As we take a breath after the months of work on what was a very successful Christmas Party for the children, we now turn our attention to a serious issue in need of immediate attention. The houses etc, at Westfalia were constructed more than 20 years ago. Over that period of time they have not only taken a beating as a result of housing a lot of rambunctious children, but they have also fallen afoul of newer regulations enforced by various government ministries. The casas that house the children were originally built with two bathrooms each with one toilet, one sink and one shower. Each casa houses as many as 15 people. You can see the impracticality of that bathroom arrangement, particularly with children needing to get ready for school every morning. Clearly this was one upgrade not only needed, but required by Defense Civil. Renovations of the kitchens in each casa are required as well. You can see one of the old bathrooms, still in use, in the photo below, and one of the kitchens below that.
They have managed to renovate a few of the casas with new bathrooms that have at least doubled the capacity. Casa 2 is currently unused because the renovations came to a halt when Defense Civil (the previously mentioned government ministry) told them that they had to install concrete security zones (round concrete pads) in front of every building, as a gathering place in the event of an emergency, earthquake and such. They also included a list of other required changes which necessitated using their minimal renovation funds to satisfy those new requirements.
If this were not a big enough problem, yet another government ministry has inspected and indicated that, in spite of the fact that they have no disabled residents, have never had any disabled residents and never plan to have any, they must install wheelchair ramps on every building (that would be about 9 to 11 buildings) and that they must include a bathroom stall suitable for wheelchair use, in each casa, complete with grab bars etc.
Westfalia, not being a government funded or sponsored orphanage, is only able to facilitate renovations through private donations. The donations for completion of casa 2 had to be diverted to satisfying Defense Civil in construction of the secure zones and other security requirements. Therefore, casa 2 has been sitting for more than 6 months, partially renovated and unable to house any children. We intend to solve this problem. We currently have a portion of the required funds, thanks to a kind donation on the part of someone on British Expats. The photos below show some of the work remaining to be finished, primarily completing the installation of floor tiles and then installing the fixtures. Two bedrooms and one bathroom as well as about half of the common area have been tiled. What remains is the third bedroom, second bathroom, remainder of the common area, kitchen and the large laundry area where the children wash their clothes by hand. We need help. Whatever you donation you can make will make a difference.
As for the other issues regarding ramps and handicapped bathroom stalls, we hope to establish a longer term project to raise funds to assist in meeting those requirements. There will be others attempting to do their part as well. The more of us that make the effort, the sooner the changes can be made and the sooner Westfalia will be able to make use of every casa and the sooner their permit for the orphanage will not be at risk of being revoked or their allowed capacity downgraded. We do not want to see any of these children transferred to another orphanage because of a shortage of space due to inability to meet the deadline for completing these required renovations and satisfying the government ministries. This is their home, their family. We will not let it be torn apart. Chipin has, unfortunately, been sold and the site has been shut down as of March 10. If you wish to help, please use the donation button on the “And you can help” page.