Max opens the door of his new place. It’s well furnished. Inside, Yohana’s eyes adjust as she steps outside her bedroom. She works at night and sleeps during the day as Max takes care of the kids, 2.5-year-old Alexander and 8-year-old Natalia. Max tells the story of how they got their new house from behind his neatly cleaned dining room table.
Max and his family were renting an apartment for 900 Quetzales (roughly $120) monthly. It was a little apartment, about the size of two rooms in his new house.
“There were other families there,” he says. The family wasn’t fond of living with so many people around. But that wasn’t the worst part.
“The hardest part of living there was when we paid. Sometimes we couldn’t. And the owners didn’t give us more time, so we had to take out other loans.”
The family was living in financially irresponsible conditions. These payday-type loans that they were forced to use had huge interest rates and the family had trouble paying them, living paycheck by paycheck. And all that money wasn’t invested; it was thrown into an endless pit of rent.
The family had tried to get their own house, but “banks don’t lend money very fast,” according to Max. Changes had to be made. They applied to Habitat Guatemala to get their own house. Within a short time, volunteers were on site helping to put up the walls of their very own place.
“Thanks for all your support,” says Max. “We are enjoying the house that you helped us build. If you are ever in Guatemala, we are here with open doors.”
Now, Max says he feels happy to have his own house after 8 years of paying rent. He’s also excited for all the ways he’s going to modify everything. He wants to put up a cement patio and a wall on the sunny side of the house, where the roof already has an extension. He also plans to put up a garage for his car and wants to get the house covered with plaster to make it look prettier and last longer.
Max and his family feel a sense of independence and tranquility, being out of the cramped part of the city. Their lives have changed for the better, and they are still making steps to become more sustainable and independent.