Habitat Stories: A Healthier Home for Bia

Mar 2, 2017 10:00 AM ET

Maria Lucia is a single mother who works full time as a janitor in a hospital to support her 7-year-old daughter Bia. They live in a one-bedroom house in Bomba do Hemeterio, a low-income neighborhood in Recife, the sixth-largest metropolitan area in Brazil.

Before Habitat, their house was small and dark, with little ventilation and natural lighting. The roof was badly damaged from the rain, and the inside of the house was hot and moldy. Bia often had to miss school due to respiratory problems, a common affliction among children who grow up in these kinds of conditions.

When Habitat Brazil began a repair and renovation project in Bomba do Hemeterio, Maria Lucia quickly asked to join in. Through a small loan, she was able to renovate and improve her house, with long-term impact. Her water and electricity bills have been cut in half, thanks to home improvements like installing new windows; repairing and raising the roof and painting it white; changing faucets; and installing mechanisms to harvest, store and reuse water.

These savings were enough to ensure that Maria Lucia was able to pay the installments of her Habitat loan, and now she and Bia have a decent place to live. Bia’s health has improved, and she has a place to study, play and spend time with her mother.

“To me, it is such a relief,” Maria Lucia says. “I wanted my daughter to have a safe place to live. I wanted to provide a better life for her. I am so grateful to Habitat for what they’ve helped us achieve. Our house looks and feels so much better, and we’re even saving on our bills. Our life has improved tremendously.”