No one plans to be a single mother.
Dora Elena Chaparro Quintero certainly didn’t. Four years ago, just weeks after the birth of their twin boys, her husband Luis was tragically killed in a car accident. Imagine it: the joy of new life and the sorrow of sudden death, all at the same time. Just like that, Dora was left to raise Alexander and Angel without a father in their lives.
Life has been far from easy for them. But fortunately, Dora wasn’t left to fend for herself. Her parents live in the area, and they didn’t hesitate to take in this traumatized young family until they could get back on their feet.
Dora’s mother, who has experience as a seamstress, helps to teach sewing classes in one of 1MISSION’s community projects. She encouraged Dora to apply for a new house. She even helped her daughter earn her community service hours and together they helped Dora buy a plot of land.
Dora provides for her family by working with her father selling delicious elote (Mexican street corn) on the Malecón in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. In addition to caring for the twins, Dora also has a one-year-old daughter named Dharany, although she has since separated from the baby’s father.
More than anything, she wants to give her children a better life. And she’s determined to provide it. She knows the four of them can’t keep living in a single bedroom much longer.
“For me and my family, this house is a help and a great blessing,” Dora says. “Life will be better when we are living in our own house. We will be safe among our neighbors here.”
Earlier this year, when Dora’s twins found out their family would be getting a new house from 1MISSION, one of them asked their mom, “Does this mean we will get our own room?” She told him, “Yes, you will have a room with two beds for you and your brother.” Giving them a bedroom of their own has become a driving motivation. It’s kept her going.
Caroline Davis of Tucson, Arizona, helped build Dora’s new house last month as part of a group from Pantano Christian Church. You wouldn’t know it right away, but Caroline’s family is Sonoran – just like Dora and her family. Only, in Caroline’s case, those Sonoran roots date back to the founding of Tucson, long before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsden Purchase. Caroline’s family hasn’t moved; the border has.
When Caroline heard Dora’s story, she got choked up. Not out of mere pity, but because Dora’s story hit so close to home. When Caroline had her first son, the boy’s father disappeared. So Caroline found herself working two jobs – even while studying for a dual major in accounting and management information systems at the University of Arizona. “Fortunately,” she says, “I could get by without a lot of sleep back then.” She kept at it and now she has a good job. “Today, my family is very blessed.”
During those difficult early days, moving from one small apartment to another, Caroline’s son used to ask her for one thing: a backyard. “He just wanted to have a space of his own, a space that was his,” she says.
“You can see she’s working her backside off to make things happen for her kids,” Caroline says of Dora. “And you can see how much her family cares for her and wants her to have her own life. It makes me want to cry. It’s really something else.”
Working together, Dora and Caroline forged a bond that will not be easily broken. It’s a bond between mothers who do whatever it takes to provide a better life for their children.
Caroline has a feeling this won’t be the last time she sees Dora. “I feel like we’ve kind of added to our family,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what side of the fence you’re on. We’re all the same, we’re all human beings. We all have to help each other.”
Dora and Caroline teach us what it looks like to build community, one house at a time. They teach us that even though it may feel like we live in different worlds, we’re really not that far apart.
Right now, will you partner with us to bridge the gap between dreams and reality? Will you help more families like Dora’s get access to safe, secure housing in 2020? We can’t do it without you. So please, give today.