Putting People First Creates New Hope in Venezuela

Raindrops plunked down on the zinc metal roof, sounding like a thousand tiny feet, dancing. Inside her house, Yajaira held out her outstretched palm and laughed. “I’m not getting wet anymore!” Yajaira laughed again, remembering how it had also rained as she rebuilt her roof, making the process all the more difficult.

When it rains, our project participants no longer get wet inside their homes. Photo by Luis Silvera.

We started this infrastructure project earlier this year. After we performed a needs analysis, we identified 39 families whose roofs needed repairing. Many of our participants were female-led households or the elderly. Participants attended five training sessions on construction, construction safety, and waste management before we provided them with the materials they needed to repair their roofs. 

The training sessions enhanced the capacity-building component of this project. Since most of the houses are made of zinc, the participants learned how to recycle, reuse, resell, and dispose of zinc responsibly. During the construction training sessions, they made prototypes out of cardboard, straw, and glue so that they would know how to calculate and install a roof with the correct inclination and how to place pipes with the requisite distance between each one.

Yajaira describes herself as “a woman who does everything,” meaning she takes care of elderly people, sews, and makes jewelry to earn a living. Even though she works multiple jobs, she still does not earn enough money to hire someone to maintain her house’s infrastructure. Thanks to our community of peacebuilders, she now has the skills and knowledge to do it herself. We were supposed to support 38 other families like Yajaira with our roof reconstruction project, but we were able to support 40 in total. Forty families will now keep dry inside their homes when it rains.

Mold is a constant problem in this community because so many people have roofs that need to be repaired. When you showed up to impart the skills needed to repair roofs and the materials necessary to do so, you made a huge impact. Not only did the participants become more self-reliant as their technical and practical knowledge grew, but they were also healthier. When their homes stay dry on the inside, less mold grows. Without leaking roofs, they stay dry, too, and are less susceptible to illness. 

Your generosity continuously impacts our participants’ lives. Now, when it rains, electrical appliances such as TVs and phones don’t suffer water damage because their roofs do not leak. They have less stress because they do not have to do big clean-ups inside their living rooms and bedrooms after storms sweep through their community. Their homes become a source of stability and not a push factor to leave. 

As this conflict-ridden year draws to a close, doom scrolling is an addictive pastime. But there are moments of hope and joy too. Thanks to you, the 40 families keeping dry and safe in Venezuela are 40 new ones. 

Put People First