Every year Goodhue County Habitat for Humanity “tithes” ten percent of all privately raised undesignated funds to support Habitat’s mission worldwide with a goal of eliminating poverty housing and homelessness. Since its inception in 1993, more than $240,500 has been pledged, supporting the construction of 71 homes. GCHFH has partnered with Guatemala, Nicaragua and our newest partner Haiti.
Habitat for Humanity in Guatemala
Established in 1979 with the purpose of improving the lives of low-income families in Guatemala through the construction of adequate, affordable housing, Habitat for Humanity Guatemala was the first Habitat organization in the Latin America and Caribbean region. Since the construction of its first home in Aguacatán, Huehuetenango over 30 years ago, Habitat Guatemala has served more than 32,218 families and has extended its work to each of the country’s 22 states.
Habitat for Humanity does much more than just build houses. Working towards a world in which every person has access to adequate housing, Habitat organizations raise awareness about the cause for adequate housing, advocate to improve housing policy, and more.
Meet the Maria Tereza Montenegro Escobar Family
Maria (58) lives with her two children, Wilfredo (23) and Berli (18) in San Benito, Petén, Guatemala. Maria is a widow. Maria earns a living washing, frying and ironing clothes for people in her community. Wilfredo has sporadic work as a truck driver and Berli is a student.
Before moving into their Habitat home, the family was living in a very small shack with about 2 meters of space for each of them. There were no divisions or rooms so they all slept in the same room. The house was made out of small sticks and pieces of board and it was not water proof at all. At times Maria takes care of her elderly father when he is sick so they would have one extra person in the house as well. They had a bathroom outside constructed of wood and their stove, which was an open fire, was outside sheltered only by a small piece of wood and lamina which was not sufficient to protect the area from any rain.
Maria heard about Habitat as one of her nieces, who lives in her community, has a Habitat home. Maria was impressed by what she heard and she quickly applied for a house for her family. The process was quick and easy and once building began, the house was constructed in just one month.
Maria is so excited about her new home. It has two bedrooms, a large lounge/kitchen area and a bathroom. The family now has plenty of space and privacy and is enjoying having separate bedrooms and a kitchen and lounge area in which they can spend time together. Maria is so pleased to have an indoor kitchen and says cooking is now a pleasure. They are very comfortable in their new home as it has cement floors which are easy to clean and the solid block walls and strong roof keep out the wind and rain and they feel safe and secure. The rest of Maria’s family live on the same plot of land and her home has become the center of activity for everyone!
Habitat for Humanity began working in Nicaragua in 1984. Under the sponsorship of the Pro-Denominational Alliance Evangelical Council, the first construction began in the community of Germán Pomares of Chinandega. Since then, families in Jinotega, Matagalpa, Estelí, León, Chinandega, Managua, Bluefields, Carazo and Rivas have built their homes with Habitat assistance.
Disaster mitigation: In order to facilitate disaster response and mitigation, Habitat Nicaragua provides technical assistance in construction systems, access to disaster-recovery related subsidies and financial intervention. The disaster response strategy includes preventative projects that mitigate the effects of natural disaster in the most vulnerable areas of the country, such as the Western and Atlantic coast regions.
Secure tenure: Habitat Nicaragua provides training and technical assistance in the legalization of land ownership. In addition, the organization helps to channel subsidies and train key actors, such as local government officials, communities, housing networks and social movements.
Housing law: Through advocacy initiatives and the strengthening the capacity of municipal governments, Habitat for Humanity Nicaragua supports the implementation, regulation and budgeting of national housing law.
Habitat for Humanity has more than 27 years of experience serving families in Haiti. Not including its disaster response program, Habitat Haiti has provided more than 2,000 families with housing solutions through a variety of initiatives including projects for new home construction, progressive building, and home improvements. It also builds capacity in construction skills, disaster mitigation and financial literacy, and works in coordination with community and government actors.
Housing Need and Accomplishments
On January 12, 2010, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 struck the Caribbean nation of Haiti just 10 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. The earthquake damaged nearly 190,000 houses, of which 105,000 were completely destroyed. Of the more than two million affected survivors, 500,000 are still displaced today.
Soon after the earthquake, Habitat set a goal of serving 50,000 families over five years, helping them move toward safe, secure and permanent places to call home.
Two years after the earthquake, Habitat has reached these key milestones:
- Over 200 permanent core houses have been built so far in the Santo community of Léogâne as part of the 2011 and 2012 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project
- More than 12,000 housing damage assessments have been conducted. These help determine which structures can be made safe and which need to be torn down.
- More than 350 houses have been repaired or rehabilitated. All repairs are designed to make the houses more resistant to future disasters.
- More than 24,500 emergency shelter kits have been distributed to those who need them most. The kits include tools- hammers, pliers, chisels, work gloves, rope and tarps to clean up debris, complete basic repairs and create emergency shelter in case of another emergency.
- More than 4,000 families have received transitional or upgradable shelters.
Habitat’s upgradable shelter is designed so concrete blocks can be added as the family’s finances improve.
- More than 3,000 Haitians have been trained in construction or construction business practices, with another 1,200 trained in financial literacy.
- More than 700 Haitian have found jobs opportunities through Habitat Haiti’s main office and Habitat Resource Centers. In a nation with an unemployment rate of 60 percent, job opportunities are a crucial part of rebuilding.