When asked what their favorite subject is at school, twelve-year-old Gloria and her eight-year-old brother, Iberto, respond in unison.
“Math. Of course.”
For as long as they can remember, Gloria and Iberto Amperez used to make two, thirty minute trips a day under a thick smog of heat and dust. Their goal? To reach the Pacox Chiticoy schoolhouse, which lies on the outskirts of the sleepy town of Rabinal. The journey often took precious time out of the day, making it difficult for the two siblings to study. However, since moving into their new Habitat home, the two siblings have more educational access than ever. The biggest change is that school is five minutes from their front door.
“They have more time to study, and they can do it calmly and without rushing,” remarks their mother, Isabel (32). She embraces her youngest child, Bonny, on her lap as she says it. In addition to opening new doors for her older children, the new house has offered newfound peace and quiet for her, unlike the previous one. “We lived in Pamalche with my mom,” Isabel remembers. “There were eight people living in the house, which was small, and only had two rooms. There wasn’t any space or privacy. It was also old.”
The family had big dreams. “We wanted something of our own.” Isabel says. On the day they discovered Habitat Guatemala, everything changed. “We went to a community outside Rabinal and saw these beautiful houses. We said, ‘how can we get one of those?’” She smiles at the memory. “My mother-in-law bought land out here and gave it to us.”
Since moving in two months ago, life has improved significantly for their family of five. Cesar, Isabel’s husband, works as a police officer in a local municipality and is often away. Isabel is also busy; in addition to taking care of her own housework, she will work occasionally as a cleaning women in the center of town, often touting Bonny along on her back. However, she notes that she has more time to herself.
She also is looking forward to adding more personal touches to their home.
“We still have to install electricity and running water. But using lamina for a roof works well for us because it doesn’t allow the heat to pass through like an adobe house would. It’s refreshing here.” As for painting, she says that she wants to include her children and will let them pick the colors for each room.
Isabel has a special message for the group that came to build her house. “We thank you so much for helping us, for helping us raise the foundation of this house. Thank you for your support.”