Living in an Adobe House

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Hanging things on the wall was out of the question – the wall would have crumbled with any attempt at nailing something into it. For María’s family, that was one of the disadvantages of living in an adobe house. She notes that her old adobe house had become humid, because the adobe had started to soak up all the water from the ground, leaving the interior of the house in a constant state of dampness. And aside from the uncomfort and inconvenience of it all, there was a big security factor involved. After all, adobe is dried mud, but when it’s wet mud, it doesn’t hold.

“I was nervous for an earthquake,” says María. “It was a litte said to live there. The adobe wasn’t secure.”

Harboring that worry in the back of your mind is taxing and unsettling. Even more unsettling is when your worry turns into a reality.

November 7, 2012. A 7.4-magnitude earthquake rocks western part of Guatemala, destroying thousands of homes from Huehuetenango to Quetzaltenango to San Marcos. The first homes to give way: those that were adobe. Those that didn’t crumble were left standing with severe cracks, leaving homeowners worried that another tremor would finish the job.
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Soila and Manuel woke up in the middle of the night because of the shaking. Their adobe house didn’t crumble, but it left a huge crack in the back of the house. They were left restless and unassured of the its stability. Would there be another tremor? How much damage did the house actually suffer? These were the questions that kept Soila and Manuel up at night…until they got their Habitat house.

Habitat Guatemala is addressing these issues. There are 1.8 million houses to be made in order for everyone to live in an adequate home. Many of these homes need to be built in the countryside, where a huge amount of families live in adobe houses in varying conditions. María and her family are also safe and sound in a Habitat house, but many of her neighbors in Cantel, Quetzaltenango are still living in humble adobe abodes. It is our mission to provide access for these low-income families to have an adequate and affordable home.

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