Family can be the antidote for challenging circumstances. This was the case for Johana Sauceda Alva (30) and her fourteen-year-old daughter, Jacquelyn. Before moving to Huehuetenango, mother and daughter lived in a town called Pasaco, located on the southeastern end of Guatemala. However, two years ago, their lives were turned upside down. “My husband left us for the United States,” reveals Johana. “He hasn’t written since.”
Despite the painful memory, Johana reflects that the event as one that changed her life for the better and allowed her to seek out assistance from her family. “My brother helped and supported us by opening up his home to my daughter and me,” Johana discloses. “It’s not healthy to live in a place with bad energy. For that reason, I packed us up and returned home.”
Although grateful for the temporary change, Johana also needed a permanent housing solution that would allow her and Jacquelyn to live peacefully. However, Johana’s salary as a cleaning woman would not cover most rental options, as they were extremely expensive. Buying a new house was also out of the question.
However, through her aunt, Johana discovered Habitat for Humanity Guatemala. “She told me that there was a project for people with limited resources, especially with paying back loans.” Johana smiles. “So I went and found the office, which was just down the street from my daughter’s new school, and it seemed like a good fit. I liked the option of being able to opt out if it didn’t work for me. So I applied. It only took two weeks to process the paperwork.”
Several months and a volunteer team later, Johana and Jacquelyn have a new home to look forward to. Johana feels blessed to have regained stability and looks forward to the new opportunity that Habitat has afforded her. “I can sleep peacefully knowing that the landlord isn’t going to knock down my door looking for money. It isn’t healthy to feel that load on your shoulders.” She gazes at the kitchen with a tranquil expression etched on her face. “This home is happiness.”
Although mother and daughter are still working to install electricity and water in their new home, they are eager to move in within the next few months. “With the help of God, we were able to move forward.” She says. “We just celebrated living in Huehuetenango for one year, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of my family. And, of course, Habitat.”