Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala

by The GOD'S CHILD Project
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Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala
Homes for Homeless Families in Guatemala

The Zuleta and Carmona families live very close to each other San Antonio Aguas Calientes, a town 15-20 minutes from Antigua, Guatemala. They are family, after all, and each of them has their own unique story.

23-year-old Damaris and her family live in the Verapaz neighborhood of San Antonio Aguas Calientes. She gave birth to her 8-year-old son Lester when she was only 15 years of age. She became pregnant due to the deception of an older man taking advantage of her young age, who afterwards only left her. Damaris never heard from him again.

It was difficult for Damaris being a single mother and trying to support her child with the little money that she earned working as a weaver. She eventually found another companion, who became a father figure to her children and helps provide for them. He works as a laborer in the field to pay for the studies and food for her two children, 8-year-old Lester and 5-year-old Dilan. Damaris makes Q600/month ($80) weaving and Luis makes Q1,200/month ($160) in the field.

During a New Year’s Eve party at the end of 2020, Lester was setting off celebratory fireworks. Due to his young age, he accidentally put what is called a “chiltepito” in his pants pocket where he had placed other chiltepitos. The fireworks caught fire in his pocket and left him with 3rd degree burns on his leg. As a result, he was transferred to the hospital for an emergency skin graft transplant surgery. The family’s economic situation worsened since they then had to spend their money on expensive ointments and healing agents to treat Lester’s burns.

29-year-old Olga spends her days weaving traditional Guatemalan fabrics, earning a meager Q600 ($80) a month to support her three children, 12-year-old Jazmin, and her 8-year-old twins Estuardo and Fernando. When she was pregnant with her daughter Jazmin, Olga’s husband was brought before the local court for murder, which made it very difficult on her family and her ability to cope alone during her pregnancy. Her parents supported her during that time. She stopped seeing her husband while he was in prison because she had no way to visit him. While incarcerated, he sent friends from the same village they lived in to threaten her. After the threats continued, Olga knew she had to move her family to a new area so they would not be harmed.

Before a group of excited volunteers arrived to build new homes, both families lived in very humble houses made of reeds, laminate, and a dirt floor. They approached Nuestros Ahijados to discuss the possibility of new homes for their families. After a couple of home visits by our social workers, it was determined that both families were eligible.

 Their dreams came true when a small ServiceTeam from various parts of the United States arrived during the early part of July to build them their new homes. “They were like angels sent down from heaven”, said Olga. After three grueling days of digging 2-foot trenches, hand-mixing cement, laying a cinderblock foundation, cutting wood, and nailing on the walls and roof, a bright blue 12x16 foot house stood for Olga and Damaris’s families. Both mothers were elated to have a safe and dignified home where their children could sleep, eat, learn, and grow. It would be a home that would protect them from the harsh rains of the rainy season here in Guatemala.

There are countless more houses to be built for families in need, and we cannot build them without your continued love, compassion, and support. Please visit www.GodsChild.org to learn more about how you can be involved and start planning your own home-building experience.

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The Alonzo Camey Family lives in Parrojas, the Vista Hermosa village of Parramos, Chimaltenango, 7,150 feet up a mountain in a house that was made of plastic, dry corn cane, metal sheets, wooden support beams, and dirt floors. They have no electricity, cook over wood, and shared one bed. The father Angel takes care of his three girls, 9-year-old Yesica, 8-year-old Josselin, and 6-year-old Melanie Yesenia. Angel was left to look after his three beautiful daughters on his own after his wife passed away 6 years ago from a heart attack. He says life has never been the same for the family since their mother passed, but that each day he continues to fight for the girls and give them the best life he can.

Señor Angel, who is 30 years old, works tirelessly in the fields to provide for his daughters and, in order to support the family a little more, he also works side jobs to provide a extra food, clothing, and essentials for them. The death of his wife has made it much more difficult to make enough of a living to take care of her children.

Angel approached Asociación Nuestros Ahijados to inquire about a house because during the night it gets extremely cold up on the mountain as the wind blows right through the corn stalks and leaves the family, especially his young daughters, prone to illness. His dream came true when a ServiceTeam from various parts of the United States arrived at the end of February to finance and build the home, side by side with Asociación Nuestros Ahijados and the family itself. After three grueling days of digging 2-foot trenches, hand-mixing cement, laying a cinderblock foundation, cutting wood, and nailing on the walls and roof, a bright blue 12x16 foot house stood for Angel, Yesica, Josselin, and Melanie.

