Martina Sicajau Tiu – Open Team – Polly Knudsen

Don Mariano (55) and his wife, Martina (47), are the new proud owners of a Habitat Home! They live with two of their children, Odilia (11), and Roberto (23), his wife, Julia (23), and baby Josselyn. Mariano works in agriculture. Roberto works in a different department, Petén, while the ladies stay at home.

Before partnering with Habitat Guatemala to build their home, the family used to live in the house in front of the new one, which now works as the kitchen. It was built out of adobe blocks and dirt floor. “Before, we were seven people sleeping in just one room, we lived like this for almost 23 years,” says Martina. She was a part of Habitat Guatemala Smokeless Stove Program, and one of the local affiliate promoters told them about the possibility of building a safer house.  They were very interested, but at that time, they did not have enough money. Three years later, they decided it was time to build a new home for their own! They decided to visit the office in Panajachel, and even though they did not know much about the city, they found it, and started with the process.

When we asked how they feel in their new home, Martina smiles and responds, “We are thrilled and grateful with our new home! From the beginning, the Habitat staff provided us with all the information and accompanied us during the entire process. Now, it is completely different to have our home built with cement floor and nice walls, it is a big improvement for us as a family.” What the family enjoy the most about being at home is, “…We love all the house, we love the design, our rooms, everything!”

Regarding to COVID-19 pandemic, Martina mentions, “This pandemic has hit us hard in the economic way, our son, Roberto is working at Petén. It has been five months that he has not had been able to come visit us, and see her daughter grow up, because it is hard to pay for the transportation.” Regarding to studies, Odilia has been studying from home, but it has been hard for Martina, because of her limited education.  Odilia might need to repeat her school year, because it can be a better way of her to learn better. But having the house, has prevent them from getting sick, and they also have a comfortable space to stay and spend time together.

About the time shared with the volunteers Martina recalls, “They were wonderful people, we really enjoyed spending time with them and build our house together! We missed them so much when they left. They are now part of our family.”

She finishes by sharing a message to the volunteers, “We are grateful and moved to get to know  people from abroad that came to help us even more that people from our own country!  To know that you left your family and friends to build with us and to work that hard, it is really admirable! We miss you all so much, and we wish that all of you are doing fine. We keep all the photos you left us as a great memory. May God bless you! Maltiox.