The Teresa Maria Saquic Family


It’s no easy thing having a landlord.

For Teresa, it was especially tough. “We would get woken up at 5 or 6 in the morning, somebody tapping at the door,” she says. The landlord didn’t respect the family’s privacy, and the neighbors didn’t either.

It didn’t make things any easier that the home was made of adobe, an inadequate building material made from dirt and calcium.

“I was always afraid the house would fall in an earthquake,” says Teresa. And back in the strong 2012 earthquake, the home was left with cracks up and down its crumbling walls.

With two children married and out of the house and two children still living under her roof, things needed to change. Teresa bought a plot of land not far away, and partnered with Habitat Guatemala to build her new house there.


“Thanks for having come,” she says to the volunteers who came to help build her house, “and having helped build my house. I’m thankful for the foundation [Habitat Guatemala] and for all the volunteers, that God has let my house be built!” She talks with a big smile. She’s a proud homeowner.

“I’m happy,” she says. “And I’m no longer worried about sleeping at night.” She also says that cooking in her new place is much more pleasant. “Here, we are on the edge of the road, we can see all the people go by. Before, we were removed, out in the country.”

Teresa is also thinking about the future. She says she’s happy that she’ll have something to give to her 14- and 17-year-old kids when they are older. Currently, her two married children are building a house on the same plot of land behind Teresa’s. Like her’s, it’s a cozy place with a nice view. Teresa is proud to be able to keep her family together.





The Herbert and Yolanda Family


Jacinta opens the door. She’s in her son Herbert’s new house, hanging out with Herbert’s wife, Yolanda. Yolanda’s whipping up some atol, a traditional corn drink, and something else that smells so good the cats casually roam the kitchen area in hopes for a taste.

“Come on in!” says Jacinta merrily. She explains that Herbert is out giving music lessons as she picks up a music theory book to show off.

Jacinta is a proud mother. She talks about Herbert in a bold voice and wears a confident smile that doesn’t fade quickly. She explains how Herbert got his home.

“He got married, and he wanted his own place,” she says. Herbert had turned in his paperwork for a Habitat home and was approved, given his current housing situation. Herbert and Jacinta were living in a room in Jacinta’s home. They occupied one room, Jacinta and her daughter occupied another, and tienda, or store, occupied the last.

A short time later, a group of volunteers were passing blocks to get the first layers of the house built. Jacinta and Yolanda are really thankful for the help that the volunteers provided, and they hope to see the volunteers again. Their doors are always open.

Yolanda says the house is much more comfortable than when they shared a room in her mother-in-law’s home. The new place has a spacious living room, a nice arched window into the kitchen, and a Habitat Guatemala smokeless stove set up in the corner of the kitchen.

Yolanda and Herbert are more than happy with their new bed, as well. They say it’s very comfortable and it was a really thoughtful wedding gift! “It’s so good!” says Yolanda.


Herbert has set up a little area in the living room for an internet, or a computer to be used publicly for $0.60 per hour. It’s not much, but it’s a nice little way for the couple to make an added income when they’re not using the computer.

Currently in construction is a wall in front of the house for a bit of added privacy and blockage of road noise.

The house is really comfortable. Breeze flows from the front door through the house and out the back door. For the young couple, the house signifies a passage from young adulthood into independence.





The Migdalia and Jorge Family


Migdalia’s story starts in her parents’ house, where she was “constantly depending on them.”

“They gave us a space,” says Migdalia, “and they helped out with paying the bills and sharing the responsibilities.” Migdalia’s husband, Jorge Luis Batz, was working as a driver, and their baby, Luna, was growing up.

“In the beginning it’s easy,” says Migdalia, as her 4-year-old daughter clings to her arm. “But later, not so much. My baby was growing!”

The young couple, even as a married independent unit, was still depending on mom and dad simply because of the circumstances of shared housing. Migdalia didn’t like it. She wasn’t free. And she had been wanting to build a house for five years, until finally she applied to Habitat for Humanity Guatemala.

Migdalia remembers the construction of the house, and how little Luna was already pointing to rooms and claiming her space. “She said, ‘that’s going to be my room!'”


“We are really happy,” says Migdalia, “not everybody has the blessing of having their own home. It was a dream we had for a long time. Thanks to all the volunteers who were really friendly, for working together with us and helping us realize the dreams we had. We hope they’re all good, may God bless their lives.”

“We’re still going to paint the house,” says Migdalia. “And put up formal doors and put in a wooden ceiling.”

