing crisis just keeps getting larger each and every year. As I mentioned above, slum housing is growing and spreading at a rate of 5% per year. Let me say this another way: housing, poverty housing and especially slum housing is increasing so fast that a new city of 5 million people needs to be built each week just to keep the crisis at the current level.
Now, think again about your house or apartment. If you are feeling comfortable, and safe, then you are in a very special place. Now you may have read that I’ve been to some pretty hard places. Places like the city dump where whole communities have been built using nothing but the material found in the dump. Yeah, imagine that! I’ve also been to other troubled spots like Cité Soleil. Considered to be the worst, the most poverty stricken, the most violent city the western hemisphere where even the United Nations won’t go in, or disaster locations where the outlook for many is to live in a decaying tent for the next five years because nobody can afford to rebuild after a calamity.
Seeing these things has allowed me to realize just how blessed I am to live in the United States! Whenever I think back to those trips, I am reminded just how important my house is to me. I am also reminded just how thankful I am to have gained the wisdom to know that my privilege is not to be discarded and squandered. No, I believe that my experiences have unfolded and my eyes opened for just for this purpose. To shelter God’s creation. To be mindful of the privilege of helping families in poverty improve their lot in life.
Thus sprung from these trips is the nonprofit housing ministry called Shelter The World.
Interestingly, I just took about a 10-minute pause and traveled in my mind to many places I have visited. I recalled all the different types of houses I have stepped into. Most of these houses wouldn’t even qualify as a shed in someone’s backyard here in the U.S.A.
I remember the mom in a Latin American country who is living in the dump. Yes, I said IN the dump. She invited me into her home and treated me just like I would treat a friend or family member entering my home. She showed off her two-room shanty with cardboard walls, and where there was wood, there were gaping holes between each of the boards. The smell was a sweet, obnoxious scent, the floor was dirt, the fire pit was crusty and full of silt from years and years of use.
I would venture to say if you are like most people, you enjoy your house. Or at least have a room you like the best or a feature that just raises your heart a beat or two. It might be the way a window catches the light or a cozy bedroom with your favorite pictures or posters on the walls. Maybe it’s a chair you’ve had for years and is worn just right and feels really great.
Normally we don’t think too much about other people’s houses or the way they live; we just do our thing. But today is different. Today I am going to share with you a few things I’ve seen over the years and explain why I have come to believe helping people in poverty improve their living condition is the third most important thing for me to do while in this world.
On an ordinary day, most of us will probably go to school or work and afterward come home to settle in for the evening. We may look forward to watching a favorite television show, pop on a Netflix movie, relax in a hot tub, eat a nice meal, spend time with the kids and loved ones. Whatever we do, chances are we will generally enjoy most of it.
I recalled the house I lived in while in Brazil. You’ve probably seen the pictures of the slums in Brazil. They are called favelas. These slums are old, dank, dirty, and here too the smells are a sweet, obnoxious scent. Generations have continued to build, each a little higher up the side of the mountain then the previous. And in the end mountains of slum shacks carpet the hillsides.
Here though I did more than visit. I lived with a family while I was doing work with the United Nations. You may have heard about the Sustainable Development Goals the UN has been championing for years. That is all well and good, but they are not going to impact these people’s lives in any meaningful way.
I find it interesting that when I look at a picture of the favelas, I don’t see the real life. I see a nice array of colored houses going up a mountain side. But then I remember the toilet flushing from the house above and emptying into a gutter to discharge the waste along with every other house. I remember too when the electricity was out for days at a time and food spoiled and was thrown into the street. Or when the gravity water supply was unavailable for days because the pump just couldn’t suck up any more water. No water meant no showers and no clean dishes. There was no relief on the sticky body from the sticky air.
