When Geovany came home to hear his five-year-old pleading for affirmation about their housing, enough was enough.
Geovany’s story starts out in a little room up the street. That’s where he and his wife Veronika had been renting for seven years, since they got married.
“We were always gathering money, and eventually we had some amount saved up,” says Geovany, “and then some need would come up, so we never succeeded in getting a house.”
Geovany points to his current living room and bedroom. “Our place was this big,” he says. “One room, we shared it, the four of us.”
Geovany works at a large restaurant called Chichoy as a server. On top of the expenses of having kids and paying rent, he was able to save up a little bit, but not enough to get his own house.
“We spent seven years trying to get our own house,” he says. “We had tried everything, but it never worked out. Sometimes they would offer loans with a high interest rate, or other times they didn’t accept us because we didn’t have enough income.”
Renting a room in somebody else’s house was a burden, only exacerbated by the impossibility of owning their own house.
“I felt bad,” says Geovany. “Because every day, Veronika would arrive and the home owner would say ‘don’t put your things there!’ It was several times every week that she would complain about something to me, so I felt bad.”
But it didn’t stop there.
“My kid [Jeffry], he would go out to the patio to play with the other kids. Sometimes the homeowner’s kid would fight with him and tell him that it’s not his house and that he should get out. That’s what got to me. One day I got home and he says to me, ‘daddy, tell me this is my house.’ That hurt a lot, that made me cry bitterly!”
He wipes his eyes. “It still stings, to tell the truth.”
“One day my friend told me about Habitat, so I call Habitat and they tell me they’ll come at noon. They came and told me to get the paperwork in order. So the next week I had all the paperwork and it was approved.
Whereas other institutions offer for-profit loans, Habitat’s low-interest loan is a huge advantage for people in economic situations like Geovany’s. He was amazed at how fast everything worked out. “Within 15 days the materials came and the volunteers came!”
Veronika says working with the volunteers was a memorable experience. “God bless you all. I don’t remember all of your names, but one woman told me she had left her heart here. She made a little drawing of her heart to show that she left her heart here. We remember each person who was here. Every day to wake up and remember that we are in our own house is an immense joy. To God and to all of you we give our thanks, and may God bless you in all of your work that you do.”
Geovany added, “Many thanks for the time that you’ve taken. We thank God first and secondly all of you because you’ve made it possible for me to live here. You all took on the task of helping us and constructing this house. We’ve succeeded and we are happy for everything that you have done, and infinite thanks! I don’t know how to show the thanks we have in our hearts.”
Geovany mentions, “sometimes I wanted to give you things, but I didn’t have much to give. Either way, it was a really happy time because you were constructing something that would be really important in our lives. It was really exciting.”
Now, Geovany and Veronika are proud to say they own a house.
“We’re happy,” says Veronika. “It’s not the same as renting. We have a place to put our animals, our plants, and our kids can go out and play without worring about being scolded. Now I can say this is my house, and I’m happy for that. It’s an incredible joy because it’s something I’ve always wanted.”
They’re also glad that their house is warmer than the old one, because of the location and the quality of construction.
Geovany is already thinking about the future. “I have a ton of plans,” he says. “To start, this is a project. My project is to finish this one and make it comfortable, and then make another one for the kids. My goal is that they don’t have to wait on someplace to go when they’re older, so they don’t have to suffer like we’ve suffered.”
Five-year-old Jeffry runs around the house as his parents chat. It’s apparent that the young couple is proud of their achievement, for the new house has given them added space and comfort. But even more, it’s given them the sense of dignity and independence that they’ve been striving for.