Now, Migdalia and her family are living a quiet, content life independently. They are located at the end of a long driveway surrounded by fields. It’s quiet at their place. And the family is free to continue growing.





The Agusto and Valerina Family


“I decided to fight so that I could be independent.”

Some fights require a struggle against another person, other against a government. Agusto’s was against the cycle of poverty.

Agusto and his wife, Valerina, had lived in a little hillside on the outskirts of Momostenango for a long time. The house wasn’t theirs – it belonged to Josefina, Agusto’s mother. The house was made of adobe, an building material made from earth, water, and calcium. It was in a aging condition, as the walls of adobe homes don’t last long if they aren’t covered with cement.

Valerina, Agusto, and Agusto’s mother weren’t the only ones in the home. There were four more family members that shared a total of 2-3 rooms, depending on how you define a “room.” Quarters were cramped, adobe walls that soak up moisture rendered damp air, and the young couple was ready to be independent.

So they turned in their paperwork for a new Habitat Guatemala home. They were approved, and within a few months they were in their new home.

One of the biggest obstacles for a Agusto and his family is the struggle against the cycle of poverty. Agusto had little money saved up for a home, and paying off a big credit is no easy task. The game changer is that Agusto has already managed to drastically improve his living conditions as he invests his money into something that he will be able to claim as his own. Habitat Guatemala provided the opportunity, and Agusto took advantage.

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Agusto makes backpacks with a sewing machine that he’s keeping in one of his new rooms. He stitches them together and sells them at the market. The room is full of packs that are ready to be assembled. Recently, he hasn’t had much luck selling the packs, but he’s brainstorming other ways to promote his business. “We’ll see what we can do,” he says.

The home has already made a big impact on the young couple, much more than simply putting a roof over their heads. Josefina, Agusto’s mother, is “happy, because he has his own place now. It’s given him energy to pay it off.”

Remembering the volunteers who helped build his house, Agusto is “thankful. Here, I’m happy. Hopefully someday they will all come back, because they are welcome in my home. Look at these photos!” He showed off all the photos he had from when the volunteers were there.


Agusto’s life has changed, and slowly he is working his way out of poverty by means of an investment through Habitat Guatemala. And for Agusto, that’s invaluable.


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The Mildred Susana Family

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It was a support that she wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

Maria Susana, a 42-year-old elementary school teacher, was living on the upper side of a hill in the village of Agua Escondida for many years with her husband and children. However, things weren’t peaches and cream forever.

Things turned sour when Mildred and her husband separated, and Mildred moved down the hill to live with her mother. Mildred’s children, 17-year-old Kelli and 21-year-old Kevin, moved between the parents’ homes as they were caught in the gray area of the separation of their parents. Sometimes they would live with mom, sometimes with dad.

Mildred, unsettled with her kids’ instability as well as her own, applied to Habitat for Humanity Guatemala to build a new home. As a single mother of two kids with a steady job, she was approved for credit.

As her home was being built during thanksgiving week, volunteers came to lend a hand. “We appreciate the work they did here,” says Mildred. “We are happily living here now. Blessings to all of your families and thanks for helping us build our house.”

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Mildred’s family life has changed. Now, her children have a bedroom – a permanent place to call home. Mildred says the best part of her new home is “the unity of my children.”

As she tells about her new house, she’s seated at the kitchen table with her mother, Maria Carlota, who lives right next door, only 20 feet away. Maria has cooked lunch in her house and has taken it to Mildred’s place because it’s so comfortable and spacious. It’s not just a unity of children, but of the entire family.

Mildred says she’s thinking about the well-being of her children, and what they will inherit down the road. She wants to be able to provide them with a space that they can call their own as well, and she has been able to achieve that through Habitat Guatemala.

The house came with a surprise benefit. When Mildred was deciding what type of home to build, she chose a reinforced model that permits the construction of a second level. So when her brother was having marital problems as well, Mildred was able to provide him with a space to build – right on top of her own house. Since the original construction of the Habitat home, there has been an expansion on the side and a second level on top. Mildred says they wouldn’t have been able to achieve what they’ve done without the original support of Habitat Guatemala.

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Check it out - a Habitat Smokeless Stove built in to the house!

Check it out – a Habitat Smokeless Stove built in to the house!

The Byron Batres Family

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One moment and everything changed for Byron and his family. Byron and his siblings were out of the house when they got word that there was explosion, and that the explosion had taken place inside their house. Byron rushed home to find out what had happened.

