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Alternative Peru travel for Semana Santa: Build a house in Lima

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Working together to build a better tomorrow.

For those of you that are not familiar with UTPMP, it is an organization that mobilizes youth volunteers to eradicate extreme poverty in Latin America. Un Techo para mi País works in association with Latin America’s most marginalized population constructing transitional homes and implementing social inclusion programs to empower slum residents with the tools to improve their quality of life.

The development model of UTPMP has three phases, the large-scale construction of transitional homes, social inclusion programs and finally sustainable communities. The construction of transitional houses seeks to solve the immediate problem of adequate housing in the slums. It also creates a bond of trust between the volunteers of Un Techo Para Mi País and the local residents which is vital for the success of the social inclusion programs.

After UTPMP constructs emergency homes in a slum, it builds a community center, which will be the base for the social inclusion programs. The community center serves as a meeting place for the local leaders and three volunteers, who will lead a participatory diagnostic of the situation in the slum and develop a plan to address the main concerns of the residents. The meetings seek to strengthen the community organization and empower the residents of the slum.

The inclusion program has the support of six plans that advise the local leaders and UTPMP volunteers in specific subjects. The plans are: education, health care, legal planning, micro credits, teaching basic job skills and urban planning. This is a very interesting piece of what UTPMP does because the people providing the services are all college student volunteers. For instance, engineer or architecture students would help with the technical aspectsnecessary to buildcontention walls. Law school students provide services to the residents to help prepare paperwork for any legal issues that may arise.

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UTPMP also finances small loans for residents that are willing and able to start their own business, but do not have the means. The business students travel to the communities weekly to help write a business plan and assist the people in beginning a successful business.

The final phase of the work of Un Techo Para Mi País is the sustainable community. The idea is that with the aid of the inclusion programs the slum residents will develop their own sustainable community with strong social capital, bonds between neighbors and links to external networks. UTPMP works with the objective of empowering slum residents and thus become unnecessary.

Raúl Benavides, Financing Director for UTPMP, had a very progressive outlook on volunteering and the impact it has on the participating college students. Raúl explained, "Un Techo Para Mi País creates consciousness in the younger generation to see the difference between the rich and poor." He believes the experience they have is changing the lives of the communities, but also changing the lives of the students themselves.

Sign-ups for the upcoming UTPMP construction run April 7-18 and the constructions are April 20-24th. In total, 78 houses will be built in 4 different locations. Approximately 600 volunteers will be needed to finish the building. The cost of the 4 days is 40 soles and includes transport, accommodations and meals.

Raúl spoke so highly of the volunteers that have assisted UTPMP with all of its accomplishments by saying, "I enjoy being with people that are not apathetic. These young people are acting and proving that poverty is not an impossible challenge to overcome because it is happening everyday with every construction that occurs." Now is a great time to become a part of this wonderful organization and the perfect time to help change someone’s life, or your own.

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