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Giving back Designers Help Fight Poverty in Medellin By Mary Ann DeSantis The heat was blistering and the work was hard, but nine South Floridians who traveled to Medellin, Colombia, in early May to build homes for families living in extreme poverty are eager to return. “We worked like never before. We loved and we cried,” says Pepe Calderin, one of the designers who participated in the DESIGN TECHO program. “The people welcomed us, and we were grateful for the experience… one that proved rewarding enough for us to want to go back for more.” TECHO is a non-profit organization present in 19 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that, through the joint work of families living in extreme poverty and youth volunteers, aims to overcome poverty in slums. More than 500,000 volunteers have mobilized all over Latin America. The DESIGN TECHO initiative was created to invite designers to build transitional houses in Medellin. Each designer had to raise $4,000 to build houses for two families. A designer and his team built one home, while TECHO youth volunteers built the other one. Additional funds were raised at an event graciously hosted by Claudio Faria from Ornare in the Design District prior to the group’s departure for Colombia. Traveling with Pepe were his wife Carolina Lizarazo, Juliana Diaz- Salazar from Pepe Calderin Design, Shannon Scott and Raymond Jimenez, both from RS3 Innovative and Architectural Design, Gary Rubinstein and Jawn Marques, both from Gary Rubinstein Antiques, Hector Arellano from HA Style for Living, and Sam Azar from CP Developers. The group was in Medellin May 2-6. “We donated 10 homes, and while we were there, five were built in one weekend,” explains Juliana, a TECHO volunteer for two years and a designer with Pepe Calderin who initially told him about the program. “Our teams had great chemistry, and it was as fun as dancing no matter how much heat or rain we encountered,” says Pepe. “I fell in love with the idea of not only donating money but also using my time and hands and immersing myself from the bottom up.” Next year, Pepe and his group hope to build DESIGN TECHO homes in Mexico. “It’s my intention to continue building and helping as long as my body will allow it,” he says. “That’s how great the experience was.” For more information, visit www.pepecalderindesign.com or www.techo.org. 96 july/august 2013 southfloridaluxuryguide.com


SFLuxury_July-Aug2013
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