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Paraguay: Small Steps -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Paraguay: Small Steps


Don Albino Rolon Lugo


In the flatlands of Paraguay, Don Albino Rolon Lugo wakes at dawn to tend his meager crops. The 63-year-old widower works the family land and supports his mother Carmen, his daughter-in-law and his 2-year-old grandchild. Each day, he wakes with the sun to visit a densely planted field of yucca, peanuts, corn and beans. At the end of each winter, he prepares the land for replanting, taking care to cover new seeds with grass and twigs so they will survive the arduous winter.

Don Albino has lived in Finagrain since the day he was born. His sisters — and so many others — have left the community to seek job opportunities and better lives elsewhere. The nearest urban area is a mere 12 miles away, but it can feel much more isolated. “With no public transportation service that extends to the community, it’s extremely difficultto commute without a car,” says community leader Alberto Cardozo. “This is just one of the many things that would help families in Finagrain improve their quality of life without having to move to the city.”

Don Albino’s house, like most shelters in the community, is patched together with scraps of wood. The floor is dusty and unfinished, the roof frequently repaired. The family’s bathroom is an improvised latrine, a deeply dug hole only a few steps from the home that is surrounded by scraps of wood. The earth around the latrine, Don Albino says, often becomes unstable, and he is forced to move its location.

Many families in Finagrain face this same challenge. “In this community alone, at least 100 families are regularly affected by hygiene-related health problems and urgently need to improve their sanitation conditions,” says Cardozo. To meet this particular need along the path to adequate housing, Habitat Paraguay has joined forces with other organizations to launch a “Healthy Latrine” project, which partners with 46 families in its first phase to construct new bathrooms with sturdy clay bricks, cement toilets and sheet metal roofs.