The Ultimate Makeover Reveal

Recently, my mom shared the before photos of our latest international project – this one in Argentina.  I’m excited to share the “after” photos with you today.  To summarize, we did a remodeling project at an elementary school in a poor village near Buenos Aires.  We, along with a group of friends, worked for eight days from beginning to end.


Our biggest challenge was painting the exterior wall of the school.  Graffiti is very popular there, and most of the buildings are covered with it.


First, we had to spray wash the entire wall to remove the dirt and grime.  I was excited to use a power sprayer for the first time.


Then we had to prime the entire wall so that the writing wouldn’t bleed through.  So long, Juan.


On the fourth day, after cleaning and applying two coats of primer, we finally started painting.  The nuns, who are the school’s directors selected the powder blue.


We bought all of our supplies locally to help out their merchants, but I must say that some of our tools had a lot to be desired.  This roller felt as if I was painting with a scrub mop.


We painted till the very last hour of the last work day and completed all of the exterior walls and cleaned up the debris that had once littered the grassy area.


I have to tell you that the locals are quite proud of their graffiti.  One day an “artist” who had added his touch to the wall stopped by and yelled and yelled at us.  He was quite upset.  He was speaking in Spanish, but I have a feeling there were some four-letter words thrown into the mix.  My Rosetta Stone program didn’t teach me those phrases, so I’m just guessing.  The nuns eventually calmed him down, and he promised to guard the wall for a year.  Who knows what it will look like eventually.


Meanwhile, inside the compound the sand box went from this…


….to this.



The permanent playground residents liked their new sand lot, too.


The playground equipment was in need of a coat of paint when we arrived.


Every. Single. Piece. got a new and cheery paint job.  Doesn’t it look better?


We got a good start on the future lunch room/shower facility for the homeless children.  It looked like this when we arrived.


Although we didn’t finish, the group made some good progress on the brick laying.  The local laborers promised to finish the job.  Our brick crew worked in extremely high heat and humidity conditions with temperatures in the high 90’s each day.


About half of the interior doors were rusted because the hallways flooded during rain storms.  Our group painted all of the damaged doors, and my dad cleaned out the storm drains so the flooding would stop.


It’s always hard to say good-bye to the friends we make when we do these trips each year, but at least we know we have spread good will and have made a difference in someone’s life.  Next up, my parents are leading a group to Haiti in December to work in an orphanage for special needs children, and then it will be on to Myanmar (Burma) in March.  To read more about our builds, go here.


Linking to No Minimalist Here 


  1. Stacey says

    Wow! What a great project for your family and friends to do together. It’s kind of funny that there is such a cultural difference when it comes to graffitti. Hopefully, they will appreciate all the work you did and keep it nice for awhile….well, nice in our eyes. 🙂

    Keep us posted on your next project. What a great way to live!