Adolfo Arroyo considers himself a rather shy guy, but he has not let his shyness prevent him from making a world of difference. Once a year for the past seven years he has joined 85-100 volunteers in an effort to improve the lives of people in Guatemala.
In 2004 Adolfo’s wife, Iliana Silva, introduced him to Habitat for Humanity®, to build houses for those in need. Illiana, upon returning from her first build in Guatemala, told Adolfo that she thought it would be a good idea for him to go next.
“That’s something we like to do. We like to help people,” says Adolfo, who is originally from Mexico. “It all sounded very interesting.” The following year, Adolfo made the trip to Guatemala with eFinity and Tim Foley donating his time to building houses while his wife stayed in the U.S. to take care of their children, Mateo and Sombra. He has been participating in the builds ever since, and usually serves as the Spanish translator.
Challenges of Daily Life
During his time spent building houses, Adolfo sees first-hand the challenges faced by many of the Guatemalan people. “So many of the people there don’t even have a house,” he shares. “If they do, usually there are three generations of families living in one little house together. There is one little room to sleep in, and sometimes water leaks underneath the walls.
“They don’t have the same opportunities we have here (in the U.S.). Even if they do have a job, it’s not enough to support their families.” The builds usually take place in the coldest of winter months in the U.S., but in Guatemala the temperature has risen to well over 100 degrees F during the times Adolfo has been there. “People keep working and working. We want to see the houses built,” he says.
Since 2005, Adolfo and other volunteers have collectively built about 40-45 houses for families in Guatemala – and the houses are drastically different from the ones many Guatemalans are used to. “We build the new houses to have electricity, hot running water, a water sanitizer, a kitchen, and two bathrooms,” explains Adolfo. “I enjoy seeing the faces of the people with all their smiles.”
Although Adolfo keeps in contact with several of the people whose houses he helped build, in particular one family’s generosity made an impression on him. “A pastor and his family cooked a meal for me and my group (of three or four people),” shares Adolfo. “It was his way of saying ‘thank you.’”
Even Adolfo’s children help in their own way. Every year just before he is getting prepared to depart for Guatemala, Mateo and Sombra, who are nine and ten years old respectively, gather some of their own toys, clothes, soccer balls, and other sports equipment to donate to Guatemalan children. “They know the people over there are in need,” adds Adolfo. He plans to participate in the next build, which will take place in February of 2012. “It would be nice for other people to come and see life a little differently,“ says Adolfo. “They are welcome to join us.”
More eFinity photos from Flickr: