We have an ongoing relationship with the families we work with. For example, promoters in every region are assigned to work with a family from the start of their application process until their move-in day, supporting them along the way with necessary paperwork and legal processes. As a part of that relationship, we also visit each family that has worked with a volunteer group after they’ve moved in to their new housing. We hear their about their experience from start to finish, including stories about working alongside the volunteers.
One of the most revealing questions we ask is, “Why did you decide to apply for a new home?”
We’ve compiled a list of the most common answers, in ascending order.
5. “The adobe was humid”
Over time, adobe houses become old and weak. This process is expedited when the house doesn’t get much air flow, or when the walls are consistenly exposed to rain. Many times, you can visibly see the moisture’s progress on its way from the ground on old houses. This slow structural doom creates a serious security risk.
4. “We feared another earthquake would topple the house”
This one is more regional. In the last few years, a number of earthquakes have rattled Guatemala, including a really strong one in 2012. Since then, families have lived in adobe homes that have severe cracks and structural damage. The majority of these cases happen around the departments of Quetzaltenango, Sololá, and especially San Marcos.
Another notable fact is that after the 2012 earthquake, Guatemala’s national government offered new housing to many people whose homes were destroyed, but their promise was unfulfilled in many cases.
3. “The roof leaked water”
The majority of roofs in Guatemalan houses is made with corrugated galvanized steel. It’s cheap, not hard to install, and you can overlap sheets easily to direct the rain away from the house. The problem is that, in time, it deteriorates with rust and holes. And it’s not fun to wake up to a roof that’s dripping on you in the middle of a night.
2. “There was no space”
Families grow. And more often than not, “there was no space” also means “five of us were sharing a bedroom,” or in some cases, “five of us were sharing a bed.” And when there’s a young couple with one child and another on the way, sharing one bedroom isn’t ideal.
1. “We wanted a house of our own”
Overwhelmingly, families respond to this question by saying they wanted something of their own. Often times, young couples live with in-laws in an extra bedroom, and they don’t feel independent. Other times, families rent apartments but expensive monthly rent and property rules make them feel suppressed. Having the keys to a house and the liberty to come and go as you please makes all the difference. Even if they didn’t make monthly payments before, across the board, families say vale la pena. It’s worth it.
You may be interested:
Overcoming a hurricane: The Guadalupe Ardon Family
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