Vicenta Saloj – Hybrid House Program

Vicenta (34), and her three children, Michael (17), Jennifer (13) and Britney (9), are the proud owners of a new Hybrid House, in the municipality of Santa Lucía Utatlán, Sololá. Vicenta is a single mother who works in the fields, cleans houses, washes cloths, among other tasks, while Michael also works in the fields, Jennifer and Britney are studying.

Vicenta and her family are part of our new Hybrid House Program, which is a two room home built with a mix of traditional materials: adobe blocks, cement blocks, and wood.

Quick facts about the new Hybrid Home:

1. At just $3,300 USD, it costs less than half the price of a standard HFHG home.

2. The home is partially subsidized, acknowledging that the population we are serving does not have access to an income that would allow them to pay a mortgage. The family contributes sweat equity, creating the adobe blocks as well as participating in the construction of their new home.

3. The structure can be built in a time frame of approximately a two weeks.

4. This is a new effort to support the sector of the population that is living in the poorest conditions.

5.  The house also includes an smokeless stove, sanitary latrine, water filter and a “pila”

As previously explained, this solution is partially subsidized which means that beneficiary families are asked to contribute towards the cost of materials, provide unskilled labor such as preparing the adobe blocks, among other tasks.

Before partnering with Habitat Guatemala, Vicenta mentioned that her and her family used to live in a house built out of old pieces of wood. They lived this way for over 15 years. “We were living in only one room built out of old pieces of wood that was already rotten. During the night, I did not sleep, because I was just guarding my children, watching that they did not one suffer from cold,” says Vicenta.

One day, Vicenta received a visit from Habitat staff. She showed them his house and the way that they were living. The staff explained the program and that she was selected as one of the beneficiaries. “It was a complete surprise for my family and I! when they explained all the process and the few expenses I had to make I answered; ” I do not have any money, but this is going to be our house, the opportunity to improve the life of my children. So, I am going to find the way, I am going to work extra hours and find new incomes.  I said to my children, that we were going to maybe miss a piece of bread during the process, but it was going to be of big benefit in the future,” mentions Vicenta.

When asked how they feel with their new home,  Vicenta answers, “When we received the news of our house being approved, it was of great joy!! And when we saw all the materials arriving, it finally it us, it was a reality!” she continues, “We feel very very happy, I watch my girls playing happily inside the house. Michael mentions that he feels comfortable in the house too, we are very very grateful to all the people who supported us to build our home!  Jennifer adds, “I feel happy, content with our new house. I feel safe too! the old one was insecure and cold. Britany adds “I feel very happy too, i was scared of being there.”  In the future, the family is planning to add a garden.

Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Vicenta mentions, “These times have been complicated, we have had lack of work and other things, but having our house has made us feel safer. We have one thing less to worry about now, because this house is well built, we do not have to worry about the rain, cold or sun. During this pandemic we have enjoyed staying inside our house, girls can play and enjoy. We stay inside the house, while Im cooking, they are playing in the room. We are all together, and safe. ”

As part of the Hybrid House Programs, families also receive,  a smokeless stove, a sanitary latrine a water filter and a pila This helps them improve their health by giving them adequate access to proper sanitation, potable water and a smoke free environment. The family  had felt a difference with their  new water filter. Before, they drank water directly from the sink, which caused them to suffer from intestinal distress. Now, it is easier and safer to drink potable water from the filter. Regarding the stove, Vicenta used to cook over an open fire on the floor, causing the smoke to stay inside their house, “the new one is much different, it is working great and consumes less wood. We no longer have to go and gather very often. Regarding their old latrine, they shared it with 10 more relatives. “Now, we have our own room, and we feel happy with it! we are happy with all our products,” says Vicenta.

When asked about her favorite part of the house, Vicenta smiles and answers: “Everything! first of all, I like the floor because it is easy to clean,

Vicenta and the girls share their memories and experiences during the week of construction with the volunteers: “It was a very special week for us. We were happy to meet and receive people from other country! They worked very hard, hand by hand next to us and we had so much fun too.” Jennifer adds: “We felt really happy, I spend time with people that I did not know before, but felt like family. I will always cherish them in my heart.” When asked about her favorite part of the house, Vicenta smiles and answers: “Everything! first of all, I like the floor because it is easy to clean, I like the windows for clarity and keeps the house fresh.”  Jennifer and Britany add, “We just like everything! We enjoy to listen to music, we like to draw and read, just to play together.”

Vicenta finishes by sharing a message to the volunteers, “We thank you from the bottom of our heart for your support. May God bless you and your family. THANK YOU for coming to build with us, you are now part of our family, we love you and will never forget you. We hope to see you again someday, feel welcome to come and visit us.”  Jennifer adds ” Thank you for taking the time to come and build with us our new. It is very very pretty!

Healthy Home Kit – Tomasa Tol – Rotary Club of Greater Bend

Doña Tomasa lives with her husband, Nicolas, and their eight children, in the community of Panimaché, Chichicastenango, in the department of Quiché.

As part of Habitat Guatemala’s Healthy Home Kit, families receive a smokeless stove, a sanitary latrine and a water filter. This helps them improve their health by giving them adequate access to proper sanitation, potable water and a smoke free environment. When Tomasa and her family found out about this project through the local committee representative, they knew it was a great opportunity to improve their family’s quality of life.

