The simple things in life
By Janell Meador
Camila was scarred by boiling water before she was one year old. Her mother had to build a fire on the dirt floor to cook their meals, and baby Camila could not resist pulling at the handle of the pot, easily within her reach. Camila and her older sister, Georgina, lived under a tin roof, surrounded by walls made of cardboard with their mother, Guillermina, and father, Carlos. Always worried for their safety, Carlos hardly slept for fear thieves would take what little they possessed or vandals would torch their dwelling.
In February of 2013, the family was selected as a recipient of a Casita Linda home. Built by Casita Linda with help from Carlos, their home has two bedrooms, a small sala, a kitchen set up in the large, covered porch, and a gravel-covered garden area. The land is their own, given by Mario, Guillermina’s father, who is still working on details for the house. He is building a wall and a door to enclose their garden area, improving their security. The girls have their own bedroom, their house has walls made of stone, and the door has a lock. Carlos is finally beginning to sleep at night.
Before the family had this home, “Our floors were either dust or mud,” says Guillermina. “No matter how hard I worked, I couldn’t keep my girls clean.” A big problem was water. Having no access to running water, Guillermina needed to buy it from the delivery trucks, but the drivers were reluctant to leave water. They expected the family to have a Rotoplás tinaca. Unfortunately, although the family had saved and purchased one, it had been stolen. Guillermina had only a large garbage pail with a lid in which to store the water.
“I never thought my children would live in a home – it seemed like it would take so long for us to ever build a house,” says Guillermina. “Now we have a home to hand down to our children. If anything should ever happen to us, this is still their house.”
Carlos has worked as a security guard for almost four years. When he arrives home, Camila climbs into his lap and snuggles contentedly. “For me it is all about my daughters,” says Carlos. “Now they will have a better life.” Guillermina’s prayer for her girls is that they be able to attend school and possibly have careers. Seven-year-old Georgina attends school where her favorite class is computers. “She wants to be an artist,” says her mother. “But it is ok if she changes her mind.” Pretty, petite Georgina says her new house makes her feel safe, and she is comfortable in the bedroom she shares with her sister.
The family has a doghouse in a fenced off section of their property and a place to dry their laundry. They have decorated the outdoor wall with plants, and the girls have a playhouse. Carlos has painted a mural of a flower on one of the walls. Although the living room of their house has no furniture, Carlos, Guillermina, and the girls sit happily together on the porch, on a small metal bench. They are all smiles, projecting a feeling of well-being and security, at last. One of Guillermina’s favorite things about their new house is that she no longer has to worry whether or not she has dry wood to build a fire. “We can always have breakfast together,” she says. Like a family.
Casita Linda, A.C. is a Mexican non-profit organization founded in 2001. Our primary goal is to construct simple decent housing for people in extreme poverty. For further information, please visit our website at: www.casitalinda.org