Meet The Families
Who are you helping?
Something happens when you stop looking at the world in terms of numbers, circumstances, or nameless faces. Once you know more about them, you realize that there is a face behind the number; there is a story behind the circumstance. Humanitarian Build has committed to help change the fate of four families in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. I had the opportunity to meet each of these families and to talk to them about their circumstances. Below is a very brief introduction to these wonderful people
“Together with the Humanitarian Build and people like you, we are looking forward to helping to change the future for many more families like that of Elias and Jocelyn in Aguas Negra. We hope you will join us!”
~ Christal Earle, Co-Founder and Chief Spokesperson, absolute.org
Angel Domingue Family
Perhaps one of the best things about what we are doing in Puerto Plata is the fact that we are not just talking about how sad a situation is – we are choosing, together, to do something significant to change it. Angel and his wife, Angela (very fitting names if you take the time to get to know them) have six children. Four of them live with them in their current house.
Life has never been easy for their family. Like many of their neighbours in Aguas Negras, Angel and Angela have had to eke out a living on wages that seem almost unfathomable. Together, they bring in 3500 pesos a month (approximately $100 CAD)….
…Angel is a street cleaner and his wife tries to find odd jobs to help supplement their income. They are unable to do anything to fix their house, and as I sat in their kitchen, I could see the sky through the holes in the roof. Angel and Angela are not young anymore, as their children range in age from 17 to 32 years of age, and the years of hard labour and poor living conditions have taken their toll on their bodies
Their family currently shares an outdoor toilet with 6 other people, and they are in need of our help. They have a 27-year old son who lives with them because he is unable to work: a moto-taxi accident at a young age has left him permanently unable to walk without crutches. His leg is withered and atrophied, and as I listened to his story, I realized that his recovery would have been fine in Canada with a simple surgery that we have access to, but here, due to lack of health care, Juan Liliano will live his life out without the use of his left leg.
The other children in the home are all in school and they help out when they can. They are all still in school because of lack of consistent access to education throughout their early childhood. In Dominican Republic, primary education is free, but students must pay for a uniform and their own books. These costs, alone, hold back many children from ever being able to complete their education.
When I sat down with Angel and Angela and explained to them about the Humanitarian Build, they smiled politely and nodded their heads. At the end of our conversation I asked them how they would feel about us building them a new home: one that was safe, clean, and with a solid roof. There was a stunned moment of silence, and then tears began to run down Angela’s cheek. “That would be a dream come true,” she said, as she smiled through her tears.
Mrs. Bonilla is a gracious and kind woman. As the head of the family, she carries a great responsibility on her shoulders, yet her eyes are always kind and her smile is always evident. The Bonilla family doesn’t really fit the typical image in your mind of what a ‘family’ looks like. There are 7 people in their home, and all 7 of them work together to find ways to keep food on the table and to keep their family safe. Some days they succeed, other days they fall short. The Bonilla family consists of one grandma, three grandsons and 4 orphans.
Their living conditions are deplorable: with a roof that has gaping holes in it, and a floor that has sunk below ground level, they are vulnerable to disease whenever it rains and the water levels in Aguas Negras begins to rise. They need our help. We don’t yet know how the children were orphaned, but we do know that in their home with their ‘grandmother’ they are happy and they are loved.
A new home for this family will mean that they can all get healthy enough to work to better provide for their family, and the boys can return to school. Together, we will be rebuilding their house from the ground up, providing them with a safe, secure home.
Miguel and Griselda have two children, Angel (10) and Grismel (4). Together, they do their best to keep their kids in school and safe. However, money is hard to come by and they are unable to afford to fix the innumerable problems with their current home:
- A roof that is continually leaking,
- A cracked and damaged cement floor,
- and flooding that plagues them each time it rains to name only a few.
Miguel is a refrigerator repairman, but is having a hard time finding enough work. Griselda has severe tachycardia and circulatory problems, and she is unable to work outside the home. Their average monthly income is approximately $100.
A new home for the Lopez family is going to mean that they can sleep easier at night knowing their family is safe, and it is a strong message to them that we believe in them and in their future as a family.
Angel and Louisa Almonte have a busy household. There are 8 people living in their home, and all of them do their best to help out. Their home is a run down wooden slat house that is currently in a low lying area that is often flooded. Their new home will be up off the ground, and will be made of cement blocks, with a smooth coat, and a roof that keeps them dry and cool.
Angel works in construction, which means he works with a shovel and pickaxe all day, labouring for less than $10 a day – and that is only when there is work available. Their children work odd jobs, but all of them are in school trying to complete their education, even though some of them are already adults.
When I interviewed them, Louisa stressed how important they felt it was for their kids to go to school. Angel and Louisa want a better life for their children, and they recognize that education will open doors that would otherwise be closed to them.
Luz Maria Garcia’s Family
Maria and her family just needed someone to believe in them.
Maria is a single mother, getting some help raising her three younger daughters from her 23 year old son. She is a kind woman, and her daughters are shy and curious about the world around them. Her son drives a moto-taxi and has a baby that he is caring for as well. Maria is currently unable to work.
Their house is along a side street in the community and has been left unfinished for longer than she can remember. Every day is a struggle to survive for her and her family as they do their best to continue to move forward. When we asked her if she would like us to build her a house for her family, Maria was incredibly excited and grateful. In fact, she didn’t quite know what to do with herself, and so she ran to a neighbour’s house and borrowed two plastic chairs to get us to sit down outside her house, as there was no room inside.
A new house for this family is going to mean the difference between two worlds for them. With a house that is clean, dry and raised up high enough from the flooding, their health will improve. Without the stress of wondering if they will be able to do any of the repairs needed on their house to just keep the rain out, they will be able to focus on the future and on education for the girls.
Maria Silverio’s Family
This is an exciting project site, as it is on completely raw land within the community. The land belongs to a woman who is a teacher at the community school. She was one of the first community members to take the step to invest her life in the children there. She started out volunteering with the school because there was no money for salaries. She did it because she believes it the future she can help to create. She is now being paid a salary of around $150 CAD per month, and she is still just as passionate about why she is doing what she is.
Her mother and younger sister will be joining her in this new house, and together, they will be safe, dry and much better off. This house will be a dream realized for each of them and it will be exciting to see them so much better off!