A Family Displaced By War No More – UPDATE
As you already know Joel, Francisco and I have started a project to help our friends the Perez family this December. Read the full story here: http://medellinbuzz.com/the-perez-family-displaced-by-war-in-colombia/.
Initially the plan was to gather donations to make their Christmas great. But as we got to know them this turned into more than just an act of charity, but a leap of faith to help our new found friends change their lives completely.
The Perez family have been displaced by the Colombian internal conflict for more than 10 years now. With no support from the government they were living in a one room hotel room in the most drug and crime infested part of downtown Medellin.
The family of four is resilient and very hard working. They would work the streets of Medellin collecting recyclable material and taking it to recycling centers for money. Walter, the father is very intelligent, and whenever he had extra cash he would buy recyclable material from other people working the streets (at a discount) and would make money when he’d sell it to the recycling center.
Upon learning about their entrepreneurial mentality and relentless work ethic we decided that we didn’t need to give them things for Christmas, that what we needed to do was to help them establish their recycling business.
Thanks to all of your donations this is what we’ve done:
November 8, 2016 – We shot the footage for the video you see above. Watch it on YouTube.
November 11, 2016 – Joel bought some tools at Home Center, that will make their job easier.
November 15, 2016 – We met with the family, Walter told me about a house with a large patio that can double as a storage facility for all their recycling material.
November 18, 2016 – Joel and I met Martha and Walter at the Chamber of Commerce in downtown Medellin and helped them register their business name WM Reciclo.
November 21, 2016 – Joel and I met with Martha and Walter back at the Chamber of Commerce in downtown to pick up their official paperwork. We have an official business name and tax ID number!
November 22, 2016 – I met with Walter and gave him $190,000 to get up to date with his motel room payments.
November 25, 2016 – Joel met with the family at Bancolombia and helped them get their first ever bank account open.
November 28, 2016 – With the help of your donations we were able to deposit $1,700,000 into their bank account to show the rental agency that they had enough money to cover the first 2 month’s rent. They were accepted and got the keys to their new place!
December 1, 2016 – With the help of your donations we were able to put another $1,500,000 in their bank account which will be used to boost their recycling business by buying two weights and cash to purchase recycled material at a discount in order to resell it.
December 7, 2016 – With the help of your donations we were able to buy 2 scales for their WM Reciclo business. One of the scales in s a big one to weigh tons at home. The second scale is portable one that Walter can take with him on his push cart. He’s now able buy recyclable material from people on the street. He couldn’t before because he had no way to weight it.
December 10, 2016 – I have a queen size bed frame that I have in storage. I’ll be delivering it to their new house today.
December 12, 2016 – Our friend Cata drove us to their new place and we were impressed and overwhelmed.
December 23, 2016 – Thanks to your donations we were able to buy the whole family Christmas presents.
December 24, 2016 – We went to their new house and delivered the Christmas presents and ate natilla. They couldn’t wait till 12:00 pm to open presents, so we opened them at 10:00 pm.
January 2, 2017 – Thanks to one of your donations Joan and Jason got new Nike tennis shoes. They were VERY happy!
Thanks to your donations they were able to get into a 6 room house downtown that serves as their home and their business location.
When you enter, the first thing you see is a desk and a scale.
People with recyclable material come in and sell their material to Walter and Martha. This scale is imperative for the business.
At the entrance you also see a hand made sign with the prices they pay out for various materials.
I also noticed two teenagers helping take in new material at the front. I asked Walter who they were and he said that they lived across the street. That they came to him asking for food, so he gave them a job.
He said that he didn’t know what to pay them, that they go back to school in January, so for now he was just giving them food every day. I told him to pay them the minimum salary. It’s only for one month and won’t break his bank.
I also told him that I was proud of him for hiring them and giving them an opportunity to work.
I talked to the two teenagers and they are smart. The boy told me that Walter has a computer that someone donated, that if we put together an excel spreadsheet he can help them learn how to use it to track sales. Joel and I are working on this now.
The first room after the entrance is a bedroom. This is Walter and Martha’s room. Right now their mattress is on the floor, but don’t worry we’ll get them a proper mattress as more donations come in.
The second room is the kitchen. Thanks to your donations we were able to help them buy a propane gas tank to hook up to their stove.
The next room is the kids room. Right now Joan Sebastian (15) and Jason David (13) share a bed. Our goal is to get them another one with future donations.
In the hall you see another scale. This one’s smaller and it’s portable. This is the scale that Walter takes with him when he goes out to collect material on his own. Not only can he weigh his own material as he picks it up, but others collecting material can sell right to him. The scale costs $300,000 and thanks to your donations we were able purchase it and boost their business.
All other rooms and spaces in the house are used for storage. Each room has a specific type of material it stores. The more material they an store, the higher the payout when they sell it directly to the recycling company.
This is the plastic storage room. In this picture you can see little Jason working with John (John’s the guy that cosigned for the house and their business partner.) Plastic and cardboard is what they collect the most, again, the more they store, the bigger the payout.
Imagine just a few weeks ago the family looked like the picture above.
Now the family looks like this:
Thanks to all of your donations we’ve been able to change their lives forever. Not only that, but they’re turning around and helping people in their community.
This is just the beginning
This is just the start. Their first bulk sale to the recycling company will be on Friday. I will update you with profit and loss statements.
How you can help
Furniture – If you’ve got any furniture you’d like to donate please message me.
Clothes – Joan Sebastian is 15 and is size M. He’s 1.75 cm tall and is a size 44 in shoes. Jason David is 13 and is a size S and size 39 in shoes.
Toys – Both boys like soccer and love to listen to bachata music, Romeo Santos is their favorite. They are both going to be starting school in January.
Donations through PayPal
If you’d like to donate via PayPal please click on the button below.
Thank you very much for all your support. We will keep helping the Perez family and will update you on their progress. The best is yet to come!