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The Milfords and the Mariakuttys

Two families from different worlds find a common language in a shared dream

©Habitat for Humanity International/Ezra Millstein

Chick and Cindy Aiguier Milford recently traveled from their home in South Boston, Mass., to Kerala in southwestern India to help build a Habitat for Humanity house with Mariakutty Chacko, a widow with two grown sons. While building together, the Milfords and the Mariakuttys discovered their similarities far outnumber all their differences in language and culture.

For families everywhere, security begins with owning a decent home. It is a universal dream.

Chick Milford is a project superintendent in commercial construction, and Cindy is an interior designer. Married for 17 years, the Milfords gravitate toward “vacations” that allow them to do something constructive while exploring cultures on a deeper, more meaningful level than typical tourists. After going on three adventures with Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village program — to Kenya in 2001, Paraguay in 2005 and Vietnam in 2008 — the Milfords were eager to help build in India.

Mariakutty Chacko had been living with her sons in an old house with a sagging roof that became more dangerous with every typhoon season. She is a skilled seamstress and also grows cardamom and pepper on her one-acre plot of land to earn income. Both of her sons contribute to the family’s finances by working as casual laborers. The proud family had saved enough to begin construction on a safe, decent home, and they welcomed the Milfords and the Global Village team to help them build on that foundation.

After only a few days of working together, one family accomplishes its dream of homeownership, and another returns to its home more than 8,000 miles away. For both families, the experience is profound and life-changing. That’s why we build.

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