MQC Photo Costa Rica

Pride

Early 2006, over 1000 families in extreme poverty, most of them Nicaraguan immigrants, were evicted from a shantytown called La Candela behind the Juan Santamaría International airport in Costa Rica. The community pleaded the government for time, they only wanted their children to finish the school year and more time to find an affordable place to live. But in just two weeks, everybody was put out and all the shacks were destroyed.

A group of women from the community got organized in an association and, with the help of a priest and many donors, they worked for seven years until they finally were able to own a home. The association was founded with more than 80 families, but only 23 stuck until the end. Eleven of those families came from La Candela.

The seven-year process was filled with hard work and perseverance. Each family had to save a little over one thousand dollars, work at a monthly fund raising event, and sell produce, raffles and food. But the hardest part was dealing with discrimination and swindles from public and private organizations.

To buy the lot and build the houses each family received a grant from the Costa Rican government of US$28,000. This grant was really hard to get given their immigrant condition. On top of that, the association was able to save and raise more than US$120,000 needed to pay the difference for the construction and the lots.

The first few homes were given to the families three years ago to those families that were up to date with their fees and responsibilities. The last key was given to the remaining family on December 16, 2012. That day the association threw a big party to inaugurate their new community and their new life.

With pride and a sense of security, the families of Association Project Mothers-Teachers have made the simple structure they received their homes knowing that nobody will ever make them homeless again.

(Multimedia of the essay here)


Pride

Danyely Narvaes Solís was one and a half years old when her family was evicted from the only place she knew as home, the shantytown called La Candela, behind the Juan Santamaría International Airport of Costa Rica. On May 6, 2006 she saw the tractors take down her neighborhood and her home.


Pride

Danyely now lives in El Cacao de Alajuela, and instead of destruction she sees people building homes, planting trees and growing a community.


Pride

The residential development know as “La Urba” is basically a development for wellfare homes. The 23 houses built by the association cost US$16,000 per lot, and US$14,200 per construction. All the houses came without internal doors and the walls were unfinished.


Pride

Mayra Teyes (c) her two youngest children, Michell (l) and Logan (r) and her youngest grandson Donoban pose for a photo at their new home. Mayra has lived in extreme poverty since she migrated to Costa Rica. When she had to paint her new home, she mixed paint leftovers from anybody.


Pride

Asunción Gómez (l) and her daughter Yamileth, pose for a family photo with their dogs. “We used to coexist with rats,” Asunción said, “that is why when I heard about the project I did not think it twice.”


Pride

Dina Urbina Teyes (r) and her children Braylin, Hilarey and Kevin (right to left) pose for a photo at their new home. A few days before their house was finished, Dina and her husband pawned everything they owned to be able to pay the $1,000 they still owed to the association. They moved in around two years ago.


Pride

Azucena del Socorro Baes poses for a photo at her new house with his son Gabriel. Azucena said they used to live surrounded by cockroaches and rats, with an abusive husband who didn't care if rent was due. Today she has a house on her name, a husband that drinks less and a feeling of empowerment.


Pride

Madeline Reyes (center left) poses for a photo with her children (left to right) Gimena, Antony and Jonathan, at their new home. Madeline joined the association when a friend that was evicted from the shantytown invited her. Now that she moved to her home she is not happy, because she can't find a job.


Pride

Juana Rivera (back left) and Leonardo Peña Tenorio (center) pose with their children (left to right) Alejandra, Justin and Hazel at their new home. Juana is from Nicaragua, and Leonardo is from Costa Rica. Leonardo remembers Juana was more involved in the project, and he made sure they pay for every fee.


Pride

Karen Urbina Cabrera (right) poses for a photo with her daughter, Valerie (center right) and her sisters María Frida and Noemi (right to left) at their mother’s new house. They used to live at a shantytown in the center of San José. They like their new home because it's at a healthier and nicer community.


Pride

Lucía Gómez Duarte (center) poses for a photo with her husband, Roberto Casco (r) and her children Jimena, Pamela and Angélica (right to left) at their new home. They used to rent two rooms in San José, where according to Lucía the children lived like in a prison. Now they feel like living in a Palace.


