Mikhial and Brionica
We got married in 2016 with our close friends and family in New Hampshire; we were 17 and 19 years old. We decided an exploration across the country would be the best honeymoon. We left New Hampshire after many long months of trying to find a place were we could live together comfortably. Mikhial was laid off from his job and we lost our apartment all at once. We could no longer afford to survive there. Our wedding was a celebration of our union and a goodbye party wrapped in one. Our travels were an effort to settle down somewhere new and exciting. Eventually we settled down in Tres Piedras, New Mexico right down the road from Mikhial’s brother, Jacob. Brionica was 5 months pregnant at this time. In desperate preparation for our new baby’s arrival we built a small 10×16 cabin. When our son was born, there was no insulation. Over the next few months we slowly winterized our cabin. We had barely any power, and no running water. Our bathroom was an outhouse roughly 150 yards from our
home. It was the only safe home either of us have ever known. The winters and monsoon season here in Tres Piedras are very hard for our family. Often our road becomes impassible and we would have to carry children and supplies from the highway to our house. If you do not own a 4×4 SUV you will not make it up our road, even on a good day. We have run
out of wood, our only heating source, many times during the cold winters here. Every week we have to haul just enough water to be able to drink and cook with. Coffee, dish and bath water for the children is all boiled on the stove and rationed. We cannot run electronics such as
our vacuum and TV at the same time. We do most of our cleaning and dish washing with baby wipes. Refrigeration and a freezer is something we have learned to live without. Most of our food is dried or canned. We have “meat nights” on the days we go to town for water, laundry and baby supplies. Before the pandemic, we took our showers at the Youth and Family center in Taos. Our house is far from child proof and has not only flooded two and a half feet in depth, but leaks every time it rains. Buckets and towels are used to stop the water coming into the house. Water often flows in from our improperly built chimney. Our roofing flaps in the wind making it near impossible to hear one another, and our outhouse has blown over and been destroyed twice. The mesa has become a very unsafe place for us. We are surrounded by people with serious mental disorders. These people are often violent or verbally threatening towards us and our children. Nearly everyone in this area possesses a firearm, including felons, convicted sex offenders and alcoholics. You can hear screaming and gunfire while our kids are playing outside and throughout the night. Whenever a vehicle drives by or someone knocks on our door our first instinct is to grab our guns. We have been told by our therapists that we both suffer from PTSD due to our current living situation and environment. Our plan was to build a large permanent house on our property 50×25 feet that would include four bedrooms, a greenhouse, one bathroom and a large living area. After about two years and another
baby later we were well on our way to completing our project. The walls were up, the roof was finished and we were working on the floor/insulation when one of our neighbors turned against us and reported us to the town. Due to code issues we were forced to demolish everything we had built. We had no hope, and no way to provide a healthy home for our soon to be three children. Kevin Miller heard our story and reached out to us. He told us there was a chance for us to have a Habitat for Humanity home, all we had to do was apply. We filed the paperwork and a few months later we were accepted into the partner family program. This home will mean so many wonderful things for us; running hot water and proper heating, a toilet and
a shower, a fully functioning kitchen, a safe neighborhood, separate sleeping spaces for our children and the room to live together as a family, just to name a few. We are so grateful to everyone involved in this project, and we hope our story inspires people and lets them know the difference they are making in our lives.