Better masons, better homes

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (January 26, 2016) - Luis Ivan Gomez loves being a mason. A 30-year-old native of El Salvador, he took his first steps in the trade over a decade ago in Osicala, a town located 184 kilometers from San Salvador.

“My occupation is masonry—it sustains my family, and is something that fascinates me. It’s all about how you defend yourself, and you have to stay motivated if you want to get more jobs,” says this father of two: Daniel (7) and Ivan (1).

Though recently widowed, Luis Ivan participated in the training provided by the Center for Innovation in Shelter and Finance, Habitat for Humanity El Salvador and the Campo Foundation. The training was offered to construction workers as part of the project, “Growing the impact of housing microfinance in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

One of the project’s main objectives is to help masons improve their construction knowledge and skills, so that they, in turn, can help low-income families achieve adequate housing solutions.

“Construction workers often face obstacles in terms of accessing the technical information needed to provide safer, more cost-effective housing improvements,” says José Evenor Rios, the Campo Foundation’s chief of Planning and Territorial Management. “So, we designed these theoretical-practical workshops on topics such as assessing the construction site and storing materials.”

For Luis Ivan and 13 of his colleagues, the training was a great help. “The engineers spent a lot of time with us; they clearly had a great desire for us to learn. For example, they explained to us that it’s very important to look for quality materials, and to ensure that our work looks polished,” says Luis Ivan.

“I learned something that is fundamental for any mason,” he adds. “If you hire me for a job, and I show up with my pants all torn up… poorly dressed… I’m making a bad impression on your family. If I do the job poorly, I might earn the money, but you won’t hire me again. You have to do a good job, so that others will trust you.”

In addition to having become a certified construction worker, Luis Ivan is now sharing what he has learned with Community Development Associations, and has inspired others to join the project.

By becoming a better mason, Luis Ivan Gomez will help families achieve their dream of a safe, affordable home.