You all have probably heard the universal line “there’s no place like home.” Well, the Wizard of Oz said it best: there really is no better place than home. For most, home is more than just four walls and a roof over your head, it is a place of safety and comfort. When the average person walks into their house they are able to escape from the everyday realities of life. A home should be that place for you, but for some it is not.
When we travelled to Guatemala for the first time in 2007 we went with one motive: to build homes. It was in our hearts to do work in Central America. We had contacts in Guatemala who informed us of the severe need for housing in the country. As a result, we made our first trip to see the need first hand.
There were random shacks everywhere. Walk down one dirt road and there is a tiny house, turn left, you will find three more. The shacks are spread out everywhere, made by the people and built where they felt best. To call these places “homes” is a figure of speech, because they are not homes at all. The walls are either made with pieces of metal, if you can afford it, bamboo, or used cardboard boxes. The rooms, separated by sheets and cardboard, are a combination of the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom all in one. The living conditions of the people are bad, to say the least.
“The way they live, they have to be really cold. They don’t live in a healthy environment. If we could improve their education, give the kids a better home; that’s what it’s all about. They send their kids to work and not school, because they need money for more metal for their homes”
- Juan Bonilla, Hartman House Committee Chair
Building a home for the Alvarado family was our first project. Try and envision this:
We entered the doorway that revealed a very long dark hallway. More like a tunnel. Without the door being held open to let in some light, we could not see a thing. A broken down staircase led to where another family was living. The stench, as we walked through the dark hallway, was unbearable. Rats ran up and down the narrow tunnel that led us to the Alvarado family’s front door which was only protected by a blanket. Behind the blanket was a dingy room no larger than 2’ x 4’ containing only a toilet and sink. In the corner lay a bucket, cup, and scrub brush which they used to wash themselves while the baby was bathed in the toilet. We walked through another doorway, separated by a damp cardboard wall, where the parents had their bedroom. The cardboard walls were covered in mold, but it was all that they had to keep the rain out. On the other side of the cardboard, was one large mattress shared by the three children. The area was dark and cluttered. It was a terrible situation that no human being should ever have to live with.
“Not even the worst house in the worst part of the states could look this bad”
- Julieann Hartman, Hartman House Co-Founder
When we gave the Alvarado family the keys to their new home their lives were changed forever. The look in their eyes as they entered into their newly furnished 3 bedroom house, was unforgettable. The children immediately ran to their new bedrooms to jump on their freshly built beds. We supplied them with electricity, a bathroom, food, bed sets, all of the simple utilities needed for a home. The Alvarado family’s first home was a burden and hindrance, but it was all they had. With the building of this home, Hartman House was able to give Ernesto Alvarado and his family something truly invaluable. A gift only a homeowner can relate to: that of pride and respect.
Help us build more homes for families in developing nations like Guatemala. Every little bit helps. $10 can help purchase bedding, $20 home supplies, $50 mattresses, $100 furniture, $500 cinder block walls, $1000 electricity & gas, $10,000 a home. Help us give a family the invaluable gift of a home.