I WANT MY DAUGHTERS TO BE PROUD OF ME
We first encountered 19 year old Eli Burgos in January 2012, just three days before we were due to break ground on our first building project. Eli was orphaned at 7 years old and the community leader in Barrio Blanco took her in. This is Eli's picture from when we met with her 3 year old charmer, Elianny and new baby Arianny.
Two days later we learned of Eli's predicament from others. Eli was married to Elianny's father, and she had JUST given birth to Arianny one week before. Her husband had just left her. With nothing.
Eli and her husband had been renting a $50 monthly hovel that was filled with 2 FEET of water. We saw it. It had rained the day before, so this was not uncommon. Worse still, she had no income at all, and no ability to pay rent.
When we heard of her circumstance, we shared it with a most generous donor who told us to do whatever it would take to get land and begin building ahome for Eli's small family.
The next day we told Eli the good news. We had a home donor for her! She was incredulous. Two days later we saw Eli and she asked to talk. She was crying! Why?
All families we build homes for are required to provide their strongest worker to build the project's homes. Eli had no strong worker. She had asked her (former) husband to work and he refused unless he received title to the home. She knew this dashed her momentary dreams. Her thoughts ran to becoming a street prostitute to feed her daughters.
That night we had a meeting with our construction crew: 11 strong workers who were ready to break ground the next day. We explained Eli's situation, and that we had a donor for materials for a home for her. We asked the other workers if they would accept Eli as her family's strong worker. Even though she wasn't a man and still recovering from childbirth, the crew unanimously agreed that Eli was in.
First, Eli needed shelter. We used rusted scraps of shacks we tore down to erect a "home" for Eli and her little girls. On top of a Septic Tank....which measured 6' x 7'. This was their home for 8 months. Other residents chipped in survival food.
Two Bucket Eli! That is the nickname we gave her. Eli would nurse her new baby, and then jump into our crew's work. We use a lot of cement for mortar between and inside cinderblocks. Eli carried two, 2 gallon buckets of mortar (not light) everywhere she went. Everywhere. She never rested.
We found a lot to build for her for $ 1,040. It had been used for years as a garbage dump. It took three days with 15 workers to remove five overflowing truckloads of refuse, but we were ready to begin building her new home.
On September 29th,2012, Eli received the key to her new home at a "Key Ceremony."
Here she is, entering the home of her dreams.
Today, Eli is finishing up her degree in education with the goal of being a teacher. Elianny just completed 4th grade in CADIN Colegio, a good private school we have our scholarship students in. She is an "A" student. Her sister Arianny is 3 years behind her entering 2nd grade. Both are funded with scholarships by donors.
Eli says her biggest, most important motivator is to make her children proud of her.
See Elle receive the keys to her new home!
I HAVE NOTHING TO GIVE BUT THANKS
"Junior" was not the man we expected to meet. His real name is El Haude St. Limon, and he was a slumlord in Barrio Blanco renting the most awful shacks. The reality of poor Haitian life along with Junior's poise gave us better understanding of his reality.
Junior was the owner of some of the worst dwellings in Barrio Blanco. We wanted to improve this part of the neighborhood and build new homes for the residents living there. Haitians fresh from Haiti had nothing, and to rent a roof (even leaky) for $12 to $20 per month was better than no home at all. All his tenants spoke fondly of Junior.
We made a deal with Junior to build him a home and one to either rent or for his brother in exchange for giving us land that made possible building 4 more homes. We made the area nice. Here is part of it.
Junior had a disaster. Before we made our land agreement, he was working in Santiago, DR as a personal physical trainer. He had an accident with weights and crushed the bones in his thigh badly. When we met it was almost two years after this accident and he was still debilitated despite having surgery at the time of the accident.
Because he couldn't work physically any more, he took English courses and got good enough to try his hand at tele-marketing. It wasn't a good opportunity. He was struggling to feed his family. He started a supplemental income of selling water in 5 gallon bottles. None of these jobs provided enough income to support his wife and three children.
Two years after meeting him and getting to know his family mainly through his daughter's school activities, we heard that he was going to need to get his leg amputated. It seems the original operation left several bone fragments inside which had decayed and were poisoning his blood. He would die without the operation.
After finding out more, we learned he was going to have his leg amputated because he didn't have enough money for an operation to remove the fragments. It would cost $1700. Providing Opportunity donors were asked to help, and Two came forward each with $1700. This was good, because after the first operation, there were still fragments and it needed a second.
Junior healed. He wrote this on Facebook:
Junior made a full recovery and got to keep his leg and career. He has been working at Gold Gym nearby Cabarete, and look at him now! He now earns enough to pay for his family. Junior, ElHaude St. Limon is a an honorable man: not our prior vision of a slumlord.