Maria, a 22-year-old mother in El Tunel, Nicaragua, is expecting her second child. “I lived with my mother-in-law, my husband’s brother and grandmother for three years. But my desire was to have my own house.” She and her husband were looking for a place to call their own for their growing family. “From the small savings we had, we built a little house, but still needed a roof. We could not buy the materials outright.”

A standard home in El Tunel is 15′ wide, 25′ long, and seven feet tall; pieced together from concrete, plywood, black plastic and sheets of zinc for the roof, which are generally kept in place by tires or heavy rocks to keep them from being blown away. During the long rainy season, however, what little protection from the elements the roof provides is all but nullified due to constant leaks.

Outreach established a revolving fund for roof repairs to provide families access to credit for new sheets of zinc, and provide further repairs to others as those loans are repaid.

“With this project, we have the opportunity to pay for the roof in monthly installments, which goes into the community group fund, allowing others in the community to obtain roofs as well,” Maria says.

Besides keeping families drier and healthier, the loan program is a source of pride for Maria’s family and others from her community– giving participants a sense of self-worth and pride as they come to recognize the value of collaboration. It means that instead of debt hanging over their heads, they have shelter from the storm.