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When ruins turn to hope

September 9, 2010




Elvira’s home had burned to the ground in just 15 short minutes.




Now she has new hope, however, thanks to support from Habitat for Humanity.


DOMINICAN REPUBLICOctober 31, 2009 was a significant turning point in the life of Elvira Lebron Diaz. Until then, the single mother felt she was a strong, active woman who had raised her four children by the sweat of her brow, two of whom are now adults with their own homes.

That morning, however, was different. While Elvira was working as a domestic employee in another family’s home, she received a phone call. “Elvira,” said the voice at the other end of the line, “your house burned to the ground in just 15 minutes, come quick.” The news left Elvira astounded. “I felt that my life had left me,” she says between tears. The two children still living at home had managed to escape through the window unharmed.

“After receiving the call, I cried and I opened my Bible to the book of Job, where it says, ‘The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away,’ and I told myself the same.” She talked about how difficult her life had become since the fire. She had lost more than a house; she had also lost several products from her livelihood of selling products for women, in addition to money that she had made from recent sales. “I always thought about the future. That’s why I continued to move forward, together with my children,” she said.

Elvira explored her options, both with government assistance and private companies, hoping to gather just enough resources to finish a small construction alongside the destroyed house. Nothing panned out. “It was like starting from scratch,” she said. More than 20 years of work had turned to ashes.

One morning a neighbor told her about Habitat for Humanity’s work in her community. Elvira says she felt it was the answer that she had been asking God for. “I felt like a little kid that had asked for bread from her father and was satisfied. Thank you God, for you are with me!”

Today, Elvira has new hope. “I had lost my love for life,” she says. She says that now she is focused on the future again, on the construction of her new home and the possibility of enjoying a healthy life again under a simple, secure roof—one that is concrete block rather than wood, and less vulnerable to fires.

When asked her opinion of Habitat for Humanity, she responds, “For me, Habitat is a friendly hand to the poor, helping to transform the lives of people like me who have lost hope.”

The project in Elvira’s community of El Bagazo in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic is made possible by support from “Servicio Latinoamericano, Africano y Asiático de Vivienda Popular” or SELAVIP, an organization focused on working in communities exposed to extreme vulnerabilities.

To learn more about Habitat for Humanity in Latin America and the Caribbean, click here.