Smokeless Stove: Olga Sazo

Olga, her husband Juan Carlos and their baby son, Charlie (9 months) live in Solola. Olga is a homemaker and Juan Carlos works as a tailor. The family have lived in their home for 1 year now. One month after moving into their home, a group of volunteers came to their house to complete their Habitat smokeless stove.

Olga talks openly about her new stove. “Before we had a small stove with a tunnel – a small receiver filled with sand—it produced a lot of smoke. I feel good with this new stove because it does not  need a lot of wood and it facilitates my cooking much better.” The previous stove also affected her health she says. “Before this stove I would have to leave the kitchen because of the smoke, but now no, it is not necessary.” Olga says her favorite thing is “preparing chicken in cream” for her family.

Of the volunteers, Olga says, “they were kind and we are very grateful for them, because the truth is having a young family, we have just started to live – having this help and this benefit, it means a lot,” she says. “I hope that God will bless you. That he will help your family for the help that you gave us.”


Smokeless Stove: Encarnación Queché

Encarnación and her husband, Pablo have lived in their home since they first moved in as a couple 40 years ago. All of her children were raised in the house. We met with the couple and the youngest four of her six children, Irene (28), Clara (26), Edwin (20), and Emerson (18) to discuss the Habitat stove that the family received just this past year.

The difference with this stove, Encarnación says is, “there is not any smoke with this new one. Before we cooked with a similar stove” which Encarnación points to sitting closeby “but it does not work.” “I like how quickly things cook with the new stove” she says.

When asked about her favorite thing to cook on the new stove, Encarnación says, “chicken, chicken of all kinds” When asked the same question, a battle of sorts for favorite child takes place between the siblings, “everything, mom makes” says Edwin, trying to vie for first place! “Mom’s fried rice” says Emerson, “chicken fingers” says Irene and traditional “hierba” says Clara. The siblings are adamantly shy, not wanting to be photographed but smiling at seeing their mom take pictures with the family’s new stove and enjoying the experience as equally their own.

Of the volunteers the family said, “we remember all their names” and laughed as they shared about their time together, recounting their experience, “ the group was very kind, and we enjoyed having them,” says Encarnacion, “thank you for all that you did and thank you for this stove.”

Smokeless Stove: Emelia Yac

Emelia, Ronald and their two daughters, Susan (2) and Stephanie (6 months) live in Sololá. Emelia is a homemaker, and Ronald is a tailor.

The family have lived in their current house for 1 year now and recently received a Habitat stove. Prior to their new stove Emelia says, “I cooked here on a comal on the ground” a small grill, which the family propped up with stones. “The stove produced a lot of smoke and it affected me a lot. It irritated my eyes and caused a lot of coughing and it cost a lot to bend over and lift the things from the floor,” she says.

“With the wood, it is much better, and this one does not cause smoke” she says of her new stove. Her favorite dish to cook is” grilled meats, chicken, beef, it does not matter, the grill on the stove makes it easy to cook the meats this way,” she says.

Of the volunteers Emelia remembers, “they were very kind, we worked very well, we talked a lot about where everyone was from and I enjoyed having them here,” says Emelia. “Thank you for coming, it is very helpful to my family, and thank you for this benefit that you brought us.”


Oscar Eduardo Queché family

We visited the home of Habitat promoter Oscar Eduardo in the town of Panajachel, Solola. When we visited them the excitement was easily felt.

As a Habitat Promoter, Oscar has helped hundreds of families realize their own dreams, while saving towards a dream of his own—having and building his own home someday through the help of Habitat. “I love working with communities to help families improve their quality of life and I feel very happy for the work that I do to help families build stoves, latrines and houses and have better access to clean water. At Habitat, we work with families with the greatest need – I feel very proud to be a part of the work we do and I feel very satisfied to help the Foundation make these changes in the lives of families. “

Now, that the family is moved in Oscar says his favorite part of the experience “was the moment they gave me the keys. The day that I came and got the keys to the home, it was a great feeling, Its something that I do not know if I truly imagined. I knew I always wanted my own home but to have that day actualized its very beautiful.” Prior to his Habitat home, Oscar and his three-year-old daughter, Evelyn, lived with his parents.

When asked why he wanted to build his house Oscar shared, “it’s been my dream to have my own house since I was thirteen years old. At that age, I started learning how to lay blocks and build houses and I decided that a house was something I wanted.” Thirteen years later, Oscar is a proud homeowner and like many families that he has helped through his work, his dream has also been realized.

When he recalls his overall experience, the volunteers came to mind, “They were a very fun group. Everyone always came together and worked very hard. On the day the materials came, the group helped unload it all in one day and I remember how tired everyone was at the end of the day because everyone was so focused and committed to seeing it done well,” he says.

When asked about his plans for the house, Oscar says: “I plan to pay down on the amount of the house and then to put a roof that will cover the pila and wash area.” “My long term, my vision is to add a second level.”

