The Xar Rodriguez Family

We arrive at Ana Silvia’s home earlier than expected. She is still trying to finish some of her chores but when she discovers that we are visiting to hear about her experience with Habitat Guatemala, she is instantly overtaken by joy. Ana Silvia (25) and her husband, Edwin (26), had been living in his parent’s land ever since they had their first two kids, Edwin (7) and Silvia (4).

They had always desired to have a house of their own and had purchased land, but did not have the means to build one. Their old home was a tin home where they had limited space. One of Ana Silvia’s friends told her about Habitat Guatemala, and their family decided to get the paperwork together in order to apply.

During the construction of their home, Ana Silvia was still pregnant with her third child. She has been to show the team what Roslyn(now four months) looks like. She pointed out the pictures of her family and a very special one of when they married which she had made while the team came down.

Now, the family has a place to cook, a clean bathroom for themselves, and two bedrooms. They also have more space for their belongings and even a place for her chickens outside. Ana Silvia is very happy to be in her new home. “We are now very happy as a couple that we are living in our own home.”  In tears, she expresses her gratitude and joys to the group that came down and helped her build her home, “Thank you for coming down to build our home without asking for anything in return.”

The Montufar Cruz Family

Stepping into the Montufar’s home, you feel welcome right away. Decorations celebrating the birth of their newest son are still displayed, and they have no plans of taking them off anytime soon. Their fish tank is full, and their kitchen is well stocked with everything they need to make tasty meals.

For two long years, Jorge Mario and Lourdes rented a small piece of land. They lived in tiny house made from half adobe and half tin. One day, after church, Jorge Mario was talking to one of the church members,who happened to work for Habitat Guatemala. They visited his home that night to see the different housing designs. Since he had some of the models there, the Montufars’ decided which one of the homes that they wanted to apply for that night.
They never expected for the process to be so easy, and they didn’t have to wait long for their home to be built. This past January, they had already settled in.

“It is very satisfying to own your own home and to have a place that is safe for my family,” says Mario. “We moved around for a few years, and it is very comforting to have a steady place of our own instead.”  Even though their home is not as close to their son’s school, they feel at peace in the new place and have a good place for him to grow up.

As Jorge Mario works to provide for his family, Lourdes also works hard to raise their two sons Mario David (6) and their newborn, Samuel. They have already made their place into their own and are planning to add a garage to work in on some projects.

To the group that helped them build the home is very special to them and will never forget all of the support throughout the process. To them, Lourdes says, “Thank you for everything that you thought us.” And from Mario: “Keep up the hard work because by the way you worked together you showed us that there are no limits to what teamwork can accomplish!”

The Arias Hernandez Family

Just a few months before her first child was born, Sandra (22) was living in Ciudad Vieja, Sacatepequez which is about an hour away from where her husband’s home.  Jose (27) lived in San Pedro, las Huertas next to Antigua Guatemala with his family where he grew up. They had recently married they were still figuring out where to settle. For a moment, they were not living together since from the time they met to the time their son was born they were still living in their parent’s home. Meanwhile, Sandra would commute from her home to Jose’s every day and this journey was very long and tiring. “Sometimes, I would walk all the way because the buses were really full,” said Sandra, “I just wanted my child to be safe.” Lilia, her mother in-law, realized that the couple was going through these difficulties; she gave her son a piece of land for them to build a home.


Maria Desire, one of Lilia’s older daughters, had previously built her home through Habitat so she knew how Habitat worked.  When Sandra and Jose had gathered the paperwork for the land cleared, they decided to apply for a home right away. Almost immediately after the paperwork was processed, the construction of their home begun. By December 23rd of 2017, they had moved into their new home. They are very pleased to know that the land is being used well, since far too many times, people own plenty of land with nothing but a lot of sand.

And as for the future plans for their new home, they have already planted a few flowers for their garden and they hope to paint it to bring more life into their space.

They are now able to enjoy their new life in a new home and best of all, a safe place for them to grow as a family and enjoy their time together. “Thank you for doing a labor that not many others do,” says Lilia. They are very grateful to the team that came down and the will never forget how hardworking they are.

Starting life together doesn’t have to be such a struggle and working with Habitat Guatemala has made things easier for many families including the Arias’ Family.



