Jose and Maria have two young daughters, Heidy and Astrid. They inherited their land from Jose's father and live in a village where they have to get their water from a community fountain. As many men in his community, Jose works as a day laborer in the fields around his village. Maria is a skilled weaver and sells typical handicrafts to help the family out financially.
The Hernandez Perez family had been living in a shack made of corn stalks, scrap metal and a dirt floor. Now they have a much desired concrete block home. This will be an improvement for both their health and safety.
Each year our members get a special invitation to travel to Guatemala to meet the families they've helped. During these visits we participate in the construction of one of the homes. Erinn Millar, had the privilege of giving the Hernandez Perez family the keys to their new home. It was life changing for everyone!
It is not just bricks and mortar that we provide. There is follow up that happens with the families. On one of her visits, Chris King, our director, was excited to find that Astrid and Heidi are in school. This was a point of uncertainty at the time the home was being constructed. Our belief is that a home is a catalyst for launching hopes and helping dreams come true.
Bella and Elvis have one son, Jeremy. Like many local young men early in their work lives, Elvis has several jobs working in both a bakery and at a sawmill. Bella works helping her mother raise animals.
Jeremy, pictured here with his cousins, often plays with the other kids and hopefully will start school next year. School is a challenge. Some of the cousins are not in school because there is not enough spare funds to cover uniforms and other school expenses. There is a tough tradeoff between scraping together enough to invest in education versus the food and emergency medical expenses that regularly come up.
Bella’s mother, Marta, subdivided her land to make a parcel for them. These stone block houses are highly sought after by families because of the safety, warmth, and status they provide. Moving into a house like this is a sign in the community that the family is taking a big step forward.
Agricultural side businesses are common, especially raising animals at the home. These cute piglets are just outside the house and getting bigger every day. Bella's mother makes and sells a cheese that is traditional in Chimaltenango where they live. For this cheese business, they also keep a goat and a cow.
When you come to their home you are warmly welcomed and find it hard to say goodbye.
Marco and Maria are the aunt and uncle you could only hope for. They have two sons and two daughters and they have taken on the responsibility of caring for several of their nieces and nephews.
We were able to visit the Diaz Bolaños family. We don't know who had more fun, our group or the kids. Despite tough circumstances, the kids were engaging and quick to teach us games and show us what they had been learning in school.
Marco is the main breadwinner for the family. He is an entrepreneur, selling car fresheners. It isn't hugely lucrative, but when their nieces and nephews were in need of a home, they found a way to stretch their income to make sure their family was taken care of.
As you walk down the road to Chuaquenum, you turn a corner and there is an incredible view of Lake Atitlan to the right. As you look to the left, you can start to see a spattering of block homes adorned with pots of colorful flowers where stick & mud houses used to stand. Here is where you will find the Chuluc Family.
Chuaquenum is the first remote project we undertook to provide homes for an entire village. When we first started this project, we were planning to put in latrines. Thanks to the perseverance of the village leader, advocating for the running water they were supposed to already have, the families in Chuaquenum have flushing toilets for the first time. In addition to the main living room and bathroom, the families also received an efficient wood burning stove and water filter.
There are several requirements the family must meet to qualify for a home. They must be below a certain level of income, be willing to participate in the follow up program and have proof that they own the property where the home will be built. Having seen several of his neighbors completed homes, Miguel was ready for us when we arrived. After a warm greeting he immediately presented us with the deed to his land.
We love hearing from the family. As cooking is often a monumental undertaking for a large family, it doesn't surprise us what Maria is especially thankful for:
"Thanks to everyone that helped us to build our new home. God bless you. And thanks for our new stove, we can not thank you enough for what you have done for us." Maria