Pride

Marvin José Martínez (c) poses for a photo with his children Cristian (l) and Juliana (r) at their new home. Marvin’s wife, Miriam López was at work at the time of the photo. “There is nothing nicer than having a home,” Marvin said. “All of those people that left the project are probably repentant.”


Pride

Melba Padilla (l) poses for a photo with her husband Felix Alemán (right back) and their children Luis Alfredo, Mael y Felix (right to left). Melba and Felix never imagine that migrating to Costa Rica will also mean one day owning a home.


Pride

Luis Garay (l) poses for a photo with his wife Elizabeth Niño (r) and their children Karen (front) and Jean Carlos (back). “(The project) felt like a big family,” Luis said, “we all gave support to each other.” Luis and Elizabeth’s house was the last house to be handed in.


Pride

Ana Elizabeth Valles (center left) and Ronald Altamira (center right) pose for a photo with their children Heydi and Angel at their new home. “We always saw the project as a savings account,” Ronald said. “It was a lot of sacrifice but we got what we wanted,” he added.


Pride

Ada Francis Valles (center right) poses for a photo with her husband Silvio Laguna (center left) and their children Sheryl, Ethany and Silvio (left to right) at their new home. Ada Francis said the hardest of the process was to overcome the discrimination that the association suffer due to their immigrant statues.


Pride

Evelyn Solis (second left) poses for a photo with her husband David Narvaez (back) and their children Dlassing, Dangely, Dashly, Davelyn and David (left to right) at their new home. Evelyn was the leader of the group even before it existed, when La Candela's woman wanted opportunities for their children.


Pride

Raul Castellón poses for a photo at his new home. Raúl has been part of the association since the beginning, when his family was evicted from La Candela. He wanted a home for his family, but in the process he separated from his wife and now only gets to share his dream with his daughter during school break.


Pride

Ana Cleta Lira (c) poses for a photo with her children Jose Carlos (l) and Sofía (r) at their new home. Ana Cleat remembers one day she was told to leave the association, she was behind with the payments, but she thought about it and told herself “who told you it was going to be easy, keep fighting.”


Pride

Lesbia Zelaya (l) poses for a photo with her husband Pedro Narvaez (second left) and their children Henry, Gabriela, Angie, their nephew Greivin and Cristel (left to right) at their new house. “It is a dream,” Lesbia said, “to be in a country that is not ours and to say we own a house.”


Pride

Pablo Padilla (c) poses for a photo with his children Pablo(l) and Yarith (r) at their new home. Pablo's family was evicted from La Candela and his wife brought them to the project. She died of cancer four years ago. “She told me not to abandon our children,” Pablo said, “they are the best thing she left me.”


Pride

Miriam Castillo (right back) poses for a photo with here mother Lucila Castillo (center) and her two daughters Angely (l) and Yasiri (r) outside their new home. They used to live at a shantytown in the heart of San José. They like their new home but they miss the fast pace and easier access to work.


Pride

Domitila Gómez and Rolando Padilla pose for a photo outside their new home. They lived in La Candela with their children and grand children when they got evicted. Three of the families rented a house together and started participating in the association. Now they live together, but each family on its own home.


Pride

Claudia Caldera (second left) and Jose Luis Madrigal (left) pose for a family photo with their children Marta Ligia, Rosa Angélica, Marcela and Claudia (left to right) outside their new home. When Claudia joined the project she started dreaming about having a garden. She now has a it.


Pride

Four generations of the family Gonzalez Martínez pose for a photo outside their new home. They were evicted from La Candela in 2006 and had the hardest time finding a house for rent. “Now we live in peace,” Gloria Martinez said, “because we do not have to worry that somebody will kick us out.”


Pride

When the 23 families bought the lots they couldn't pick them. They were designated the farthest section to the development. What was done with disdain turned positive for them. They have their own private section of the residential area where children can play at ease and people can sleep in peace.