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The Tique Family

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Tique Family House Before

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Tique Family House After

As we get out of the car to see one of the houses recently built by Habitat in Chimoio, we almost don’t see the lady lying on the reed mat on the ground. She is behind the house and is almost entirely hidden under a blanket. Candida is one of the twenty percent of the population in this region of Mozambique who have fallen victim to HIV/AIDS. Now she is dying. She has bad tremors and sores on her arms and is clearly in distress. Candida looks so thin and old that we assume she is the grandmother of the children who are around us. In fact she is their mother. Some volunteers from our partner organization in Chimoio, Kubatsirana, sit down and attend to Candida. They know her well, as they’ve been supporting her through the illness, together with her six children, whose father has already been snatched from them by this deadly disease.

Now the children are going through the unimaginable trauma of losing a parent all over again. Tina, one of the daughters, doesn’t always go to school. She knows she should, but it’s hard to argue with her reasoning: ‘I’d rather stay here with my mum’, she says. But the family is not suffering alone. Candida’s sister, Teresa, is visiting every day and helping take care of the Tique Family. She will continue to look after the children when their mother passes away.

Until recently, one of the family’s urgent needs was shelter. When the children’s father died 5 years ago, survival became a struggle. Without his income, there was not even enough food to go around, let alone money for rent. The eldest son, Tomás, was only 18, but did his best to provide for the family; he built them a house from mud and wattle. Unfortunately, it was not strong enough to keep out the wind and the rain. “We suffered a lot,” says Tomás, who remembers sometimes taking refuge at Teresa’s house.

But there is hope for this family. In spite of the tragedy that lies before them, the children and their Aunt Teresa seem in remarkably good spirits. We are talking to them on the impressive veranda of their new, two bedroom house. Fortunately, their father had bought a plot of land before he died, so it was not difficult for Habitat for Humanity to obtain a ‘land use declaration’ from the local Government Administration, to ensure the children’s inheritance would be protected.

The house is approximately 200 sq. feet and is made of fired red bricks, finished with plaster. It has two sizeable bedrooms, which enables the boys to sleep separately from the girls. It also has a living room, which now boasts a dining table and chairs, and has pictures and ornaments on the wall. It has the feel of a family home. The roof is made of zinc, which is extremely durable and shields the house from the rain. The windows have mosquito nets, providing the children with good protection against malaria. Habitat for Humanity has also built a latrine, from concrete and bricks. The surface is washable and therefore hygienic, which will improve the health of the family by reducing the potential spread of disease.

The house is one of an initial 30 to be built under Habitat’s Orphans and Vulnerable Children project in Chimoio, which is principally being funded by USAID. Approximately 120 children and young people will benefit from improved housing in this first round of construction. Habitat’s partner, Kubatsirana, will address many of their physical and emotional needs.

They are all very grateful for their new house. ‘Thanks be to God’ says Teresa, ‘He has helped us a lot. God is great! I’m so happy that the children are living in a good place now. When it was finished, I couldn’t stop crying with joy!’