Changing Lives One Home at a Time

Casita Linda’s Mission

“Casita Linda goes beyond building houses for the poor. It’s about rebuilding lives.”

On an unusually cold, cloudy, and grey morning in San Miguel de Allende, we threw on some old warm clothes, rounded up the kids, and set off to paint a house in the middle of the countryside for a deserving family. I know I’m usually writing about ways to help people relocate to Mexico or how to choose and secure your dream in San Miguel, but after recently volunteering with the CDR San Miguel | Forbes Global Properties team for Casita Linda, I felt compelled to share our experience with you all.

This is the story of Perla, Juan Gerado, and their little son, Iván.

A Safe and Secure Forever Home

Iván, Perla and Juan Gerado's 2-year-old son

Perla wanted nothing more than to provide a safe, stable home for her son, 2-year-old Iván. Now that Casita Linda has just added the finishing touches to their new 3-bedroom home, her dream is finally coming true.

“We’re so happy. Now I have a safe and stable home for my son to grow up in—we even have a bathroom!” Perla says, unable to hide the excitement behind her big smile.

Their new home, built by the incredible team of volunteers at Casita Linda San Miguel de Allende, represents a bright and promising future for Perla, Juan Gerado, and Iván, making their distant dream a tangible reality.

A Glimpse into the Past: The Struggles of the Ramírez Family

Before the intervention of Casita Linda, the daily lives of Perla González Ramírez (20), Juan Gerardo Ramírez Morales (27), and their son Iván Ramírez González (2) were a true testament to resilience. Their single room, a small chamber made of adobe with asbestos sheets, was their entire world. A room with no windows, no lock, and no ventilation; every breath they took was mixed with the smoke from the wood stove they cooked on.

Safety was a constant concern for the young family. Not only was the smoke from the wood stove suffocating, but the close proximity of their room to the kitchen also posed a fire risk. And with construction materials like carrizo (reed), wood, plastic, and fabric, any unforeseen accident could have been catastrophic.

Perla standing outside her old 'house' (the door on the left)

Nights were the hardest. With just one mattress placed over improvised plastic boxes that served as a makeshift bed frame, the three would huddle together, trying to find comfort in each other’s warmth. This room, part of Juan Gerado’s grandmother’s house, was built over 30 years ago by his grandfather. With Gerardo working as a mason helper and Perla tending to their home, their small family was faced with daily challenges and struggled to make ends meet.

Working Together to Create a Dream Home

Volunteers from CDR San Miguel | Forbes Global Properties and their families all working together

When Perla and Juan Gerado saw that Casita Linda San Miguel built a house for one of their neighbors in the rural community, it was the beacon of hope the family desperately needed. Perla went along to the Casita Linda community meetings and applied to be considered for housing. Once the nonprofit’s social worker, Magdalena Perez, visited, interviewed them, and saw their home, she realized that they were living in precarious conditions and qualified as a family in dire need of help. The collaborative process of building the home involved Juan Gerado and Perla, countless volunteers, dedicated workers, and, of course, the passionate team behind Casita Linda.

Peace at Last

“This home is our safe place, especially for Iván. I’m happy that he won’t be playing in the dust anymore and not get sick all the time” says Perla. 

Their new home isn’t just about the bricks and mortar; it signifies a fresh start, a chance at a life filled with hope, safety, and comfort.

 

The González Ramírez family taking a quick lunch break in front of their new home

A Closer Look at the Homes

Every Casita Linda house is about 600 ft2 with three bedrooms, ensuring privacy for family members. Building these houses costs roughly $17,000 US each and are furnished with pieces crafted by students from a local deaf school, adding warmth and utility. Casita Linda collaborates with Caminos de Agua for water systems and employs eco-friendly ‘Lego’ blocks from Puebla, reducing water use by up to 70%.

