When Jennifer Brining first arrived in Guatemala to co-lead a Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip in 2015, she soon knew that she would be returning again and again. She fell in love with the local culture and landscape and, after another Global Village trip, decided to stay in Guatemala for several weeks to study Spanish.
At the advice of a friend, she began taking private lessons with a teacher named Álvaro Morales at a Spanish school in Antigua. “During these one-on-one lessons with Álvaro, we would occasionally talk about our personal lives,” says Jennifer. “I would ask him questions about his family and vice-versa. It was during these talks that I learned of his very special family.”
Álvaro and his wife, Lucrecia, are parents to four adult children, three of whom have special needs and use wheelchairs. “When Álvaro describes his family,” says Jennifer, “it is not with a heavy heart, but as a proud, loving father who thanks God that he can have his children at home and spend so much time with them.”
When Jennifer learned that the family lives in a two-story house and that the children had to be carried up and down the stairs, she was inspired to look into options for building a solar-powered elevator in the family home. Because of her work with Habitat for Humanity Guatemala, she decided to see if this was a project that Habitat would be able to take on–and it was. Jennifer launched a Go Fund Me campaign and asked her community to help make this project a reality.
The project, named the Morales Special Project, became the pilot project for the new Vulnerable Families Fund. This is a fund that is being developed by Habitat for Humanity Guatemala to improve the lives of families who, like the Morales family, may not need a new home but whose lives would be made better by a solution to their unique situation.
The Morales Family:
On the day that the elevator was installed, the mood in the Morales home was happy and festive. All four of the Morales children were in attendance. Álvaro (named after his father), Jackelin, and Guillermo took turns showing everyone how the elevator functioned while their younger brother, Rodrigo, helped his siblings out in whatever way he could.
Lucrecia shared a bit about how much her family means to her and how the elevator as already improved her life. “God gave us three children with special needs, but he also gives us assistance,” she explained. “The elevator is something that will be of great help now, but also in the future as we get older.”
Lucrecia is the primary caregiver for her three children, since her husband works full-time and her youngest son, Rodrigo, is studying physical therapy. Though her children are very independent, she had to carry them up and down the stairs, as their bedrooms are on the second level of the house. She is active and healthy, but the task took a toll on her physical and mental health. Having the elevator, she says, has lifted a weight off of her chest and alleviated much stress from her life.
From the time that she spent with the Morales family, Jennifer knows how much the solar-powered elevator will impact their life. “In addition to all of the physical benefits for the entire family,” she says, “it has given the children an independence that they’ve never had before, and Álvaro and Lucrecia more freedom.”
If you are inspired by this story and want to donate to the Vulnerable Families Fund, please visit our website and contribute today!