Smokeless Stove: Hortensia Tubac

Hortensia lives with her five children Vilma (27), Danny (23), Olga (21), Roxana (20) and Wilmer (13) in the village of El Duranzo, Chimaltenango.

For twelve years, Hortensia cooked over an open flame adobe stove, the smoke would fill the air of her kitchen causing smoke to enter her eyes and causing a cough. She had problems with the smoke before because it filled the area. “Now everything leaves,” she says. Hortensia, beams when talking about the new stove she received thanks to the volunteers with Habitat.

She likes her stove because it saves wood—she now uses only two pieces. “It’s good for cooking my food, especially my tortillas and her atol, a traditional central American dish made of corn. Her message for the brigade is this, “it was a pleasure to have you with us –you helped us in this and we never had to wait, thanks to God and to you for helping us with us.”

Smokeless Stove: Estella Ixlá

Estella Ixla and her family of seven live in El Durazno, Chimaltenango. Estella is a homemaker and her husband, Samuel, works in agriculture.

She shares with us the effect that having her smokeless stove has had on her daily life. “Before a lot of wood was wasted but now we actually save wood.” “I can cook a lot at the same time, and I can make my tortillas.” When asked about her favorite meal to prepare she says she loves to cook everything on her new stove because it’s so much quicker. And then she adds “but especially pepian,” a traditional dish made of grilled tomato, onion, cilantro, garlic, vegetables and peppers.

To the group of volunteers, Estella sends this message, “I want to say the them, thank you, for giving us this stove because of your help we are better.”

Smokeless Stove: Dorotea Chon

Dorotea Chon Recopachi, her husband and 4 children live in the village of El Rejon Sumpango. Dorotea’s husband works in agriculture while Dorotea is a homemaker. The family has lived in their current house for fifteen years, where all the girls Jenny, Dora, Karen  and Kay were born and raised. For most of those fifteen years, Dorotea has cooked with an open fire “pollo” stove, the smoke from the wood affected her eyes, her throat and even her nerves, Dorotea says.

Recently, the family received a smokeless stoves. “Now (the smoke) leaves the house, it goes outside.”

She mentioned that not only does the smoke leave the house but the stove also saves wood. “I can cook all of my food at once, all of our breakfast is easier to make and even all the food before we go out to the fields.”

Having her new stove has changed her family’s life, now they all sit around the stove, which is big enough to be used as a table and now used to enjoy families meals together. “They can be this close to the stove and nobody gets burned” Dorotea demonstrated as one of her children ate, she shared that the kids sometimes got burnt while near the old stove.

Dorotea and her family are thankful to the volunteers who came and helped to build her new stove “I love it and i am so thankful to God and to the volunteers for coming so far to be with us and to give us such a beautiful gift.”

Smokeless Stove: Esteban Olivia Recopachi

Doña Esteban is a homemaker and lives in the village of El Rejon Sumpango. Her husband, Macario is a farmer and together they have two sons, Flavio and Anibal. After living in their current home for 33 years, Doña Esteban received her first smokeless stove, thanks to those who came to build, just 8 months ago.

Before her current stove, Doña Esteban cooked on an adobe stove that she used inside her house. The new stove has changed her life because it removes smoke from the house and economizes their wood use. With the stove, she says, her frijoles turn out very beautiful, The stove heats food evenly and cooks the food more quickly.

She learned about the project through Doña Margarita, a community leader within El Rejon Sumpango, and let Doña Esteban her know she had seen the stove that others in her community now had and saw benefit in having a smokeless stove for her own family. “Thanks to her, she connected us to Habitat and in just a few months, the volunteers came to help us build a stove.” “Thank you to everyone who came to give us such a gift, our family life is better now because you came.”

Smokeless Stove: Maria Veronica Gallina Solis

Maria and Oscar live with their two sons Wilfredo (12) and Ervin Elias (9) in the village of El Rejon Sumpango. Maria is a homemaker while Oscar takes care of the family’s farm while their sons are enrolled in school. They’ve lived in their current house for 12 years and just 6 months ago, they received a new smokeless stove through Habitat. Maria’s favorite feature of the stove is its space, because she can cook a lot of things at once.

