There are stories of happiness and stories of triumph. Then, there is the story of Lorinda Cataju (40) and Juan Sician Chuc (40), a couple who confronted adversity with courage, dignity, and utmost determination.
It began three years ago, when their family fell on difficult times. As farmers, they depended heavily on their crop for sustenance. However, this particular season, the crop failed, going with it, their primary income. Soon, Lorinda and Juan’s savings dried up, and they lost their house. All of a sudden, they found themselves, and their five young children, Andy, Josue, Isabella, Luis, and Mateo, with no place to go.
With their most important asset gone, and little options, Lorinda and Juan had to make an enormous decision.
“We couldn’t give food to our kids,” Lorinda says, her voice wobbling. “What do you do when you can’t provide food to your children?”
In the end, they sent all five to an orphanage forty-five minutes away. “Once a month, we went to go see them,” Juan explains. “But it just wasn’t the same.”
Lorinda and Juan felt that they had hit rock bottom. Their living conditions were by no means adequate. “We were in a shack, covered in a nylon tarp. It didn’t have a roof, or sturdy walls. For three years, we were there. There was nothing for us there. No kitchen, no bathroom, no children.” Lorinda sighs, deeply unhappy at the recollection. “It was very difficult to live like this.”
However, she was determined to reunite their family once more. “I spoke with my husband,” recounts Lorinda. “I told him that we were going to save a little bit of money. Then, we were going to go to Habitat. And then, we were going to get our children back.”
They did just that. For the next three years, Lorinda and Juan saved. And saved. And saved. Although it took a whole year to process the paperwork, they were soon approved for their new home.
Flash forward to today. Resting upon a small, grassy hill is the family home, filled with five, giggling children and two happy parents. On the day we visit, the youngest, Mateo, is eager to give a tour of the house, pointing to the beds where he and his brothers sleep.
Lorinda beams at the sight. “It feels better to have a house at last, because at last, we have filled it with our children. Again, they can be with us.”
Juan adds, “We have a bit more time to ourselves. We can be secure. We have privacy. We have family.”