Almost all families in the shanty town of Collique live in makeshift houses made of low cost or reclaimed materials. Many have straw or cardboard walls with a roof formed by sheets of plastic, cardboard, or scrap materials scavenged from the surrounding area. The families, especially the children, suffer from exposure to the elements, a lack of privacy and generally unhealthy conditions aggravated by the lack of sanitation facilities and dirt floors.
Beginning in the summer of 2007 a dwelling improvement program was initiated by youth and adult volunteers from South Main Baptist Church working with Operación San Andrés. In this first effort a roof was put on a community worship building and a family shelter was reinforced and roofed. Subsequently in April, 2008 volunteers, including the new OSA-House resident missionary and two local workers, built a two room structure with ply board walls and a vinyl corrugated roof that allowed a family to move out of a severely leaning/collapsing shanty into a much more substantial and secure dwelling. A second project put a vinyl corrugated roof on a topless house after the supporting framing was repaired and reinforced. On this second project a family member actively assisted with the building and an overjoyed and thankful mother prepared two meals for the workers and some neighbors in a show of appreciation.
The selection of families for the family shelter assistance is accomplished with the assistance of community members, OSA staff and the social worker who works in the community. There is a great need for continued intervention in this area.