In October last year, volunteers from Rock the House built Pawiro a new home. Her former home was a tiny bamboo structure. The doorway was so narrow one would have to crouch down to enter – and once inside, the entirety of the home could be seen before you.
There was a kitchen space with a bench and when she cooked, an open fire. The walls were made of bamboo matting and sunlight would try to stream through the gaps in the weave, providing the only source of light in the windowless home.
Beside the kitchen was Pawiro’s bedroom which had just an old wooden bed frame with several planks missing and loose. The entire home had a hard dirt floor. She had no toilet or access to water, and relied on her neighbour’s facilities and the support of her children and grandchildren.
85 years ago, Pawiro was born in this home. Over the years, Pawiro and her husband, who passed away 40 years ago, raised three children here. They also made numerous repairs to the home but in Pawiro’s old age, this was too difficult to manage on her own.
“My house was shabby. It was not safe to be occupied,” said Pawiro. “There was nobody around to help me fix the leaks when it rained.”
One year later, she tells us how her new home has improved her life. “My house was in such a bad condition before, I could never have even dreamed or imagined having a new house like this one. The new home is so much better, because it’s safe from animals and creatures coming in at night. In fact, not only animals would come into my house, but rain and wind, heat and insects,” Pawiro said. “My life is so much better now; I am happy and healthy and have something I can be proud of. I am an old woman, I’m 93 years old – I am no one and people from the other side of the world have helped me to feel like I am special, that I am someone.”
“I think of the volunteers often, I remember them very well and still have their photograph. I think of them often and sometimes wait outside for them to come back and visit me. I hope that they remember me and that they will come to visit me again one day.”
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