The Houses That Ruth Built

“From that day forward, I was haunted by the thought of this precious little baby growing up and trying to survive in the conditions that surrounded us that day.”

One of the first things one notices when leaving the airport in San Salvador and traveling throughout the country is the beautiful landscape. But what catches your eye is what is nestled among this captivating beauty: what many here call their home, stands obverse to what you would think of as an average home in the U.S.

Even the dwellings in the most poverty stricken areas, here in the U.S., look like glamorous mansions to those in El Salvador seeking some form of shelter to protect themselves and their families from the elements of living a tropical rain forest.


houses poverty



housing poverty


A safe and secure house is a basic need for everyone but only an unattainable dream for many.

With extreme poverty hovering near 40% in the rural areas and 35% nationally, and many earning as little as $5 a day (if they have a job), this sheds a little light on the problem.

Unlike in the U.S., the people of El Salvador have virtually no governmental safety nets to assist them. Only their faith and handouts from kind-hearted friends and family allow some to survive for another day.


Four years ago when taking the time to visit each family in the small canton of San Lorenzo (85 families), we met a young woman named Ruth and her husband, Eric. After experiencing my wife’s six pregnancies, I knew that this young gal was in the final stages of labor.

“Of course, the visit was cut short, but for the rest of that day and throughout the night, I just could not get that soon to be young family out of my mind.”

That next day, I was informed that Ruth had given birth within hours of our brief encounter to a beautiful little girl, Katherine. From that day forward, I was haunted by the thought of this precious little baby growing up and trying to survive in the conditions that surrounded us that day.

Houses Ruth Built

Houses Ruth Built

It was a September week and 50 inches of rain had fallen, and nothing was dry. Ruth, Eric, and little Katherine were invited for a warm meal and the news that we would like to build them a house. They were in such disbelief they did not touch a single portion of their meals, even though I know that they had not eaten much that day.

A parcel of property was purchased between San Lorenzo and Berlin and a builder (master) was sought to facilitate with bringing this idea to reality. Wanting job security, he presented a plan for not one house, but six, that would fit comfortably on the property.


“WOW! I wasn’t expecting that.”

Many of the families that will end up inhabiting these homes have never had running water or electricity, so a priority was to install electric poles and lines and to dig in water lines from a source about a mile away. The trenching was done by hand, 30 cm wide x 40 cm deep, per the requirement of the water company. Around 15 men, women, and children showed up and completed it in 5 days.

Houses Ruth Built

Houses Ruth Built

 Houses Ruth Built


Each house is made of cement block on a cement foundation. Wooden interior doors, metal exterior doors with locks, crank out glass pane windows and ceramic tile finishes out the flooring.

Metal trusses for the roof support and red metal sheets (lamina) for the roof; indoor plumbing for a flush toilet and shower stall in the bathroom, two bedrooms, and the living area and kitchen sharing the largest room; wired for electric in all rooms with sufficient lighting and outlets.

Out the back door is a pila with running water for washing clothing on one side and preparing food on the other. The sanitary sewer water is routed to a septic system capable of handling each set of six houses.

Upon completion of the sixth house, each development is then enclosed for safety with metal gates that can be closed at night and block and metal fencing that encircle it.


The cost of each house is $5,000 for materials and $2,500 labor, and it takes 4 weeks to complete. Each house upon completion is then furnished with a refrigerator, kitchen cupboard, propane stove with oven, wooden table with 4 chairs, sofa, love seat, beds with mattresses, and wardrobes for each bedroom for a cost of an additional $2,000. These items are things many would never acquire in a lifetime, let alone a safe and secure home.
These homes are built and given to faithful, hardworking, and deserving families that just need a hand up. What is expected of them is to pay their own utility bills: water $4 per month, electric $5 per month, propane as needed where a $10 tank lasts up to 3 months; be respectful of the neighbors and general upkeep of their house.
These are life changing opportunities that not only benefit them now but for generations to come.


Each of the current 12 families have unique gut-wrenching, heart-breaking life stories. I hope to share a little about each, as they tell the story why we are.
We have completed two of these projects across from each other and have the infrastructure in place and the dream to continue with your help.



YOU Can Change A Life.