Oscar shares a message for the volunteers: “Thank you to each and every one of you. I am grateful for the entire group and how hard they worked” says Oscar. The work of the group shows, the house is small and beautifully constructed and with final touches in place, it’s clear to understand Oscar’s enthusiasm and pride as a Habitat homeowner.

Smokeless Stove: Elogia Rosa Saquic

Elogia, Martin and their three children Rosa (13), Joshua (13) and Violeta (2) have lived in their current home for 5 years. Before partnering with Habitat Guatemala to receive a smokeless stove, the family cooked on a metal grill comal, stove. “It’s much better now,” she says. “The truth is that the smoke affected us a lot, I would have red eyes and the smoke would irritate my throat. Now we don’t have these problems,” says Elogia.

When asked her favorite thing to cooks “everything” she says; “I spend less time cooking and everything cooks well. I feel at peace, being here now when I cook in the kitchen.”

To the volunteers she sends this message, “you came to do this great work and to give your time. I am so grateful. I hope that God will bless you for the time you took to be with my family.”

Smokeless Stove: Jacinta Dolores

Jacinta and her two children Paola (18) and Danny (8) live in the village of San Lucia, Solola. Her mother Magdalena lives just next door and was there when we visited.

The family have had their Habitat stove for 6 months now and have enjoyed their experience, “before we used three rocks and a comal (metal grill) for my stove. With this stove I do not use a lot of wood and the smoke leaves” says Jacinta. “Here, I like to make my mischa tamal, my tortillas, frijoles. I use the stove to heat water for us to bathe too and everything takes less time,” she continues; “I have more time to weave and create more pieces to sell.”

Jacinta remembers very well the group of volunteers who came to build her stove. “They were kind, generous, worked peacefully and left happy as well.” She shares this message to the group, “I am grateful for you all because you helped us a lot, we carry you in this house and always talk about the time you were here. I hope that God will bless you and your lives with good health, this is my desire for you.”

Healthy Home Kit: Josefa Zapeta

Josefa, Gaspar and their three sons, Christian (13), Jose (7), Tomas (5) live in Sololá. The family have lived in their home for 14 years and just 6 months ago received their newly built Habitat stove.

“I have not used the stove much” Josefa shared. Just shortly after receiving her stove, Josefa was hospitalized “I had a lot of trouble with my vesicular. And they could not operate on it here in Sololá. I spent two weeks in the hospital in Quetzaltenango and still am not fully recovered.” Her illness left her weak and she often could not make the trip to the kitchen while she recovered.

“Now I am better, but still do not have the energy to stay for hours around the stove” she shared. When she has the opportunity and the strength to cook “I like to cook traditional dishes like chicken pepian” Josefa says. The family also obtained a water filter and latrine through Habitat. The latrine is built in the area where their old latrine was. “In the old latrine, the septic tank was full. It was concrete which also made it hard to clean. Now with the design of the new latrine, we can clean the plastic toilet seat much easier than we could with the concrete one.”

Josefa sends her gratitude to the group of volunteers. “You have made life better for my family and I am so grateful you came to help us.”

Healthy Home Kit: Crisanta López

Last year, we met Crisanta López González and six of her children – Roxana (19), Sabina (15), Juan Alberto (13), Yadira (10), Harley (7), and Taylor (6) – in San Juan Ostuncalco, a community located in the department of Quetzaltenango, in western Guatemala.

In January 2018, the lives of the López family members dramatically changed when Crisanta’s husband, Juan, passed away unexpectedly. Juan, who worked as a mason, was the family’s breadwinner. Upon his passing, Crisanta took it upon herself to provide for her children, cleaning houses and office spaces twice a week in order to put food on the table.

The family inhabits a three-bedroom house. They did not have a functional latrine. Crisanta used to cook on and old stove that was in poor conditions too, causing her and the children to have respiratory diseases and red eyes.


In light of their living conditions, Habitat Guatemala was able to provide the López family with a Healthy Home Kit, thanks to those who donated in the memory of Erasmus. This kit which consists of a Chispa stove, a water filter, and a new sanitary latrine which improves the family’s quality of life with access to proper sanitation and a smoke-free environment.

Crisanta shares how her family’s daily life has improved with the products: “Everyone is happy!” Regarding their sanitary latrine, Crisanta explains that the new one is cleaner, more comfortable and private, “I am very grateful, because I feel that all of you are my family now.” When asked about her new Chispa stove she explains, “With our new stove we do not need to use as much firewood and there is no more smoke inside the kitchen.”

Thank you to everyone who honored Erasmus’s memory by supporting Crisanta in her journey towards improving her family’s quality of life.


The stove that Cristanta was using during Habitat’s visit to her home in October 2018

The new Chispa stove that Crisanta is utilizing as of May 2019


Crisanta and Taylor in front of their new latrine in May 2019