Habitat’s Sweat Equity Requirements Teach Partner Families Valuable Skills
Habitat for Humanity allows families to move out of substandard housing conditions and into safe, decent homes.
By Heather Wilkinson
Francisco Escobar Pérez and Leonides Mulato Castro sit around the table in their tiny one-room apartment listening to their children — 7-year-old Fabiola and 9-year-old Gerardo — sing a song that they learned in school. Francisco and Leonides borrow the room from his mother and have lived in the cramped quarters for 10 years.
Although Francisco and Leonides had tried to get credit to buy a house through other programs, they were unsuccessful until a relative who is a homeowner with the Los Tuxtlas affiliate told them about the Jimmy Carter Work Project. “It’s a dream come true to have a house of our own,” says Leonides. “Our children are excited about having their own room.”
Owning a Habitat house will truly be a blessing for Leonides who stays home to care for her son Gerardo who is developmentally delayed due to an illness he suffered as a baby. Francisco, who works at a body shop repairing cars, is looking forward to the privacy that their new Habitat home will provide. He is also glad to be able to invite guests to stay with the family — something they can’t do in their current home.
Leonides says that the sweat equity requirements not only have given them pride in their house but also have taught them valuable skills. “In the future if we need to make repairs to our house we will know how to do it ourselves.”
Francisco and Leonides have enjoyed getting to know the other partner families and sharing in the house-building experience together. “We know that it is a privilege to have been chosen to become Habitat homeowners,” says Leonides. “We hope to be able to help other families build houses with Habitat for Humanity.”