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A life-changing show of solidarity in Itapúa, Paraguay

July 21, 2009




With volunteer support from the U.S. NGO, Prints of Hope, and the Global Village program, Habitat for Humanity and partner organizations will finish 11 houses in the Jesús district of Itapúa, Paraguay.

Jesús district, Tavarangüe, Itapúa—Despite inclement weather, 58 international volunteers from Prints of Hope and Habitat’s Global Village program stood steadily alongside the first three Habitat homeowners in Paraguay’s Jesús district as they receive the keys to their new homes. The event marked the end of a visit from the volunteers, but the beginning of a life-changing new housing solution for 11 partner families.

Despite heavy rain, the volunteers successfully helped to finish the first three homes. “Habitat volunteers are committed to keep on and finish the rest,” confirms one participant.

The Jesús district sits 35 kilometers from Encarnación, and is well-known for its Jesuit ruins. The 11 partner families in this district suffer from severe poverty and have been living in small, crowded and precariously inadequate homes. Each house in this project is almost entirely subsidized.

“Habitat for Humanity has a serious commitment to every social sector in our country,” says Mary Lechenuk, National Director of Habitat Paraguay. “This does not exclude the families whose income falls below minimum wage, or even those which depend on the charity of their neighbors. We cannot yet say that we are all equal. So, Habitat for Humanity created a project, in partnership with other organizations, which would allow our housing solutions to reach those families with the highest level of need.”




Combining our efforts is key

Two years ago, the Adventist Clinic of Hohenau began a project entitled “Dejando Huellas” (leaving footprints), in partnership with the U.S.-based NGO, Prints of Hope. Later, Habitat for Humanity Paraguay, along with the local and municipal governments, joined the partnership.

Together, these organizations carried out a family selection process in the Jesús district, giving priority to families with the most urgent housing needs. On July 3, 2009, construction began on the 11 homes, which would represent a notable change in the quality of life for each family.

“It’s exciting; it’s beautiful that a person can live better because others come along with a life-changing message. To build these homes is to see the beginning of change,” says Oscar Tapia of the Adventist Clinic.

Each year, Prints of Hope unites youth from different countries to participate in international service trips. In past years they have visited countries such as Perú, Jamaica and Costa Rica. A team of 39 young people from the United States, Australia, Canada and Ireland have led the organization’s second trip to Paraguay. Although they had to endure heavy rain and mud, their visit to Paraguay seems to have been an unforgettable one. “It is one of the loveliest experiences we have ever had—we thought that we’d come to help these families, but in the end it’s them who have helped us. We found people with open arms, and learned that by working together we can accomplish much more than we can alone,” expresses Ariel Sosa, Prints of Hope volunteer.

The municipality of Jesús also offered constant support to the project throughout the week. “Here, there is love towards the community,” expressed one volunteer. In one example of their support, the government provided machinery to help level the land for construction.

Habitat for Humanity Paraguay provided technical assistance for the construction of the 11 houses, as well as materials and volunteer assistance from Habitat staff, local volunteers and the 19 North American Global Village team members, who willingly took on the various masonry tasks of construction in Paraguay.

“The most important thing about this experience is the sum of the efforts that have been made by various organizations to find solutions to housing issues. This is the path that we should be taking,” concluded Roberto Zub, Board president for Habitat Paraguay.

Some of the partner families also shared their thoughts during the event, expressing emotional thanks for their new home.

For more Information about Habitat Paraguay, visit their online profile.

By Ami Cabrera, Communications Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity Paraguay.

Photos courtesy of Habitat Paraguay.