Maria Marciala Lopez and her family live in a simple neighborhood of San Antonio Aguas Calientes, which is a town in the department of Sacatepequez , of mainly indigenous population. The main bread winner in this family of eleven is Maria’s husband who is always at work. He works as a mason. Maria tries to contribute to the family’s income selling the tortillas she prepares daily at home, and weaves any moment of the day when the family doesn’t demand her attention.
Maria Marciala, at the age of 47, and her husband, 52 years old, have nine children; five daughters and four sons. Maria’s father, who looks at us with curiosity as we enter their yard and greets us with a genuine smile while shaking hands, lives in the same house of three rooms. Their oldest is 25 years old while the youngest child is 6 years old. “If we had no children, we would have been able to save a little. But we wanted many children”, says Maria. “So we have to work harder for it. My husband has to work more, you know? As they grow up, they need more things. Sometimes it is school supplies, sometimes clothes. Sometimes they ask for money, and I give one quetzal. As they compare it to what some other kids get, they want more”, she smiles. “It is not good to teach them to receive everything ready”, she says. “They have to learn to make a living.” This is probably one of the reasons why this family is one of our favorites. It was also one of the first families we were able to help ten years ago, in our early days.
Maria says she is happier since they moved into their new home. She explains that it is warmer and safer. When the house is made of cane ‘walls’, the water enters from all sides. One has to change these ‘walls’ every two years. “A Constru Casa house is different. With a house like this, the construction lasts forever” she continues. “Additionally, when you have a house, you take care of it. You fix what is needed, you clean it. I also ask my children to clean the house regularly, so they learn to take care of it.” She is very proud they that have paid their own 25% monetary contribution after the house was constructed and admits this also to their neighbors.
What makes this family so special is their attitude and their vision. “We are poor”, she says. ”But my husband and I want our children to study!” They have tried to give their children at least some years of education. She is of the opinion they have to work and pay for their own education if they want to continue further.She explains that her daughters weave and her sons help their father in construction, but some of them continue to study even if this means taking evening classes to go back and complete high school. Maria’s oldest daughter would like to have her own business in the very near future, a shop which sells the typical clothes that she and her mother and sisters are able to make.
Asked whether living in the house that Constru Casa helped them with made it easier for them to focus on having other plans, one of Maria’s oldest daughter answers “Of course! One doesn’t have to worry if it is cold, or rainy, or if we get sick. We don’t have to think of some of the basic needs. We don’t have to try to save for these things. Having this house, we are able to focus on other plans.” Smiling and with pride Maria says “We have even had celebrations here! My daughter had two parties here last year!” Maria and her husband’s new project for the coming months is adding two additional rooms to their ConstruCasa house, little by little, when the finances are available. Father and sons have already started the foundations. “The house makes many things possible” says Maria. “This is why we want to add two more rooms.”