The ServiceTeam consisted of health care workers and long-time volunteers from North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and each and everyone of them was so humbled by this experience to be able to build a new future for a family that has suffered so much. What struck this group the most was that despite all of the family’s struggles, they have maintained a positive attitude and smiles on their faces. When the group wasn’t building, they were found blowing bubbles, coloring, or putting together puzzles with the three little girls. For these volunteers it is a monumental blessing to be able to give Yesica, Josselin and Melanie a new home, new bunk beds, toys, and groceries. They were more than happy to donate a little bit of their time and resources for a family in such great need.

There are so many more houses to be built for families in need, and we cannot build them without your continued love, compassion, and support. Please visit www.GodsChild.org to learn more about how you can be involved and organize your own home-building team.

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If you have ever come down with a ServiceTeam to Guatemala, chances are you have built a “Casa Azul” for a family in desperate need. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has been shut down for months on end, preventing ServiceTeams from coming down and making their impact. Many of you who had planned to be with us this year have asked how you can still help from afar. This story is a shining example of how one person’s generosity and burning desire to help the poor changed the lives of a family of eight.

After receiving a one-time donation large enough to build a house from a dedicated supporter of The GOD’S CHILD Project, thus began the process of identifying which family had the greatest need for a new home. Despite not being able to physically come build homes, this amazing donor took it upon herself to make sure home-building continued with the ServiceTeam program put on hold.

Before the pandemic, our social workers had visited a number of families who had requested a new home. Each visit consists of an extensive evaluation of a family’s living situation and the suitability of the land where the house will be constructed. After several home visits by the ANA staff, we decided the Canrey family had the greatest need.

The Canrey family lives in Alotenango, a small town located just 5 miles in the shadows of the imposing and marvellous Volcanoes Fuego and Acatenango. The family is made up of Doña Amabilia, aged 25, her three sons; José (10), Estuardo (5), and Fernando (2), and, their grandparents, Juan and Berta. Also living with the family are two more relatives, Danny, Amabilia’s brother and his wife, Lesbia.

Doña Amabilia entered into a relationship at a very young age and decided to go live with her partner in the northern region of Peten, where she lived for a number of years. Unfortunately, her husband was an alcoholic, which many times led to Amabilia falling victim to his physical abuse. After a while, Amabilia decided enough was enough, leaving her partner to return to Alotenango where she and her children would be safe.

Recent years have been an uphill battle for Doña Amabilia as a single mother who has to work to support her three sons and her parents with food and living costs. The children’s grandmother takes care of them while their mother sells fruit in the market. Amabilia earns around Q1500 ($200) a month to support her family. Her mother suffers from diabetes and needs medicine, which they can’t always afford, to keep her sugar levels balanced.

Their house is made of sheet metal, wooden posts, and plastic tarps with nothing but dirt for the floor. There were three beds inside, each one separated by hanging blankets so as to give a bit of privacy to the eight family members living in such a small space. With so many crammed inside this one place, it is nearly impossible for the Canrey’s to keep things organized. Clothes were scattered and mixed everywhere without a suitable piece of furniture to store them all. Their water supply was in the form of two big blue barrels where you could notice larva and various insects floating around, water that is not safe for anybody to be drinking or bathing with. The wooden fire stove was in first room to the left as you walked in, sitting dangerously close to a few of the wooden posts that were helping keep the house upright, and putting the family at great risk of their house burning down. The wood burning stove also posed a threat to the Canrey’s health, with smoke filling the house, and then their lungs, each time they cooked a meal.

Having seen the conditions of their home first-hand, our ANA staff decided that they were the family with the most need and so they delivered the building materials and tools straight away to begin two intense days of construction. They were joined by members of the extended Canrey family who observed and helped the construction work. A house build during the pandemic means all-hands on deck, and so Hector, Henio, Kevin, Saul, Rodolfo, Robbie, and Brendan came together to put their years of experience and several hundreds of homes under their belts to the test.

In the afternoon of day 1, the rainy season reared its head and brought 45 minutes of torrential downpour as the ANA team and members of the Canrey family scrambled to mix cement and finish laying the new floor. The uneven land and holes in the roof of the home that came as a result of falling rocks and ash from the June 2018 eruption of Volcano Fuego highlighted the urgent need for a new home with a level cement floor. Ten minutes after the rain had begun, water began to seep into the Canrey home and turn the dirt floor into mud. Using cement blocks to divert the water away from the house and cement mix, the ANA staff, soaked to the skin, continued until they had finished the job.