“When its only one stove, you can only cook one thing at a time, you can’t do more than that.” “A lot of things I owned were ruined, most of my things the smoke turned yellow” She demonstrated soot left on walls in the house and talked about how the fire from the old stove would char the walls, melted some of her utensils and turned others with a yellowish color. Now, with her new stove, she no longer has to inhale smoke fumes, and her utensils no longer melt from the fire.

When asked her favorite thing to cook on her new stove, “frijoles” she says, “it doesn’t spill into the fire like before.” The high temperature from the former stove, made it hard to control the heat causing the beans would boil over. Now with the new stove, the fire is evenly conducted, and the beans are easy to cook without bubbling over and spilling out of the pot. She shared how thankful she is for the volunteers who came to build her stove, the volunteers, she says “they gave me something that makes my daily life, much more manageable.”

Roselia López Family

Doña Roselia is proud of the newly constructed home Habitat built for her. She and her husband are guardians to their grandchildren, Manuel (21), Sonia (15) and Jose Manuel (14). Two years ago, the family traveled one hour each way to their current city of Parramos where their grandchildren went go to school.

The family rented and lived in a house much closer to the town for the following year before deciding to build their own house. Their reasons were security and safety. They had lived in an unsafe part of Guatemala’s capital city and decided to move to Parramos. Once they were there, Doña Roselia and her husband wanted to leave their grandchildren with a secure place to live should anything happen to either of them as they age. “And thanks to God, we have a good roof over our heads. What we have now, is our own.” “Here I own my land – thanks to Habitat for opening the doors for our home because here I don’t have to leave, I don’t have to rent. I have my own home.”

When asked about the volunteers Doña Roselia shares, “it was such a happy moment that they came to help us.” “They gave us a very good experience. I care about them and they care about us. They were very hardworking and were very loving—very good people, all of them” Roselia shares.

Roselia also sends her heartfelt thanks, “I send my blessings that if you want to come, the doors to our home are open to you.”

Rosalina Galicia Family

Rosalina, her husband and three children live on a hillside of Colonia Puerto Rico that overlooks the nearby city of Chimaltenango—it’s a beautiful property. The view of the surrounding mountains is green, verdant and expansive. Rosalina’s father owns the land and gifted Rosalina and her husband the land, but building a house was a costly undertaking they simply couldn’t afford.

A neighbor shared with them about Habitat –the organization would afford them the opportunity to build their own home, if they could secure their own land – land Rosalina’s father already had ready for them. Rather than continuing to rent the house they were in –they decided to pursue the opportunity of having their own house. “We knew we could be pushed out at any moment,” Rosalina said. When asked how she feels having her own house, she said, “I feel content, it’s our house, our own property. The kids are well and we are very happy.”

The family remembers the volunteers who came to help them build. “They were very kind. When they left, almost all of us cried.” “We want you to know that we remember you all a lot, the kids ask for you, whether we can call you, when you’re coming next, and when is the next time you can play?” “I show them the photos we have and remind them of the joyful time—you are in our hearts.”

Smokeless Stove: Ruthilia Velásquez

Maria Ruthilia along with her husband Marvin Danilo and their three children, Marvin (14), Vivian (10) and Axel (2) live in a small community in Chimaltenango. Before partnering with Habitat Guatemala to receive a smokeless stove, Maria used to cook over an open flame “pollo”. The smoke affected her and “whenever it rained, the fire was hard to maintain, especially when there was wind.” “Now it doesn’t matter if it rains, the fire is in one place and it’s protected.” “We also use very little wood now.”

Her favorite thing to cook with the new stove is frijoles, “because it’s what we eat the most,” she says, “I can make 3 or 4 things at once and still have room to make my coffee or atol (a hot traditional drink).”

To the volunteers that helped to construct her stove, Maria Ruthilia sends this message, “honestly I will never forget them because I am so grateful. They came to build and I feel like I have won something. Thanks to God we are doing well now.”