Louise Gilliam, Casita Linda’s Board of Directors’ president, notes, “Building four houses at once with our crew from Puebla is both quick and sustainable, taking about six weeks per house.” Highlighting the organization’s aim of empowering women, she adds, “We often ensure the house deeds are given to the women for their security,” hinting at the challenges some women face if their husbands decide to leave.

Before
After

The Rigorous Selection Process: Ensuring Deserving Beneficiaries

Choosing the families who will receive these homes isn’t a simple task. Casita Linda’s rigorous selection process ensures every house goes to truly deserving families.

“It’s predominantly a word-of-mouth process,” says Gabriela Rodríguez Granados, Casita Linda’s Executive Director. “Interested families undergo thorough vetting, fill out lots of paperwork, and most importantly, they need to attend workshops for nine months, twice a week. We don’t just hand them a house. Sticking to these workshops is a way to prove just how dedicated they are.”

 

The workshops, also run by Magdalena, are a cornerstone of Casita Linda’s initiative. They began years ago and have significantly evolved over time. Gabriela continues, “Our primary goal is to provide foundational knowledge. Topics span from sex education, birth control, and family planning to nutrition and hygiene. It’s an effective approach to empowering them with life’s basics. Once they move into their new home, the dramatic increase in self-esteem is astounding to watch.”

Witnessing the change is undeniably rewarding. Gabriela says, “Seeing families finally have a secure home, with windows to keep out insects and doors that lock, ensuring their kids are safe, and noting the obvious improvement in their health… It’s genuinely incredible.”

How Can You Help? Make a Real Difference with Casita Linda

The transformational stories stemming from the dedicated work of Casita Linda in San Miguel de Allende are both touching and inspirational. But the truth is, every brick laid, every home built, and every life changed is a result of collective efforts. And there’s a place for everyone on this mission. If you’ve been moved by the impact stories and the change Casita Linda brings about, here’s how you can contribute.

1. Financial Donations to Casita Linda

Every donation, no matter how small, makes a difference. Your financial contributions go directly towards building houses, providing essential workshops, and offering other support services to the most vulnerable families.

Donate Now to Casita Linda

2. Create a Homeless Care Package

While monetary donations help fund the broader initiatives of Casita Linda, personal contributions also make a great impact. One way to directly help those in need is by creating a care package for those in dire living circumstances.

Here’s a simple guide to get you started:

  • Basic Hygiene Items: Toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, sanitary pads, and deodorants
  • Non-perishable Food Items: Granola bars, canned goods (with pull-tab openings), bottled water
  • Warm Clothing: Gloves, socks, hats, scarves, and blankets especially during the colder months.
  • Toys/Stationary: New toys or second hand (in good condition) for the children – my kids always fill up a box of toys they’ve outgrown to make space for anything new they’ll receive.
  • Useful Tools: Flashlights, batteries, and a small first-aid kit.
  • Personal Touch: A handwritten note or card to let them know someone cares.

3. Volunteer with Casita Linda

Lend your time, skills, and passion to the mission of Casita Linda San Miguel de Allende. Whether it’s assisting in the actual house-building process, painting, conducting workshops, or taking on administrative tasks, there’s always a need for dedicated volunteers. 

For more information about volunteering contact:

Tel: +52 415 152 0271

Email: info@casitalinda.org

4. Spread the Word

Awareness is a powerful tool. Share the stories of change, the mission of Casita Linda, and the ways to help on your social media platforms, blogs, or among your circles. The more people know, the larger the community supporting building houses for the poor becomes.

Last Thoughts

Remember, every gesture counts. Whether you’re contributing financially, volunteering your time, or simply sharing the mission of Casita Linda, you’re playing a vital role in transforming lives. Erick, my children, and I are so grateful to be a part of this process to help vulnerable families like Perla, Juan Gerado, and Iván have a home, hope, and a brighter future.

And if you’re interested in learning more about giving back in San Miguel de Allende, as well as useful tips, advice about living in San Miguel, and viewing our incredible listings please subscribe to our newsletter list now.