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.