When you’re living in global poverty like 3 billion people in the world today, the word “home” can mean different things. For many parents and children in poverty, home is a temporary shelter, with scrap metal roofing and patchy tarps for walls. It’s not the idyllic, warm place that springs to many of our minds, but an emergency shelter designed to be a quick fix for natural disasters or war-torn regions.    

Only sometimes, it’s not a quick fix. Many families spend years living in temporary shelters, and these communities are often without sanitary water, offer no protection from the outdoors, and aren’t structurally safe. These are not places of opportunity, they are places of survival.

But people, and children especially, deserve an environment not just to survive, but to thrive. With real homes, comes the opportunity for many things, including a better life. 

At New Story, we believe that everyone should get the opportunity to benefit from a home, not a temporary shelter. Here’s why:  

1. Safety

A home transforms how a person interacts with their outside world. In the communities we build, New Story homes typically replace houses made from scrap metals or found resources that create unstable, temporary dwellings. What’s better is our homes also provide personal security, to safeguard belongings and valuables, and even prevent external violence or assault. For children growing up in the instability of global poverty, a door that locks means peace of mind for parents when they leave for work each day, and a good night’s sleep can make a big difference for children. Also, when you have a permanent home, you can safeguard against storms and other dangerous weather. 

2. Health & Sanitation

It’s no secret: Clean water and proper sanitation dramatically decrease the risk of disease and sickness. Things as simple as bathrooms in communities prevent the likelihood of water contamination and the spreading of infectious diseases. Living in a dwelling without a foundation means water runoff often flows through the floors, and for children, this can spell devastating illness for children in poverty. That’s why each of our communities is finished with running water and electricity and proper bathroom facilities. It ensures that we’re solving problems, not just moving them from place to place.

children in poverty

3. Education

When kids can focus on education, have a place to study, and can get a good night’s sleep, their chances of reaching their greatest potential increases dramatically. Based on a recent study, chaotic home lives are  a contributing factor in behavioral problems in children. By providing a place for kids to be kids, children like Alejandra can complete their homework, win academic awards, and chip away at their dream of becoming exactly what they want to be. 

children in poverty

4. Income

Did you know that having a safe, stable home can create economic opportunities for people to earn more and start their own businesses? In our housing community in La Herradura, El Salvador, Patricia Ann went from making roughly $5 per day in income to $20 per day thanks to the small tienda she opened selling food to construction workers from her home. Her next big dream? To open a restaurant out of her house and serve her community even more. When children grow up in environments where parents operate successful business, it increases the chance that they’ll aspire to success as well. Plus, more daily income means better nutrition and the likelihood that everyday needs will be met consistently.     

5. Community

As it turns out, feeling isolated has scientifically been proven to be as bad for you as smoking. Just like animals who mark their territory and build dens, people have fundamental attachments to place and space, especially when it’s shared. That’s why each of our communities aren’t just stand alone homes in isolated places, rather, they’re built with input from the people who live there. Parents and kids alike get a voice in designing the space that fits their needs, which ultimately brings them closer together in the pursuit of one dream: safe, reliable homes for all. 

By building sustainable homes and communities like the ones we have in Mexico, El Salvador, Bolivia, and Haiti, we do more than provide disaster relief to people in need of shelter. With your help, we provide homes that reflect the people who live in them: A place where opportunity and hope can build a better life for all.