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Maritza Villareal Sanabre and Uilberth Sequeira Mejia built this house four years before it fell. “It was the only house I’ve had,” said Maritza. “I hope that I can just rebuild, in a better place because we don’t want to live in this little shack with four people. I want to offer my kids a better life. We need help, and all we hear from the government is ‘no, no, no.’”

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Sandra Baltodano Juarez lived in this home for ten years with 8 other family members before the earthquake. “Really, I practically designed the house,” she said. “We didn’t have money to pay the engineer to do it, so everything from the balcony to the bathrooms was my design. We worked hard with my cousins, my dad, and other family members lay down the wood floor and put up the gypsum to make the walls.” The latest addition to the family, Mariangel, was born after this home was damaged by the quake, and Sandra believes that her birth symbolizes a new generation for a new place.

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Alvaro Avila Alvarado and Anabel Gutierrez Espinoza have lived in this house for ten years, and their two youngest children, Ani Sirena and Eyla Estrella were both born here. “I’m a little sad because there’s a lot of memories there,” said Anabel. “I’m sad that our story with this place has now ended, it’s only memories now that are important for us... only memories.”

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Jose “Cholo” Matarrita Cabalceta and Marielos “Chola” Espinoza Matarrita built their house five years ago. Since then, they have lived there with their three children, Joselyn, 20, Justin, 14 and Jafed, 9. According to Joselyn, they built their house with a lot of love with the help of her grandfather and her uncle. Before the earthquake, the family was in the process of completing the finishing touches of the construction.

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“The house was 5 years old,” said Damaris Matarrita Matarrita. “And in just a little time we lost everything that we worked for to build that house.” Damaris says that she paid off her 5,000,000 colones investment in December 2011, and nine months later the house was completely destroyed. “My son struggled with me, working at Harmony Hotel to help me pay off the house, and now it’s lost.”

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Although Jennifer Ramirez Arce, Freddy Brenes Chaves and their family have only lived in the house for four years, Jennifer says it’s “the only home we have; it’s our kids’ home.” The house suffered few external damages, but internally there are foundational cracks and a loss of a structural support which allows one wall to move freely, risking total collapse. “I sincerely hope to God that I can rebuild our home,” said Jennifer. “That light of hope is all I have left.”

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