About thirty minutes outside Quetzaltenango, a winding road converts from a congested highway into a quiet sanctuary of houses and farms that perch on hillsides. A small road sign peeks out of the ground, indicating this community is “Aldea Talmax” (pronounced Tal-mash), or Talmax Village. It is here where Mauricio and Elvira have spent the past twenty-four years of their lives, first as children and neighbors. Now married, they are excited to see their three young children grow up in the house that was built four months ago by Habitat for Humanity Guatemala staff and volunteers.
“We wanted more children,” Elvira says, shifting their ten-month-old baby, Cristian, on her back. “And we knew that we needed more space to do it.”
Walking through the house, Mauricio which are scattered with toys and laundry fresh from the line. “There is more space for our children to be free to play. It’s more comfortable for all of us.” As he explains the changes, his seven-year-old son, Roni, ten-year-old daughter, Erika, and their ten-year old cousin, Joel, giggle, immersed in their own private game.
Space has been a tangible necessity for both Mauricio and Elvira. Before applying for a house with Habitat for Humanity Guatemala, they experienced very different circumstances. Mauricio explains, “We lived with my father, close by in the area. There was a lot of family crammed into one house. I would say about twelve people living in five rooms. There was no privacy, there was no freedom.”
Despite this drawback, Mauricio is happy to have had the experience, as it introduced him to the organization. “My father’s house was a Habitat house from about eighteen to twenty years ago. And we knew that if we applied for a house, it would be of good quality.”
Now, Mauricio, Elvira, and their children can thrive in their new space. “It is beautiful to have a place at last. We seized an unbelievable opportunity that has left us happy and secure enough to grow our family. Habitat has left us with a beautiful house.”