Shangrilá Community Project

For: Telma Marlene Larossa
Ciudad de la Costa, Canelones, Uruguay
Organizer: Wayne Ready
Shangrilá Community Project (Telma Marlene Larossa)
of $7,000 goal
56% Complete
Raised by 28 donors

The Story

Each year my wife and I host a Christmas garden party in our backyard. Three years ago we decided to invite our guests to donate a bag of dog food to be given to an individual or organization that cares for dogs rescued from a desperate life on the street. We asked Dra. Mariana Amoedo, a good friend and well-known veterinarian in our area, to suggest someone in need who could use the food.

She suggested a couple named Marlene y Carlitos who at the time were sheltering over 70 homeless dogs at their private residence in Shangrilá, Cuidad de la Costa and who were struggling to feed them all with their meagre income supplemented by small donations from concerned friends and neighbours.

For the first two years our Christmas donations were given to Mariana to pass along to their animal sanctuary, but this year, we decided to accompany Mariana in order to meet them.

We knew Marlene and her husband were in their seventies and living on limited resources; but, we were not prepared for the desperate state of their home and yard.

They built their house forty years ago when both were young, healthy and employed. But a severe motorbike accident left Carlitos unable to do more than stand and walk a few steps with a walker. Unable to properly maintain their home over the years, it has gradually fallen into a desperate state of disrepair.

At present, they only have an outside cold water tap, their bathroom is no longer usable — sink, toilet, and shower are not connected — and the roof leaks over Carlitos’s bed. Because many of the rafters have rotted out much of their roof has either blown off, collapsed into parts of the living quarters or is leaking and is in need of major repair. They have a piece of plywood for a door, and there is no glass in most of the window openings making it very cold in winter, although the temperature in Uruguay rarely goes below freezing. Rain has destroyed or damaged the bulk of their possessions. In short, their house is barely habitable.

However, Marlene and Carlitos still find the compassion to care for many dogs and much of their meagre income of less than $400/month USD is spent on their dogs whom they regard as their children. Marlene adds a few dollars whenever she can with housecleaning jobs, but she also walks with a cane and has health problems including diabetes.


Our goal is to make essential repairs to the house by fixing the leaking roof, giving them a working bathroom that Carlos can use safely, by adding proper doors and windows and by installing floor tile as the floor in some areas of the house are just dirt. Once the house is secure, we hope to get some second-hand furniture so they can once again live with a little dignity.

The grounds of the property also need to be cleaned up. Over the years they have been given a number of used appliances and cars, which are no longer working and are now rusted out hulks littering their property. We have already started cleaning up the yard with the help of enthusiastic volunteers who are removing the junk, salvaging what they can and burning the debris.

After the clean-up and demolition, we will need funds to buy supplies in order to begin repairs. We have several committed volunteers willing to donate labour if we can provide the needed materials such as roof rafters, plumbing & electrical supplies, second-hand windows, ceramic tile, bathroom fixtures and so on. We also will need to purchase posts and wire fencing to paddock their dogs; and, the rental of a skid to dump and remove the collected debris. A budget of $7,500 is needed to complete this project, which we expect to finish by the end of March 2016.

Marlene and Carlitos urgently need your help — the pictures speak for themselves — can you help them?  Any amount will be received with gratitude and put to good use.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on January 16, 2017

Posted on January 16, 2017

It’s been a full year since we began this project and as the project was actually completed last September/October a final accounting is long overdue.

This is a project that could well never end, but we have met our initial objective of providing Marlene and Carlitos as well as all the dogs in their care a shelter that is clean and secure against the elements equipped with essential furnishings. Sad to say, their home is now much more comfortable than many in which a lot of poor Uruguayans live.

To quickly recap: Four dumpsters of junk were removed from the inside of the house and surrounding property; the roof over the main sleeping quarters was repaired with membrane (thanks to Yudelmis & Denis) and a new roof with new rafters and metal sheeting was installed over the barbacoa which they use as their livingroom; five windows were repaired or replaced with reconditioned used ones; a new metal door was installed in the barbacoa; new glass was installed in Marlene’s patio door; gaping holes in the walls throughout the dwelling were repaired; the electric panel was replaced and new wiring throughout with at least one plug and light fixture installed in each room; new ceramic floor tile was set in the kitchen, hallway, bathroom as well as Carlitos’ bedroom; plumbing in the kitchen and bath was upgraded; a new pozo negro installed; a new hot water tank was installed in the bath including new taps (thanks Jerry); walls in all six rooms were painted white; two new wooden bed frames (a single & a double) were purchased; and a used cupboard was purchased for each of their rooms.

Major Contracts:

1) Jorge Estefan to tile the floor in the kitchen, hallway and bath including walls, re-mount existing toilet, install and plumb a small pozo negro (septic tank), as well as provide and install a used bathroom door. Total $1,712.60 USD.

2) Geoff de Toit was contracted to replace the roof over the barbacoa with new rafters and metal sheeting, to reset an old window as well as provide and install a new exterior door. Total $1,257.01 USD

Incidental Expenses:

Trash removal (dumpster rental) - $177.33 USD; new 20L hot water Tank - $153.02 USD; new electric panel, plugs, switches & wiring - $404.77 USD; two used closets and a chest of drawers - $150 USD; two new wooden beds - $89.60 USD; Sub-Total $974.72

Donations In-kind:

Paint and sundry incidentals (J&W); an Ikea game table and bookcase (J&W); a mattress (Heather & Dave); two beautiful large armchairs (Doris & Rheinhard); a new stove (Marianna); kitchen ware (Mike & Anna); ceramic floor tile (El Cine);

Volunteer Labour:

Hundreds of hours of labour were donated to the project, particularly in the beginning stages of the project for which the organizers give their heartfelt thanks—you know who you are. Without this initial burst of volunteerism the project would simply not have gotten off the ground. Value: $ Priceless.


Marlene has expressed to us in her own way their gratitude for what we all have done for them—checkout the picture of her sitting in her ‘new’ chair where she said that she felt like a queen!

We wish to add our own thanks to the many volunteers, donors and well-wishers for their substantial support.

For those who would like to continue their support for the welfare of the dogs themselves can do so on our companion fundraiser..,

Posted on July 17, 2016

Posted on July 17, 2016

There are three photos added to the end of gallery. The first is the way the BBQ/living area looked before we started working on it. 
The old leaking roof was removed this week after everything was cleared out, the window and door were removed - unfortunately the wall beside the door also collapsed and had to be reworked. The window was cleaned, painted and new glass installed and then reinstalled. The roof rafters are now in place and the gaps between them filled in. Once the cement has hardened the new roof panels can be installed,  the new front door put in and the walls painted. This will give Marlena and Carlitos and the dogs a much more comfortable space. They do not really have any furniture for this space. We are donating a wooden table but they could use a TV stand, one or two side tables and some serviceable dog beds. They also could use some outdoor dog houses, the ones they used to own have rotted away and the remaining one gets very wet inside when it rains. If anyone has any items to donate, we would love to hear from you.

Posted on July 8, 2016

Posted on July 8, 2016

After days and days of rain, we finally were able to spend some time today at Marlene's house. The plan was to clear up the vegetation growing over the barbacoa roof so that it can be removed and also to empty out the space.
Marlene was quite distressed due to all the rain that had come into the area. All the dog beds were soaked, the table they used for the TV collapsed and the floor was still very wet today.
We ended up throwing away most of the old clothes and quilts she was using as dog bedding, and we also removed another very heavy old rusted metal table that was in danger of collapsing. 
Now we have to wait until Geoff is available to continue with the planned renovations when he can.

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