José lives with his wife Martha and their granddaughter Jimena (17) in their new Habitat home in Valle de las Flores Habitat Housing Community in Escuintla.
The Pereira family is one of the 41 families who received a fully subsidized Habitat home through the Fuego Volcano Disaster Response project. The families who have benefited from the project are from the communities of San Miguel los Lotes, El Barrio and El Rodeo. The Fuego volcano eruption affected over 1.7 million Guatemalans, leaving many dead and missing, and thousands seeking refuge in temporary shelters.
José is blind and he used to work with cattle on a farm near San Miguel los Lotes, but after the tragedy happened, he lost his job. Now he is looking for a new job near Valle de las Flores. “Everyone who knows me, knows about my sight limitations, but they also know that I am well prepared in my profession and hopefully I will find a new job soon,” says José.
A few months have passed since the family moved into their new Habitat home. The months following the tragedy they were living in different shelters, and with family members. Marta, in tears, shares her memories of that tragic day; “That day I heard people screaming to go out and run, I remember telling my sister to leave me there because I could not run anymore. If I was going to die, I wanted to die with all of my family. I gathered strength and we jumped in a car that took us out of there, all covered in ashes.” She continues; “The days and months after where even harder. We had to sleep on the floor in shelters, little by little people started bringing us food, blankets and clothes. When it rained, the water entered and flooded everything, it was very very hard.”
After going through all of the difficult times, hope knocked on their door when they were offered a home. “The day we found out that we were going to receive a house, I said to Jose ‘God did not forget about us’. It was a day of joy,” says Marta.
When asked about how they feel living in their new home, they answer; “We feel content! Thanks to God, to the donors and Habitat for helping us obtain this home.”
The weather and privacy is what José, Marta and Jimena, enjoy most about their home. “It is very different to have your own space and privacy. We are happy and comfortable here. We feel calm, at peace,” says Marta.
To the donors and volunteers, José would like to send the following message; “First of all, thanks to God. Habitat for creating this project. Thanks to the donors for making this possible.” Marta adds; “From the bottom of our hearts, thanks to everyone who supported us, may God bless you.”