My Habitat Experience: Celia Enríquez
Celia Enriquez has been a part of the Habitat for Humanity Guatemala (HFHG) family for more than 8 years. Recently, Celia has taken on the position of Donor Relations Officer and we sat down to ask her about her HFHG experience.
Why Habitat Guatemala?
Putting into words what it means to work for Habitat Guatemala is one of the most difficult things I have been asked to do. Perhaps it is so difficult because the more we feel, the more difficult it is to describe what we think and what we experience. But if I can say something, it is that Habitat has taught me the importance of believing in something and working towards it.
Naturally, people learn to love and be proud of the place where they are born. But, for me, Guatemala means more than that. I think of Guatemala as a place where every day there is a lot of pain, as a place where the past continues to have a stronger impact than ever, as a place that has only very recently been able to heal and emerge as what it really should be: a dignified country.
Historically, politically, socially and economically, we are one of the most vulnerable and unequal countries in Latin America and the world. It is certainly not easy to find opportunities when most of the wealth and power is concentrated in the hands of so few. This harsh reality is what makes me belong to Habitat Guatemala, it gives my work meaning and it makes me enjoy what I do.
I could mention many reasons why I like to be in this organization, but these are some of them:
We don’t just give things away
Providing families with housing solutions is a complex task. At Habitat, we do not give our products away, instead the families are involved throughout the process, either through their payments or through their involvement in the construction or labor processes. This is one of my favorite things about Habitat.
People’s expressions speak more than a thousand words, and looking at their smiles when they finally receive something they have dreamed of and worked hard for, is one of the most beautiful sensations that I have been able to feel. Being able to say “this is my home” or “now I have my own stove” are phrases that contain empowerment and self-esteem, and these are feelings that nothing and nobody can ever take away from our partner families.
Getting to know new places
The number and variety of the places in this small and diverse country will always be impressive! Working with Habitat is being open to see so many distinct and beautiful towns. From one department to another, there will always be different cultures and different meanings, which we can perceive from the language, the colorful clothing, and the foods and traditions, which have so much to tell us. I have always believed that this variety is one of the most beautiful resistances that, despite everything, our small towns have managed to keep.
Meet and work for our families
Meeting the members of our partner families by name is definitely one of the best opportunities that we as Habitat employees can have. Having direct contact with people and learning from the strength that emanates from them every day is something very significant and truly inspiring. Playing with the kids, trying to speak the same language, teaching them how to use a tool on the construction site, shows me what tenderness and hope looks like, and talking to their parents shows me how sincere a thank-you can sound.
Personal and professional challenges
I have been with Habitat for eight years already, but for me that has never meant doing the same thing. Being able to change tasks often, and most recently moving into a new position and the fact of having to know more about a subject in order to talk about it and gain more support through that, is something that keeps me motivated and makes me want to learn more. In addition, the variety of knowledge and professions needed to maintain such a large organization, is one of the things that I find most valuable, because they are all focused on the same goal but it makes us realize how we need from each other.
Getting to know my own family
Finally, I think Habitat is just that: a family. Being here has allowed me to meet incredible people with whom I have shared a significant part of my life. At the end, people with whom we share those eight-hours-a-day of our lives, become part of a family with whom we can talk about a problem, with whom we learn how to face things and finally with whom we enjoy so much what we have worked so hard for.
So, why Habitat Guatemala?
Because I firmly believe in small acts of hope and in returning all the good things we have. I think that feeling sorry is a mistake and that, instead, feeling empathy and putting oneself in the place of others and doing something about it, is an act that should define us all. For me, Habitat is that: empathy and hope.
Want to get in touch with Celia and learn more about the impact of your tithe? Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org