Housing with Dignity: a Project to Rebuild Lives in Honduras

April 14, 2022

In November 2020, hurricanes Eta and Iota hit Central America. One of the most affected countries was Honduras. Rigoberto Alarcón lived with his wife and two daughters in a small house made of mixed timber, bamboo, and mud. His was just one of 102 families identified as being extremely vulnerable that have joined the CWS’s Housing with Dignity Project.

“The rain was so hard, and the walls were moving and damaged. My two daughters were with me. My wife passed away before it happened, so I took my two daughters to safety and we went to live with my cousin,” Rigoberto remembers. Due to the hurricanes, his house was badly damaged and unlivable.

“We were scared because we heard rumbling underground,” said Cristóbal Perdomo, another program participant, “and the houses started to move and crumble, and dust was coming down on us. It was night time and the earth began to open up, and big holes appeared. Nearly all of the houses here are badly damaged.”

According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, in Honduras, Hurricanes Eta and Iota affected 4.7 million people, and forced more than 1 million to evacuate their homes. Tragically, around 200 people died, 1,000 homes were destroyed, and close to 90,000 more houses were damaged.

During the first weeks after the emergency, CWS partner organizations, Comisión de Acción Social Menonita and Proyecto Aldea Global, conducted needs assessments and started the initial emergency response: opening shelters for evacuated families, delivering food aid and hygiene kits, and providing psychosocial support. But there was still an overwhelming need for shelter. So, the second phase was implementing the Housing with Dignity Project with the funding of the Church of the Brethren (COB), Latter-day Saint Charities (the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and individual donors.

By March 2022, Comisión de Acción Social Menonita had built 16 houses in the municipality of Nuevo Celilac. Proyecto Aldea Global built seven houses, two in the municipality of Ceguaca, and five in the municipality of San Nicolás. A total of 23 families (117 people) have benefitted so far. Currently, 70 new houses are under construction for 70 families (350 people).

Families are rebuilding their lives in secure houses. Each construction includes foundations, reinforced brick masonry walls, zinc sheet roofs, cement floors, glass lattice windows, wooden doors, sanitary service modules, painting, connections to public water and sewage networks, and energy.

Eber Trochez, his wife Estefany Enamorado, and their 4-year-old daughter Yaneli were part of the participating families in the municipality of Ceguaca. Estefany said: “When we received our new house, freshly painted, we set out to maintain cleanliness, order and improve the decoration with items we made ourselves. Our neighbors have then been motivated to do the same, improving their houses, tidying and cleaning them to make them look better too”.

Families now have water for their personal hygiene, household cleaning, and food preparation. Before, many of these families did not have running water. They no longer have to travel long distances to obtain it.

Moreover, families no longer use latrines and instead use flush toilets inside their homes. This supports the safety of children and women and improves the environmental and community health, by reducing pollution. This also helps eliminate the sources of pests and diseases.

In addition to continuing the construction of the houses, the project will soon start activities related to livelihoods. These activities will include providing seeds and agricultural assistance and training the communities to increase their resilience and recovery capabilities.

See more of this motivating project in the gallery below:

Photos by Sean Hawkey and courtesy of CASM