The Publication of Habitat for Humanity International | February/March 2001
Samanalagama, Sri Lanka
A.B. Chandralatha was born into a brutal cycle of poverty. I was born poor, she says, and I had to marry in the same condition. Married at age 15 to lessen the burden on her family, Chandralatha and her husband, Chandrasena, a laborer, currently live in a house with no foundation and crumbling walls. The family earns 1,000 Sri Lankan rupees (a little over $12US) a month. Despite their poverty, the family has hope as they work on their Habitat house. We realize the value of a house as we get wet in the rain, explains Chandralatha, who travels as far as seven miles to get water used to make cement blocks for their house. [Before], owning a house was only a dream, but now it has become a reality.
Chandralatha and her family moved into their new Habitat house last December.
A constant fear of thieves and never-ending maintenance on his familys thatch and mud house are two worries that haunt Prem Bahadur Thakula. The walls of his familys house have to be coated with a fresh mud and manure mixture every two weeks; the entire structure must be rebuilt every 18-24 months. Thakula heard of Habitat when a neighbors house was built. Constructed of brick and mortar, with concrete plaster on the walls and floor and a cement tile roof, that house represented lasting security for his neighbor. Thakula longed for the same for his own family.
Thakulas Habitat house is currently under construction. As he works his sweat equity hours, Thakula is grateful that this time, his hard work will last.
Las Pias, Philippines
When Remedios and Vergilio Abellos imagine a new life in a Habitat house, they envision security. Presently, the Abelloses and their six children (five of whom have families of their own) live in a makeshift shack on land borrowed from a man who lives in the United States. The Abelloses worry constantly about the day the absentee owner will force them to find another place large enough for their family and their hog farm. It is hard when you always anticipate the time when you will be evicted, says Remedios. Their house is made of used iron sheets and flimsy wood. Even though the house sits on stilts, water still seeps in when the area floods. Once we have our new house, we will no longer fear eviction or floods, says Remedios. We will take care of that house because we labor for it.
The Abellos family is scheduled to move into their new home this spring.
Waritzan, Papua New Guinea
Despite its idyllic location, Papua New Guinea faces tough housing challenges. Natural materials are difficult to gather and a tropical climate wreaks havoc on traditionally built shelters. For Eku Jacob, a subsistence farmer, gathering the timber and grass for his house is a never-ending task. When he can leave his crops, he walks long distances to search for building materials. Eku and his wife, Gemisa, are in their 50s and the prospect of continually rebuilding is a source of anxiety as they grow older and resources become more scarce. A sturdy Habitat house will significantly ease their worries.
The Jacobs have served as volunteers for the Omang affiliate since its founding in 1993 and plan to continue even after their house is complete.
For seven years, Roslyn Hamlin and her four children were on a waiting list for public housing. During those years, Roslyn moved from one property to another, seeking an affordable living situation. By the ages of 15 and 13, Roslyns two oldest children had attended 10 different schoolsa result of their frequent moves. The familys last rental house was continually damp, resulting in mold that was a special health hazard to 6-year-old Aiden, who suffers from cystic fibrosis. Roslyns years of waiting came to an end when she qualified for a Habitat house that will include wheelchair ramps for Aiden.
Roslyn Hamlin has named their new house Believe, saying, You can believe in anything, and it will come true.
U.S./Canada stories reported/written by: Pat Curry, Rebekah Graydon, Jan Makepa, Milana McLead
Latin America/Caribbean stories reported/written by: Pamela Burrell, Debbie Falk, Rebekah Graydon, Sinikka Henry, Flix Lozno, Linda MacMillan, Milana McLead
Asia/Pacific stories reported/written by: Claire Algarme, Pam Carter, Chip Martin, Shirantha Perera, Angel Porteous, Meredith Tutumang
Europe/CIS stories reported/written by: Charlie Barnes, Tina Fellows, Armin Hecht, Rhonda Krol, Milana McLead, Jane Silverman
Africa/Middle East stories reported/written by: Rebekah Graydon, Tilly Grey, Karan Kennedy, Nayiga Victoria
Reprinted from Habitat World Magazine, February/March 2001.
This article may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
©2001 Habitat for Humanity International
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