It’s Thursday afternoon and German Leonardo Yac Yac is busy working in the fields near his home. It’s a picturesque scene as he makes his way back home for a chat, a lone figure walking through the open fields, blue sky behind him. Chuchexic is a big agricultural area where field work is the livelihood of the majority of its residents.
Before his new home was built by Habitat workers and the volunteers, German lived in his older brother’s house along with his two younger brothers and their mom. That house, located nearby down a small dirt path, shows its age. It is made of adobe brick, made mostly from sand, dirt, and water. Better suited to dry climates, adobe doesn’t fair well during Guatemala’s rainy season. The roof of this house is made of old sheet metal that isn’t properly secured so it “lifts up in the wind allowing a lot of dust to enter the house,” says German. The dust enters their lungs as well, potentially leading to respiratory issues further down the road. Around 52% of Guatemalans have suffered from respiratory illnesses.
Although the structural integrity of his brother’s house was not ideal, the main reason German moved out was because his brother was getting married and starting a family. He wanted his own space. Understanding that new families need their independence, German and his mom decided, hey, why not take this opportunity to build our own house? They had received positive feedback from a friend about the construction, security, and costs of a Habitat home, and so decided to solicit their help in pursuing their dream.
The building process was very quick thanks to the help of the volunteer team, knocking a week off the construction time. The new home is built of block, concrete, and steel rebar using earthquake resistant construction techniques, making it strong and safer from disaster. The roof is of corrugated sheet metal and German says “it is well sealed and no dust comes into the house when there are strong winds.”
German remembers well the group that worked here, explaining how they helped out a lot. He wants to thank them and tell them they are welcome to visit anytime to see his new home and how happy he is in it. For now, it is only he and his mother who are working on the transition from the old house to the new, adding things here and there to make it their own. They have a smokeless stove in their kitchen and have added beautiful ceramic tile to the outside, a personal touch. German’s two younger brothers will also be living here eventually, but for the time being they work in another department a half day’s trip away. They are contributing financially to the house, but are only able to visit once a month and as such haven’t yet seen the new house. German is looking forward to their reactions when they do.