The Panjo Gomez Family


Answering the door is little Rony’s favorite task. When we go to visit his current house in San Lucas Tolimán,  he is nothing short of a beam of energy and elation. He hops from one foot to another and asks repeatedly if we would like to see his little toy truck. Rony’s one and half year-old brother, Carlos, looks on quizzically at his older sibling zooms around the room with a painted wooden truck in hand.

Brenda, Rony and Carlos’s mother, giggles at the sight of the two brothers’ interactions. On this sunny morning, she offers to show us her new house, which was built by Habitat for Humanity Guatemala volunteers, on the outskirts of San Lucas. Together, we board a tuk tuk, or motorcycle taxi, and pass through busy streets that turn into large expanses of farmland that are filled with flowers and trees. A white house emerges from the foliage, signifying hope and a new life.


Rony, Carlos, their older sister, Lilibeth, their mother, Brenda, their father, Rony Sr., and their grandmother, Aida, are set to move into their new house in February, and they could not be more excited about the transition.  When she was asked about her previous living conditions, Brenda discloses that their current house in the narrow quarters of inner San Lucas is far from an ideal place to live.  “For years, we have been renting, which is expensive for us.” Also, the space has not provided shelter. “Water enters through the roof and has destroyed a lot of our possessions, like clothes and food. There isn’t enough room for the six of us.  After six long years of being here, we know that we have to move.”


As they searched other options, Brenda’s brother-in-law suggested Habitat for Humanity. “He said that there were many benefits and that they offer alternatives to families who are interested in building their own house. The monthly payments would be like rent, but instead of paying forever and forever, we would be getting our own house at the end.”

She looks around the property, her face glowing. “My brother-in-law has done so much; he bought us this land because he knew that we needed it.”

Once they put the finishing touches on their house, such as installing electricity and running water, four spacious rooms, and a clean bathroom, will soon be all of theirs. Aida has big dreams and wants to plant flowers in between the trees, add a gate and wall, and, of course, play with her grandchildren. “We can make it our own with confidence,” she says.

More than anything, Brenda says that they are happy. “It’s now a place to call ours. We will continue to work harder than ever to make sure it stays that way, so that we can save and support the family.”