His parents were cooking using a gas stove, and it had exploded. The impact was even harder when Byron found out that his parents were inside and had been critically injured. They did not die instantly, but both parents passed away within a few months.

So Byron and his three siblings – two of them too young to work – were left with the remnants of a burned house and no parents. The house was made partially of block and partially of wooden plank, except for one room that was made purely of block. Byron and his siblings all moved into that little room, and that’s where they lived for three months.

It was three months of ashy walls, cramped quarters, and horrific memories.

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They realized they couldn’t go on like that. Byron talked to his local Habitat Guatemala affiliate in Chimaltenango, and was quickly approved for a new home. The construction was aided by the help of volunteers from Habitat for Humanity of Evansville.

Byron says he’s really thankful for the help that the students gave him. “It’s a shame they were only here for a little time,” he says. “A thousand thanks for the help.”

Byron has already painted every paintable surface in the house, including staining the cement floor red. With the help of his siblings he’s planning to keep adding furniture, making it feel more homey.  Byron says that looking at the old house “still takes a toll.” The family of siblings has moved on and is continuing to recover, and having a new clean uncluttered home without any remnants of ash is certainly helpful.



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The Lidia Noemi Saniq Family

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It’s quiet outside Lidia’s new house.

A couple of cows that smack their lips on the grass in the field in front of her house. The silence is innocently interrupted by bike treads on the gravel road. 14-year-old Angel rides his bike up to the house, expertly over the cement ledge of the patio, and into the doorway.

“It was sad that we were paying rent,” says Angel. He speaks eloquently, much more articulately than most 14-year-olds.

The family was paying for a place in the city of Tecpán. They were renting, and it was causing problems. There was the financial aspect – that the family couldn’t afford to keep paying with no investment. And there was the dignity aspect – the family’s home wasn’t really theirs.

“Better for us to take out a credit with Habitat,” says Angel. He speaks like an expert on the topic.

The family was approved for credit, and before long their home was going up. In early June, the family moved to the new home. As he gives a little house tour, Angel apologizes for the mess. “We’re still moving in, but as I’m in school and my mom is working, it doesn’t give us very much time to get settled in.”

Angel remembers the group of volunteers and wanted to pass along the family’s thanks. “Thanks for all of the effort that you did, the house went up in a short time,” he says. He sends all his greetings on behalf of the family.

The family has plans to put up a wall around the house for added privacy when they get the chance and the funds are flowing. For now, they are getting their possessions arranged in their new home – a place that they can finally call theirs.





The Anastasia and Miguel Family

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Anastasia opens the door. Her house is clear from clutter, well-painted, and very well-organized. The floor is stained red, the walls are painted yellow, and in lieu of interior doors there are curtains that are well-kept. It’s obvious that Anastasia and her husband take a huge pride in the ownership of their new home.

But things weren’t always so comfortable.

Anastasia and her husband Miguel were living with Miguel’s parents even after getting married. In that house, they shared a very small space.

“We only had a room,” says Anastasia. “That’s where we cooked and slept. It was really small and uncomfortable.” The couple shared a little room and that’s where they lived. The room was only a tiny bit bigger than their new living room. “We had everything in that one room.”

The house was in a decintegrating state as well. The house wasn’t made of earthquake-resistant block. It was made of adobe, a cheap mixture of earth, calcium, and water. Lots of homes in rural Guatemala are made from this affordable material, but it causes huge risks to health and security when the walls absorb water and become “humid.” The house Anastasia and Miguel were living in had reached an unsafe level of dampness that caused the indoor air to be constantly humid.

“I continually got sick,” says Anastasia. “Coughing, the flu…”

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But that wasn’t the worst. Anastasia says that the worst part of living in the old house was her mother-in-law.

“She always accused us of using too much water and electricity. She would shut off the electricity to our house from 5:30 in the morning until 7 at night.”

The 25-year-old couple was finished with living under somebody else’s roof. They partnered with Habitat Guatemala and within a short time, volunteers were helping to build the house.

“I am so thankful for you unconditional support,” says Anastasia of the volunteers. “You’ve left a special memory for me, and for that we are happy. May God bless all of your families with good heatlh. You’ve been a part of my family, reaching my heart. I love you all.”

Now that she’s in her new house, everything is different. She and her husband have space. There’s no noise outside. And there’s no voice telling them what they can and can’t do.

“How different is this,” she says. “Now there’s peace! I can do whatever I want and nobody will scold me.”

Anastasia and Miguel have gained their independence and their peace through a Habitat house, something they are very grateful for. And the effect is obvious in the evident care that the house receives.

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