Or how about the villages way up in the mountains where it took days to hike trough steep paths and supplies were carried in on mules we led along the way. The different types of houses up there were even more unfamiliar. Things in those houses seemed very backward. Barn animals were kept in the house to protect them from theft, and the roofs were made of thatch. To manage the insects that infested the thatched roofs, smoke was created to fill the house and-and allowed to seep through the roof. The smoke was always thick and hard in the throat. Charlie was happy to have us stay in his house and sleep in his home, on the dirt floor.
These are harsh realities most of us will never have to contend with. Their lives are extremely hard, their housing extremely crude.
I have many more stories and a lot more details, but those will have to wait. For now, I wanted to let you know that I have been their first hand. I have seen what I talk about and share with you. The different houses each have their stories to tell and most are hard stories. Trials and tribulation harder than what most of us can imagine. The ways of life are characteristically defined by the poverty that surrounds them. And in the middle of it all, are the friends I have made.
The real people, the families! Men working in dumps to try and scrape together enough money to feed the family for today. Mom cooking in kitchens made of dirt, infested with insects, unable to ever be cleaned. And the children; the little ones that died just before my arrival due to parasites and were buried along the path to the house with crude handmade crosses to mark the spot of reference.
So then what are we to do. For me, I will work on something I know how to do. I will find ways to help people living in desperate situations. I may not be able to make as large of an impact as I might like but one thing for sure, with your help WE will be able to affect some lives in a significant way, possibly for generations.
As you may know, Shelter The World is a nonprofit housing ministry. We are not as famous as Habitat for Humanity, but or goals are similar. We are working to helping people in different ways. Habitat has chosen to work with people who can afford to invest time and money to maintain a home. We, on the other hand, are trying to work with people who have no chance of improvement unless someone gives a helping hand.
After considering all the ways that are available to impact a life I came to the conclusion that, through the grace of God, I can teach people the skills that will give them the opportunity to not only improve their living condition but one where the impact would affect their entire family and maybe community for generations.
Teaching people how to build houses is not an easy task. There are so many types of houses, so many cultural preferences and acceptable desires of what houses are that it is challenging to educate someone that they are killing themselves trying to protect themselves from bugs living in a thatch roof by filling the house with smoke to the point it is suffocating. That should never stop us from trying, though. I am up for the challenge. Will you join me?
Leaving things the way that they are is just not acceptable.
O.K. if you have read this far you are apparently interested in what we are doing.
This is where I make the invitation to you to join me on this journey. We have a lot going for us, and every contribution helps another family some way, some how. We may not always know right away what the best approach, might be but we have always figured things out.
We need a lot of things. Money is always in high demand, so contributions are always needed and welcomed. We also need volunteers to help rally behind the cause of helping people less fortunate than ourselves. Volunteers that will do simple things like working on the website, sharing our news, sharing and liking us on social media. All of these things make a difference, and the more people that know about us, the more we can do to help families build a solid foundation through housing and construction projects.
Here are some great and simple ways to help right now.
And just for the record. We are going deep into the slums. Deep into the despair and helplessness to have the greatest impact. I’ve been in corporate jets; I have traveled to exotic and unusual places like Monte Carlo and experienced firsthand the lavishness of the extremely wealthy. But when I count up the most satisfying things in life I am taken back to the places where people who seemingly have nothing have invited me into their homes.
Many slum houses in the third world are little more than a collection of trash and discarded material that are cobbled together in an attempt to provide shelter. Hundreds of million (billions) live like this, and most of us are not even aware how pervasive the problem is. We know that people in other countries are poor but did you know that the fastest growing neighborhood is the slum; growing at 25% per year
3 Billion People live on less than $2.00 per day.
1.5 Billion live in self-made slum housing. Slums are doubling every 3 years. The housing problem means 100,000 new houses are needed EVERY DAY and a city to support 5 million people is needed every week.
I know that describing the conditions that I care most about is very hard. Unless you have smelled the slum, slept in there, walked and talked there, stayed in a disaster-stricken location, watched in utter appalling dismay as cheap Walmart tents are distributed as shelter; then it is simply impossible to describe the level and fullness of the sensory overload that takes place in those environments.
