Patrimonia Hoy (a story of making meaning)

It finally feels like home.

Two years ago, I got on the bus in Michoacan, to head to the Mexico City barrio where my uncle Miguel, his family, and half the people I grew up with have established themselves. My friends Jose and Rodrigo introduced me to Carolina a week after I got there, and helped me get a job at trucking company, too. I would never have considered coming to the city without knowing people on whom I could totally depend.

Having gotten married to Carolina a year ago, I knew I’d need to, eventually, make a place of our own. My in-laws wanted to help, though they didn’t have much themselves. Neither did Uncle Miguel or my friends. Fortunately, I was able to stake a claim on some land adjacent to my uncle’s place.

I’d done pretty well at the hotel, and had some money in my pocket. I wanted to do something worthwhile with it, but wasn’t sure what exactly. Of course, I wanted to build a house on my land, but concrete was expensive. Still, with Carolina expecting I knew I needed to do something- we were already enough of a burden on my in-laws.

I’d seen the name “CEMEX” on cement bags, but didn’t know much about them. Then one day, six months ago, Uncle Miguel told me about a friend of his who was part of a kind of cement buying club, sponsored by CEMEX, called “Patrimonio Hoy.” The friend said it was a great way to build better places for everyone.

So a bunch of us, including half of Carolina’s family, went to a meeting to hear more. What they told us sounded fantastic. We would form a few groups that would collectively purchase enough concrete to build a one-room house, say, or add a room to an existing place. Each group would pay for the concrete week by week, and, as a group, we’d receive the concrete and help each other build.

By buying together, the price was much more affordable. And, just as important, everyone got to improve their houses. Patrimonio Hoy helped all of us think through how to organize ourselves so that we could efficiently build one place after the next. Soon, the whole community was looking better. And Carolina and I now have the first floor of our house completed.

The whole world has changed for us. We’re all closer than ever, and I know in my gut that we made the right move coming to the city.

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