Casita de Barro was inspired by our work with Mexican migrants in the United States of America. Our experiences there made us decide to concentrate on the origin of the migration phenomen. This decision took us in 2008 to San Jerónimo Tecuanipan, a rural village at the foot of the volcano Popocatépetl with two million of inhabitants and an educational level that equals that of the sixth year of primary school, and where six out of ten families have at least one member of their family living in the United States.
Unlike other social programs, which tend to be paternalistic, we have opted to not start any project without first knowing the rhythm and nature of the village that hosts us. We built our own little adobe house in the local, traditional style and started to explore ways of sustainable and simple living. Soon after our arrival, the people of Tecuanipan started calling us Casita de Barro (little adobe house), a name we embraced because it represents our aspiration to become a place that demonstrates sustainable living techniques. We want to invite the local families to apply simple and ecological techniques that revalue de local traditional knowledge, and help create a higher life quality. We are convinced that sustainability can be an instrument for social justice.
The region of Tecuanipan is classified far below the national poverty line, and even below the extreme poverty line (CONevAL, 2010). That is why we propose permaculture as a practical way to better life quality. Producing and consuming their own crops, and revaluing local farming techniques gives the families of Tecuanipan more autonomy and augments food security.
NICANCALLI, EVERYONE’S HOME
In 2009 it became clear that the youngsters of Tecuanipan needed some kind of educational support. It was a young boy who first came to ask for our help with a school task. The boy was fifteen years old and was taking classes in the sixth year of primary school, but he could only read and write at the level of the first year of primary school. This event opened our eyes for the enormous gap there is between the low level of education in this rural area and the quality that one can get in the city or private schools.
This is the reason we started with our tutoring program in 2010. In the beginning, this program was supported by Enlances Comunitarios Internacionales, a Mexican non-profit organization. With the financial help of our solidarity network in Belgium, and with a lot of voluntary workers, we were able to build the first part of our school. The families of Tecuanipan call this school NicanCalli, which is a contraction of the Aztec words nican (here) and calli (house). Up to today, our program has helped more than one hundred students, who developed diverse abilities that better their school work.
The school building itself also is a demonstration of ecological building techniques. Parents who drop off or pick up their children get an idea of the possibilities within ecological building. Moreover, a lot of these parents have helped constructing the school. This way, NicanCalli is an invitation to the families to apply and improve ecological building techniques. NicanCalli has grown a lot if the past years, but there is always room for improvement. Do you want to help us to reach even more youngsters and their families? Your donation is very welcome.