Unlike other “good’ organizations I need to share something crucial. If you are planning to donate or volunteer in any way, then I want you to know this: People in poverty do not need or want our western houses. We should not be feeling sorry for these people to the point where we throw money at the situation in an attempt to say we’ve done something good when in reality we’ve actually hurt them.
No, the ones we want to help may not even know they need help. But we see things that we can help change to improve their lives and living condition in a positive way. If we work with people, we can guide them along a journey through love and care and not force something upon them that is not right.
Let me explain. Imagine a family living in a dump of a city of a million people. A city this size produces a lot of trash and the dump takes up vast areas. Enough area in fact to support life! Now let’s begin to feel sorry for them and select a few of them to receive a new house.
Whoa! We have just condemned this family to a future of grief and misery. First, the income the inhabitants produce will not be able to maintain the house so in a short amount of time the new house is reduced to the trash just like the trash that surrounds it. Secondly and maybe even more importantly, are the jealous neighbors. Yes even in the dump of despair people like to keep up with the Joneses. The difference is that the situation is so desperate for these people that they are willing to kill their neighbor and take over their house.
This is why we teach to a level of improving lives and guide the improvement process over time. In all reality, they will and do want more for their children, and they will use their new housing construction skills constructively to improve their lot in life.
Let’s go back to describing what it is like to live in poverty. Living in poverty exposes poor people to adverse weather conditions, insects and bug infestations, rampant bacteria, and diseases.
These conditions lead to sicknesses and a poor quality of life. Once sick, many people, especially children in poverty do not have access to medical services and all too often the outcome is fatal.
I recall a boy living in a village high up in the mountains. He got bit by an insect and in a few days the bite became an abscess. The sore turned into an infection and by the time, anyone could figure out what to do the infection had consumed his whole leg. His mother took him to a hospital ( 2 days journey) and ultimately he had to have his leg amputated. If you thought his life was hard before, imagine how difficult is would be now.
Look, I’m sharing all this with you to give you a small (very small) insight into what I know and experienced and have come to love. I want you to rip open your wallet and donate today, right now. Realize how blessed you are to have what you have.
I’m not asking you to provide welfare to someone you don’t even know. I am asking that you have compassion for someone less fortunate than yourself. Unlike in our richness, $100.00 or $1,000 will change lives for generations. Isn’t that worth donating to?
Let me share one more thing. Shelter the World uses education about building houses as a tool to teach people living in poverty how a better home will protect the family from disease and sickness.
It is a well-known fact that poor quality housing leads to high insecurity. A lockable door is a tremendous deterrent and provides security for women, children, and babies. Another of the larger problems in the word today, the abuse of women and children, can be reduced with durable housing. How? By reducing a woman’s dependency to provide housing for her children by prostituting in exchange for a dry bed for her kids. A real and prevalent problem in slums and third world countries where security is low. This even includes disaster relief and IDP camps where tents are extensively used over hard sided shelters.
Making a donation today to Shelter the World will enable us to teach people living in poverty how to build a safe, clean house that will protect women and children and add security and a sense of peace to their lives.
Did you know gathering up fuel or fires to cook and heat a home in third world countries consumes as much as 1/3 or a woman’s day? This is an incredible amount of time. Sleeping in the open or in inadequate structures means there is no insulation or way to keep the heat in the home. Having a better-built home that doesn’t need as much fuel to heat frees up a tremendous amount of time to engage in other important activities like educating the children or earning an income.
Endless home repairs. You know this problem all too well. The leaky faucet, the leaky roof, the broken door latch, the paint, the gutters, the cleaning; on and on the house chores never seem to stop. Well, be glad you don’t have to sweep dirt floors, or find more cardboard to add to the heap of material already substituting as a roof.
Your contribution to building houses helps provide a family with tools to build their own home and earn an income with the skills they develop through the process.
Join me; Let’s Shelter The World Together!