By Kamy Sullivan
First and foremost thank you to all the St. Boniface parishioners who helped a poor family in El Recreo make their dreams come true with a new home. The Rivas family thanks you from the bottom of their hearts. When Wendy Rivas was born she was paralyzed from the waist down. Her mother abandoned her and her two brothers in their infancy. Wendy’s grandmother Marta and grandfather Alcidis have raised Wendy and her two brothers Rene and Kernan. This past May Wendy had a surgery that has helped her quality of life. This wouldn’t have been possible without the donations of St. Boniface parishioners, non-parishioners, and Friends from Iowa Foundation (FFIF). In June three delegates from the St. Boniface group visited Wendy to see how she was recuperating. They also went to the home she had been living in and decided that the Rivas family could not return to those conditions. Using private donations of St. Boniface parishioners, the core group decided to build the Rivas family a home and announced it to the Rivas family.
To build the home, Hector, an area contractor who builds homes for Jerry and Kathy Burger, heads of FFIF, visited the property to see what he recommended as a new structure for the family. Next, the old structure was demolished. Excavation was completed for the foundation and cement was poured in the last few weeks.
The completed structure measures seven meters by seven meters with a hip roof, two corridors, and covered porches. The 530 square-foot structure is home to five family members. The walls of the main building are five cement blocks high, topped with wood-framed walls sheathed with heavy-duty metal siding. The two covered porches allow extra living area, a private bathing using, and the location of a large water basin (pila) to do laundry. The new roof includes a few translucent panels, allowing some light into the home, which has no electricity. Simple solar lighting may be installed at a later day. The floor will be concrete covered with tile-like squares for easy clean up. Also included are windows that open and close and a locking front door. In addition, an enclosed latrine will be included to replace the previous one which was little more than sticks supporting a piece of black plastic.
For images of Wendy’s previous living conditions and her new home, please see these these two online photo albums: