“Home is where the heart is.” This saying is true across all cultures and nations. In the Peruvian highlands south of Cusco this saying stands true, but there are real dangers for families in their homes. Traditional housing that has been used for hundreds of years has been the staple for sound construction for generations. But the traditions and materials were established out of available resources; the wind pierces through rock walls, rain penetrates straw roofs, soaking families; and openings in the walls allow vermin in. Not only were families exposed to the harsh elements of the high Andean mountains, but when they needed to bathe or go to the restroom they would have to walk across fields in the black of night, no matter if it was raining or cold. This lack of shelter from the elements exposes families to illness, and in remote areas this could mean your life.
Basilia saw these dangers and was tired of exposing her husband, Wilber, and their three daughters, Talia, Anna Lee, and Crisari, to the risks of constant disease. Recently she heard about a solution to all of her fears: the option of of joining a program to construct her very own acclimatized home that Esperança and CADEP, our partner in Peru, are bringing to the region. Basilia leapt at the chance to learn more and see if she could provide a better life than the one she had known.
When Basilia returned from the training she learned of the benefits of an acclimatized home. With thicker insulated walls, the wind would not reach the inside of their home. A tile roof would mean the rain would not wake them at night. A bathroom inside her home would end the long walks at night and would bring warm showers that the solar panels provided. With all of these great amenities there were two additional benefits that she never dreamed of. One was separate bedrooms for Basilia and Wilbur, and their children. The second was a greenhouse allowing her family to eat vegetables they never thought possible. Since the greenhouse is attached to the home, it serves not only as a way to grow vegetables but brings warm air into the home through a connecting window that can be opened and closed as needed. This option allows families to bring the temperature of their home up to 16 degrees warmer than ever possible.
This home came with the agreement of hard work. Basilia and her family committed to making the adobe bricks and learning the new ways of construction. They were not alone; the community rallied behind them and offered support. When the project was completed, Basillia offered her expertise to families who wanted homes like hers.
This tradition of sharing knowledge and labor originated with the Incas, but it helps to spread the work of Esperança, and is allowing us to transform communities.
Basilia wanted to share the following with Esperança supporters: “I am happier now, my family lives better, we are getting ahead. My children no longer get sick with colds, flus and diarrheal diseases. My house is more orderly and it is easier to keep clean. My children do their part to clean, but with more time they can now do their homework. This truly means a different life for my children.”