Since 2010, Deutsche Post DHL Group has collaborated in Latin America and the Caribbean with TECHO, a non-profit organization (NGO) made up mainly of student volunteers who work side by side with slum residents from over 400 settlements in the region. The Group provides financial support to TECHO and calls on Group employees to volunteer their time to help natural disaster victims rebuild homes and communities, and to engage in community projects aimed at social justice and overcoming poverty.
Founded in 1997, TECHO's mission is to help families living in slums to overcome poverty through community development projects. TECHO's volunteers work together with the families, collaborating on concrete projects and identifying potential solutions. One important element of TECHO's work is the construction of houses. TECHO is currently present in 19 countries and continues to grow.
In 2016, 394 DHL volunteers provided 5052 volunteer hours in their work with TECHO in ten countries. They built 20 emergency houses. Furthermore, DHL volunteers were actively engaging in community work, providing workshops in personal skills and employability training for youngsters. The successful initiatives from 16 countries successfully applied for funding from the Living Responsibility Fund in 2016 to ensure that they can continue to make a difference in 2017.
Deutsche Post DHL Group has partnered with TECHO since 2010. During a DHL Disaster Response Team (DRT) airport deployment in El Salvador in response to the 2009 flood disaster, DHL employees volunteered to build transitional houses for families who had lost their homes and possessions in the flood. This collaboration with TECHO eventually grew into a regional partnership.
By 2011, some 600 DHL employees were volunteering in community projects in 17 different countries. As of 2013 DHL collaborates with TECHO in all 19 countries in which TECHO is active.
At the end of April 2014, TECHO completed the 100,000th house built by TECHO volunteers together with slum residents. Deutsche Post DHL Group employees volunteered to take part in this effort in several different countries. DHL also supported the construction of the last 100 houses with a financial donation over 250,000 US dollars (185,000 euros).
Sandra from Brazil lives in one of the houses built by TECHO and DHL volunteers. "With this project, something completely new and different happened in our community," said Sandra. "We now have a house, and we have our dignity as human beings. We are protected from the rain and finally have a real address."
"Companies like DHL do the right thing when they devote some of their profits to supporting society. There are a great many people in need of this kind of support. I am very grateful for this gift; it is a wonderful gift."
TECHO relies a cooperation-based model in its fight against poverty in slum settlements. To improve living conditions in these communities, TECHO's youth volunteers work together with the families in need and develop appropriate solutions. TECHO believes that poverty can be defeated if the community as a whole can be mobilized.
TECHO's working model focuses on development from within the communities. TECHO volunteers work together with the young people in the communities. As a result, these young people take the fight against poverty into their own hands.
Organizational committees are also established in the communities to sponsor improvement initiatives. TECHO volunteers and slum residents then join forces to implement the initiatives. The long-term goal of these community development programs is to strengthen community spirit and citizen engagement, and to build relationships with other networks so that a larger support system is established.
One of the most urgent problems in Latin America and the Caribbean is the lack of housing. Many people are forced to live in simple shacks made of corrugated sheet metal. TECHO's answer to the shacks is to build inexpensive transitional houses out of wood, each with an area of some 18 square meters. The houses improve the living conditions for the families and their lives also become safer and more secure - a fact supported by resident statements as well as a scientific J-Pal study.
In addition to building transitional homes, TECHO coordinates numerous other projects in the various countries. The overarching goal of these projects is social inclusion and participation for all members of society, especially in the areas of education, health and economic development. For this, TECHO relies on an intervention model which seeks concrete solutions to poverty-related problems through close cooperation with slum residents.