The Ortiz Chan Family

After seven years of living in a rented house, Jaqueline and her husband, Lenin, knew that it was time to move into a house of their own when their landlord decided to raise the rent. Her father in-law encouraged them to find assistance in order to build their home. They went to work and searched around a few organizations, which had all too many requirements in order to apply. Because Lenin is a self employed mechanic, they did not have a solid proof of income to prove that they could pay off a loan. During this search, however, their perseverance paid off, because while visiting one of these organizations, one of the workers recommended her to talk to Habitat Guatemala.

They wasted no time. After learning that they were able to meet the requirements for a Habitat home, Jacqueline and Lenin submitted the application and were approved a month later. With great relief, they were able to move into their home during the month of December only four months after they applied.  Their previous landlord had always been very demanding and rarely gave them flexibility with monthly payments; a common problem for many self employed families. Now with a steady home, Lenin is able to focus on his work, and they can finally breathe knowing that they are paying for their own home and purchase furniture without worrying where they will go.

Having a new home has brought great stability to their life, and more importantly, a safe place for their daughters,Adriana (6) and Hilary(5) to live. Located right next to their old house there was a small cantina where drunken men constantly lurked about. “I don’t miss our old home,” Adriana said to her mother a few weeks after moving. This removed Jaqueline’s concern that their daughters wouldn’t feel comfortable in a new place. Now, they are free to study, play, and enjoy Ceci, a Beagle pup, and the newest addition to the family.

With respect tot he team that came down to build, Jaqueline couldn’t believe how hard the women worked during the process. Because she had never seen another  woman work like that before, let along a foreign woman, the experience broke all of her misconceptions of a “man’s job.”She said, “I ask God to bless you in every way for the willingness to help as well as the effort that you put into the building of our home.”

As for the future plans of their home; the family has already begun the construction of a second floor where they will have a room for both of their daughters and a large room for themselves. None of this could have been possible without the help of willing people, Habitat Guatemala, and the virtue of perseverance.

The Mazariegos Terete Family

Stepping into Astrid’s lovely home, you are welcomed by a picturesque room filled with a colorful harmony of art and nature. A glass tank filled with turtles will make anyone smile right away.

Having worked at a bank for many years before, Astrid, a mother of three was slightly reluctant to approach Habitat for Humanity Guatemala. She knew firsthand how much it would take to apply for a new home through the bank. Her family was living in a small room at her parent’s house but, naturally, she grew weary of this situation, as her brothers’ families were also staying there.  Living in such a crowded home was affecting her children’s education because it didn’t allow any space for them to study or play.

On a Sunday evening, Astrid went to the Habitat Guatemala affiliate office in Chimaltenango to get the inside scoop. To her surprise, she discovered that the plans were simple, easy to access, and also affordable. That same week, she decided to apply, and a month later the construction of her new home began. In November 2016, only three short months later she applied, Astrid’s family moved into their new home, where she immediately felt at peace. After two years of working on her own without a steady job she managed to establish herself for the future of her children. With great satisfaction, she says, “For two long years, I asked my children to help me by praying for a new home every day.” Now, her children are free to play and have the proper space to study. Not only that, but she is also able to focus on her own art and work projects.

Astrid plans to put up a fence around the yard so that her children can have a safe place to play, as well as eventually add rooms for each of her children.

And to the team that came down Astrid says, “Thank you for taking time off your professions and providing the means to build our home.” She couldn’t believe that a team of highly trained doctors and lawyers would come down and work so hard with their hands. She will forever be grateful.


The Power of Global Village

This time last year, Lee Jerstad, was in Tecpan, Guatemala as a Global Village volunteer and team leader. She was leading twelve people from the Habitat for Humanity Evansville affiliate.

Through the generosity of an anonymous donor, Lee had the opportunity to provide an all-expenses paid trip to one lucky lady. Through a simple, 3 question application process, Lee came to know Evansville Habitat homeowner, Lacey. Lacey, a single mom to an 8-year-old son, had juggled radiology school and motherhood, while not skipping a beat and accomplishing 300+ hours on her own habitat home construction.  A few months later, Ms. Lacey was on her very first plane right to Guatemala.

Lee spoke about the nine days in Guatemala with an infectious smile, especially of what it meant to her to share this experience with Lacey. “This is what it is all about,” Lee said as she described the relationship between Lacey, the U.S. Habitat homeowner and William, a Guatemalan homeowner. William was also a single parent, determined to provide a safe, dignified home for his young son.

