Home Is My Shelter

October 28, 2015 by Fabiola Johnson

Last week, we all heard it; hurricane Patricia reached unprecedented proportions, putting coastal Mexico at risk. Experts would have placed the storm at a category 7, except that current protocols are only designed to measure up to 5.

At Amor, we have a history of  building and rebuilding homes after huge storms, so we knew what that would mean for people living in extreme poverty, who, unfortunately, are always hit the worst.

Fortunately, the catastrophe that was predicted didn’t happen. Experts say that it had something to do with the mountainous terrain, but I strongly believe that prayer and the hand of God averted this disaster. As the eyes of the world were on Mexico, we joined hands in prayer, and the storm lost its power.

We don’t have to wait until a storm has destroyed everything in its path to notice our vulnerability against nature. However, we usually don’t even think about such things until apocalyptic Hollywood-esque images appear on our timelines and newscasts.

And for someone without adequate housing, mother nature is a threat regardless of the size or type of storm.

As I was working on this blog about “My home is…” (a new blog series where the Amor team reflects on the gift of having a home), I was thinking I would probably write about how Mexico is my home and how I feel compelled to protect it, or what home looked like during our years as a military family and deployments and such. Or the excitement of the hunt for our first home and how we are still addicted to open houses…then, I decided to ask my six-year-old daughter.

“My home is a place where I hide from the mosquitos.”

She said quickly without hesitation (at this age, that's how she speaks). My daughter gets giant welts at the site of every mosquito bite, so home protects her from her #1 enemy.

We live near a creek in East San Diego and every summer, despite the efforts by the County Vector Control, we have to take cover as soon as sunset shows its colors.  

Every evening, when she is at the pool or the park, as the sun begins to set, the mosquitos, lying dormant in the wet grass, wake up for a frenzied feeding. She is usually the first one to put on the mosquito repellent, but sometimes it doesn’t do the trick, so she’ll run back home and shut the door, leaving danger behind.

Mosquitoes pose a danger around the world; carriers of Dengue Fever in Mexico, West Nile Virus in the USA, and Malaria in many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  But a family living in a makeshift home of cardboard and scraps of this and that, cannot provide protection from these disease-carrying insects.

This is different from the occasional sneaky mosquito at night, whose humming put me to sleep on hot summer nights during my childhood in Mexico.  We could take precautions from letting them inside by closing windows and doors before night. My home today is even safer from mosquitoes because we have screens on most windows and doors, and thick, stuccoed walls that keep them out. But if you don’t have those windows or doors to close, or those stuccoed walls to protect you, suddenly you’re at risk of catching those diseases.

So yes, home is many things for me, but one thing my daughter helped me realized is that at the end of the day, it’s a place we created to protect us from nature. Be it a mosquito or a storm.

 

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