Following row after row of decaying mobile homes, you will find the small trailer belonging to the Roberto and Mina’s family. Roberto, Mina, Roberto Jr., and Lemay have called this one bedroom, one bathroom camper trailer home for over a year. At 6-by-27 feet, the trailer offers a mere 162 square feet of living space. The need for space by the family of four is clearly overwhelming.
The children share the one bedroom in the back, however, their bunk bed offers little privacy for either of them. During the day, the family uses four folding chairs in the living room to eat, spend time together, and watch television. Come nightfall, the family folds the chairs up and lays a mattress on the floor for Roberto and Mina to sleep.
Emigrating from Cuba nearly three years ago, the Roberto and Mina’s family has embraced American culture, and Mina was quick to point out the disparities between the United States and their homeland, saying, “We had never seen things like automatic sliding doors. It was like heaven. We are very happy in America.”
“There are no clothing stores. There are no places that sell shoes. Grocery stores offer limited food choices. When we came here, when we saw the stores and all the variety of what they sold—it was definitely a culture shock,” said Roberto.
Robert’s Green Thumb is Silver Lining of Trailer
A sophomore at Naples High School, Roberto Jr. spends his free time gardening and landscaping the little land surrounding the trailer. The craft and care that Roberto Jr. has put into landscaping may be the single upside to the substandard living conditions of his family—beautifying what would otherwise be a depressing reality. His work has not gone unnoticed in the community, as he has received praise from their neighbors for his gorgeous work.
Lemay is looking forward to following in her brother’s footsteps, as she is beginning her first year of high school. A sure bet for the dance team and a junior varsity volleyball hopeful, Lemay is making big plans for herself—she is already aspiring to be a dentist, although she is still unsure which school she favors. Remarkably, Lemay has mastered the English language in the two short years she has been in the United States. And this brilliance shows on her report card of A’s and B’s.
Proud of Herself, Proud of Her Family
Mina has much to be proud about, with her wonderful family and their recent approval by Habitat for Humanity for a mortgage. “It was a proud moment, a beautiful moment to know we had been approved for a home. My kids are going to have their own bedrooms, they will have privacy” she said.
Mina began her 500 hours of required sweat equity the day after finding out they had been approved for the program. “I’m out there Tuesday-Saturday from 8am to 2pm working on my hours,” she said. She and her husband are grateful for the support of friends and family who have helped them accumulate nearly 300 hours of sweat equity. Roberto said they have “taken nearly everyone [they] know out to the jobsite.”
Building Dreams. Building Hope. Building a Future.
The entire family is looking forward to watching their future home being built. “It’s going to be new for us and it’s going to be good for us too,” said Mina. Lemay wants to paint her bedroom pink. Roberto Jr. cannot wait to start planting a big garden. Roberto and Mina bought a new grill for their house warming party, where they’re planning a massive barbeque to thank all those who helped. Mina says there “is no way to describe their feelings other than purchasing a home is their American dream coming true.”