International Program Nov. 22, 2022

Your Global Neighbour: Magdalena’s story

Your support helps us not only build houses – your support also helps us build stronger lives around the world.

Magdalena, her husband, their six children and two daughter-in-laws are the proud owners of a new Habitat home in the community of Tzanchaj, Santiago Atitlán, Sololá. 

The family used to live in a one-room house built from cornstalks, a dirt floor and a roof made of corrugated metal sheets. The family prepares and sells meals to make a living. For Magdalena, who has always cooked over an open flame on the floor, a new stove has meant that the family now has space to cook everything at the same time, can save money because the new stove consumes less wood, and no longer risk red eyes and respiratory diseases that a home full of smoke can cause.

In addition to the new smokeless stove, Magdalena, her husband Juan, and their children Diego (22), Mercedes (18), Juan (16), Miguel (13), Paulina (9), María (5) also have access to proper sanitation with a bathroom and a water filter for clean water. Before, they had to deal with frequent health issues because of unsafe water that had to be boiled.

When asked how they feel with their new house, Magdalena responds smiling,

“We feel happy and satisfied with our house! Mercedes is happy with her room. We struggled a lot to get the house done, but we did it as a family. Now, the reward is great!”

This home and many others have been built alongside this community with a goal of being safe and accessible for families that have persons living with disabilities. When the family found out about this project, they wanted to participate and helped with construction to build their home.

We focus on working with families with disabilities because while we believe a safe place to call home is foundational for a better life, to truly thrive we need to ensure new Habitat homeowners have the tools they need to build healthier, more financially stable lives.

That’s why Habitat Canada partners with Habitat Guatemala, Hope and Healing and the Association of Parents and Friends of People with Disabilities (ADISA). ADISA (Association of Parents and Friends of People with Disabilities) is a local non-profit that provides programs in healthcare, education, employment and social empowerment. Eighteen-year-old Mercedes participates in training workshops from ADISA that are designed to support her with more economic opportunities and break barriers for people living with a disability so that they can be active individuals in their community. When asked what she wants to do, Mercedes answers: “I would like to work in an office as an executive. I would also like to sell beauty products.”

As part of an international organization that works in almost 70 countries, we’re thankful that we can rely on generous donors to make a difference in people’s lives in Canada and around the world. Through our Global Neighbours initiative, we partner with local Habitats and other community partners around the world to build and repair homes, provide safe water and sanitation solutions as well as offer skills training and financial education.

Learn more about how we’re making a difference around the world: