In the fields of Rabinal, two houses sit next to one another on a plot of corn. On the left, the older house squats close to the ground, capped with a sagging roof and surrounded by crumbling adobe bricks. On the right, the other house, built by Habitat for Humanity Guatemala volunteers, stands up straight. Its whitewashed walls glow, and its lamina glints under the sky.
“In this moment, with making many sacrifices, we have our house at last. It is worth everything.” These words belong to Cesar Manolo Hernandez Morales (37). This weekend, he, his wife, Miliana (28), as well as their two children, six-year-old Nelly and three-year-old Yusy, will be moving from their old house next door into their new home. The move will allow them to realize the dream of having a space to call their own.
“When you look at the two houses, the space and lack of adobe construction are the two biggest differences. There’s less heat coming into the house. The air feels more fresh,” says Cesar. “There’s more flexibility. The children will have their own rooms.”
For years, the family lived in the old house, which was once Miliana’s childhood home. Although meant tot shelter two people, the structure was filled with grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Relatives squeezed into two rooms, creating cramped quarters, and the heat proved unbearable during the day. Cesar and Miliana wanted a change.
“We took the initiative to move because of our children,” Cesar reflects. “They will continue to grow, and as they grow, we work to make sure that they are comfortable. The vision of Habitat Guatemala is to let families develop, grow emotionally. In our other house, this was not possible.”
Miliana is also content with the changes. “We feel happy. At last, we have our own home. We will continue paying, although we it’s for something good.”
For the volunteers who helped their family construct their home, Cesar recalls them fondly. “They were happy, always singing and dancing. It was beautiful, between the friendship, the meeting, simply being together. They were part of a bigger common goal and cooperation. For example, they were cutting iron, digging up earth for mortar, picking up rocks. They worked so quickly.”
Cesar and Miliana would like to extend their gratitude to the group that came to build their house: “May you continue forward; may you continue to help families in need. Also may God give you all of the blessings. All of us are very grateful.”