The troubling parts of the former house were the animals and bugs that would crawl out of the dirt part of the floors, says Bernardo Arroyo, single father of two in Wilmington, Calif. Before, our goal was not to get killed, to stay out of the way of the neighbors, just to stay warm, and try not to blow up the place.
The biggest concern was that we would get shot or that our house would blow up because of the gas leaking from the stove. We overcame it and learned to live with it and just be careful. Our most frequent struggles were not having proper power to be able to run the computer my daughter worked all summer to buy, and having to turn the gas on and off every time we needed to cook something.
When I first learned that I would build a Habitat house, I couldnt believe something that good could happen to us, that we would be able to take showers and cook with a normal stove and not worry that if we took too long, our house would explode. Its all safe. We are proud to have friends over and eat together as a family.
I feel better at work knowing that my kids are safe and happy and that it is not too late for them to enjoy their childhoods. They will be better students and feel good about coming home with friends. Our family will be happier together. I have always been close to my kids because we needed to be. I am happier now, and that affects my kids in a good way. My kids and I learned to trust others and see that not everyone is out there just to help themselves.
[To the volunteers], thank you so much for showing us that strangers can love one another without even knowing one another first. There really are good people out there.