On day 2, it became apparent that the cement floor would need another smaller layer to smoothen it out, as the rain continued for another five hours after the team left for the day. After the storms on day one, the ANA staff made sure to arrive earlier on the second day, departing the Dreamer Center at 7am, to make sure the house was complete before the rain could jeopardize the safety of the family once again.

After another day of solid teamwork of sawing wood, installing the frame, putting up the walls, and nailing on the roof, the Canrey’s house was nearly complete, but not before Jose, Estuardo, and Fernando helped the ANA team slap a fresh coat of our signature blue paint onto their brand new home.

A light rain began to fall once again as the ANA staff handed over the latest house to a family that would make it their home. This time however, there was a new roof to keep them dry.

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The López family has now had a place to stay for 6 months, but they certainly haven't had a home. Where they were living could hardly even be called a house. It was on the front porch of another house with two sheet metal walls and two blanket 'walls'. The family was exposed to the elements and at serious risk of illness.

 

We have been supporting the López family for a number of years now. First, when they arrived at our Santa Madre Homeless Shelter in late 2018. Then when the two youngest daughters, Heidy and Eva, were child-patients in our Casa Jackson Hospital for malnourished babies from February 2019 to July 2019.

 

This year, Omar, Damaris, Cristian and Heidy are all studying in our schools. Omar is in the Scheel Center, Damaris is in the Hermano Pedro Special School and Cristian and Heidy are at The Dreamer Center. Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced school closures, we are still providing distance learning to our students. The children's mother, Doña Eva, is a member of the Club de Madres (Mothers' Club) and regularly receives vegetables, clothes, and an 'Amor en Caja' box of food supplies during the current pandemic.

 

During the COVID pandemic we received a donation big enough from a generous donor to allow us to build a ‘Casa Azul’ house for a family, and we chose the López family because they had the greatest need. Right away, we began preparations to build them their very own house.

 

The day our building team arrived to being construction, you could see the excitement in the eyes of the children. Our Guatemalan staff worked as a solid and experienced team through the sun and rain to build the Lopez family their house in just 2 days, while the family's children helped as our team’s ‘building assistants’ by delivering the correct tools when needed. At the end of the second day, the family painted the house with our signature blue. It was hard work but completely worthwhile as together we worked to change this family's life for the better.

 

The Lopez’s were finally going to have a place they could call their own and take pride in. No longer would they have to worry about braving the elements while trying to sleep at night or about their homework getting ruined.

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Imagine you live in the slums of San Felipe, Guatemala. Your house consists of several metal sheets and thatched palm. There are holes in the roof and the floor you live on is dirt. When it rains, the water leaks through into the house and turns the dirt into mud. You leave your toddler for a minute to move your family’s clothes to some place dry in the house and he starts playing in the mud without any shoes. Your bed becomes soaked and the house, a mud pit. With the mud full of parasites and bacteria, there is the chance your child develops a sickness – any money you had saved up was put towards food and diapers, leaving you little to nothing to spend on medications and/or medical care if he falls ill. You are a single mother that works hard to keep your child fed and have no other relatives around to help.

 

This was the reality for the family portrayed in these pictures. The floors were dirt, the walls and roof contained holes, and there was little room for light to enter the home. Nevertheless, the family seemed content and you would never hear them complain about a thing. But the fact of the matter is, the living conditions were extremely inadequate for a child to grow up and learn in. In 3 days, we were able to gift them a new home and a newfound sense of safety, security, confidence, and comfort with the aid of a building group from the United States. The members of the ServiceTeam left feeling humbled and astounded by the immense gratitude expressed by the family.

 

Approximately 31% of houses have dirt floors in Guatemala, a number that skyrockets to 59% among the poor. A cement floor, adequate roofing, and sufficient lighting are luxuries for most. At The GOD’S CHILD Project, it is part of our mission to turn these luxuries into guarantees through our house building program. With the help of our dedicated ServiceTeams and volunteers, we have been able to provide thousands of new homes for struggling families, providing a strong foundation for a start to a better life and future.

 

We could not carry out this great work without your love and support. Please continue to keep the children and mothers we support in your hearts and consider donating to our cause so we can build more beautiful futures.

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The GOD'S CHILD Project

Location: Bismarck, ND - USA
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Project Leader:
RINA LAZO
Director of Benefactor Services
Antigua, Sacatepequez Guatemala
$10,440 raised of $23,000 goal
 
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