“She kept stressing how much it meant to pay it forward,” mentioned Lee regarding Lacey’s experience.  As a Habitat homeowner, serving another Habitat homeowner who was also a single parent, was a particularly connecting moment.

The power of Global Village is relationships like the one of Lacey and William. Families of different countries and languages united by the power of homeownership.

Volunteer Engagement specialist, Lee Jerstad, now calls Americus, Georgia home as the Volunteer Engagement Specialist for Thrivent Builds Worldwide.

The Tum Morales Family

Four-year-old Naomi loves her shiny red scooter. She takes ahold of its two handles and begins to zoom around her kitchen, weaving in and out between her parents’ legs and laughing at their attempts to catch her.

“So much has changed,” her mother, Nancy (28) says. “How can I explain it to you? The time that we spend together is much more precious. Our daughter doesn’t have to go outside all the time for the lack of space. She can play in her own house on her scooter. “The devil scooter,” jokingly grumbles Alvaro (30), Nancy’s husband.

The couple and their daughter have lived in their new home for all of twenty days. “Before, we lived in Zona 3 of Rabinal with my mother in law for five years,” Nancy remembers. We ask how many people used to live in that house. Nancy counts aloud, her fingers up to keep track of each person. “Four, plus three, oh my, seven people! In three rooms! There wasn’t a lot of a space.”

Overcrowding offered limited privacy, and Nancy and Alvaro wanted to make a new change. They knew just who to ask. “Habitat Guatemala has always offered help. The house we lived in was built by Habitat. And for that reason, we wanted to take advantage of the services that they offer.”

Alvaro and Nancy both agree the move has been nothing but positive. “It feels excellent to have a house at last. We are so content and well here. It’s spacious and our own, unlike before, where we were enclosed.”

Although Nancy has to travel a bit more for work, she is happy that she can exercise by walking to the bus stop. As for Alvaro, he has started working earlier in the morning in order to be home by midday. “That way, I can take care of our little one,” he winks at Naomi.

Nancy and Alvaro also recollect the group fondly. “They were friendly and gave us confidence to make this our home. They spoke a lot of their experiences with cultural exchanges. Only one of them had been to Guatemala before, but despite the gap, we were quickly able to communicate and get along well.”

Their message to them? “Thank you for coming to help with the house construction. You are part of this project, and we will never forget what you did to help achieve our dream.”

The Amperez Family

When asked what their favorite subject is at school, twelve-year-old Gloria and her eight-year-old brother, Iberto, respond in unison.

“Math. Of course.”

For as long as they can remember, Gloria and Iberto Amperez used to make two, thirty minute trips a day under a thick smog of heat and dust. Their goal? To reach the Pacox Chiticoy schoolhouse, which lies on the outskirts of the sleepy town of Rabinal. The journey often took precious time out of the day, making it difficult for the two siblings to study. However, since moving into their new Habitat home, the two siblings have more educational access than ever. The biggest change is that school is five minutes from their front door.

“They have more time to study, and they can do it calmly and without rushing,” remarks their mother, Isabel (32). She embraces her youngest child, Bonny, on her lap as she says it. In addition to opening new doors for her older children, the new house has offered newfound peace and quiet for her, unlike the previous one. “We lived in Pamalche with my mom,” Isabel remembers. “There were eight people living in the house, which was small, and only had two rooms. There wasn’t any space or privacy. It was also old.”

The family had big dreams.  “We wanted something of our own.” Isabel says. On the day they discovered Habitat Guatemala, everything changed. “We went to a community outside Rabinal and saw these beautiful houses. We said, ‘how can we get one of those?’” She smiles at the memory. “My mother-in-law bought land out here and gave it to us.”

Since moving in two months ago, life has improved significantly for their family of five. Cesar, Isabel’s husband, works as a police officer in a local municipality and is often away. Isabel is also busy; in addition to taking care of her own housework, she will work occasionally as a cleaning women in the center of town, often touting Bonny along on her back. However, she notes that she has more time to herself.

She also is looking forward to adding more personal touches to their home.

“We still have to install electricity and running water. But using lamina for a roof works well for us because it doesn’t allow the heat to pass through like an adobe house would. It’s refreshing here.” As for painting, she says that she wants to include her children and will let them pick the colors for each room.

Isabel has a special message for the group that came to build her house. “We thank you so much for helping us, for helping us raise the foundation of this house. Thank you for your support.”