We used to cook over an open flame for more than 20 years. The smoke made me sick and bothered my eyes,” she continues, “Now, we are very content with our new stove. We were not able to afford any of these products, but now, I feel happy! We no longer use a lot of wood and the smoke stays outside of our kitchen!

Before receiving their new latrine, Tomasa explains that the old one was old and in poor condition. Like their stove, the family used their latrine for more than 20 years. “The new one is utz (great). It is very different than the old one! It is more comfortable and safe,” explains Tomasa. The family has also felt a difference with their  new water filter. Before, they drank water directly from the sink, which caused them to suffer from intestinal distress. Now, it is easier and safer to drink potable water from the filter. “The water inside the filter stays fresh and all my children can drink when they want,” Tomasa mentions.

Tomasa finishes by sharing a message to the Rotary Club of Greater Bend and Rotary Club La Ermita, “Thank you for supporting us with these products. May God bless you all.

Healthy Home Kit – Lady Cojtí – Rotary Club of Greater Bend

Lady (23) lives with her husband, Cruz (25), and their 2 children, Ángel (3) and Fernanda ( 8 months), in the community of Las Canoas Altas, near Lake Atitlán, in the departament of Sololá. Cruz works in the fields, while Lady stays home and takes care of the household.

As part of Habitat Guatemala’s Healthy Home Kit, families receive a smokeless stove, a sanitary latrine and a water filter. This helps them improve their health by giving them adequate access to proper sanitation, potable water and a smoke free environment. When Lady and her family found out about this project through the local committee representative, they knew it was a great opportunity to improve their family’s quality of life. “A year ago, we moved to our own house, and some relatives gifted us with a small grill but it was very uncomfortable, and the smoke was very harmful to my eyes,” says Lady. When asked how she feels with her new stove, she answers, “I feel happy, my new stove is working great! I can cook easily and it heats up fast. Plus, the smoke no longer stays inside our kitchen.”

Before receiving their new latrine, Lady explains that as a family they did not have a latrine for themselves, they had to share one with her in-laws and eight other relatives. “Now, we have our own latrine, our own privacy!” explains Lady. Things are going great with their water filter too. Now, they can drink potable water and not get sick.

Lady finishes with a message to Rotary Club of Greater Bend and Rotary Club La Ermita, “Thank you all for supporting us, and thanks to God as well. As a family, we are very grateful to all of you… especially during these difficult times. We might not be able to pay you back for these products, but we continue praying for all of you.

Engels Barrios – Huron Valley – Sarah Teare

Engels Barrios (33), is the proud new owner of a Habitat home! He lives by his own, next to three more houses inhabited by his siblings, who also built with Habitat in the past.  Engels is currently working as sales and business advisor.

Before partnering with Habitat Guatemala to build his home, Engels rented several houses for almost 8 years; “When I was renting, it was very uncomfortable because I had to be packing and moving my stuff all the time. So, one day my parents gave me this piece of land, and I decided it was time to build my own house,” he refers.

When we asked how he feels with his new home, Engels answered, “I feel great! Knowing that now I am paying for something that is for my own is very satisfactory, because I do not have to worry anymore about having to leave a place, and I am thankful for that.”  In the future, Engels is planning to build some fences or walls outside the house and add a second floor.

Regarding to COVID-19 pandemic, Engels mentions, “Regarding to that, now I know that I can come back home and be safe here, it is the best feeling.” he continues, “what I enjoy the most of my house is that, even though outside is very warm or cold, inside it stays fresh and cool.”

About the time shared with the volunteers Engels recalls, “Because of work I could not be present during that week, but my family, specially my sister, Lissette, and my parents, were here, and everyday they shared pictures and videos with me,” he continues, “It was a great week, they not only helped my family, but the community, because they were playing with all the children from the block and they were all really happy.”

He finished by sharing a message to the volunteers, “Thank you all very much for your support, even though I could not be present, receive our greetings from me, and my family,” he continues “I invite you to continue on supporting more families.”

 

Uk’u’x já Project – The Tum Family

Doña Juana lives with her husband, Jorge, and their three children, Silvia (17), Gaspar (15), and Oscar (12) in the community of Batzul, Chajul, in the department of El Quiché. Juana takes care of the home, while Jorge works in the field, and he is also a part of the local leadership committee in his community.

Before partnering up with Habitat Guatemala to receive a Smokeless Stove, the family cooked, for more than 10 years, on a stove that was in poor conditions. “Our stove was very old, causing the smoke to stay inside our kitchen. It caused my wife to suffer from several diseases,” he continues, “when they showed us the design of the stove, I decided to demolish my old kitchen, which was full of holes and rotten pieces of wood, and we built a new one. You can see it is new, we have a new kitchen and a new stove now!” says Jorge.

Both Jorge and Juana feel content with their new stove; “We are very grateful and feel happy with it! It has been a great improvement for us to receive this new model of stove.” Juana adds: “I can cook all of our meals at the same time, the smoke goes outside, and we are saving wood at the same time!”

They conclude by sharing a message to the donors: “Thanks to each one of you! May God bless you! Thank you for visiting us and supporting us with this project for our community.” – Jorge.

(pictured, the family’s old stove)

 

Uk’u’x já Project – The López Family

Doña Teresa lives with her husband, Sebastián, and their three children, Francisco (18), Susana (15) and Marta (6), in the community  of Chemal, Chajul, Nebaj, in the department of Quiché. Teresa takes care of the home, while Sebastián and Francisco work in the field.

Before partnering up with Habitat Guatemala to receive a Smokeless Stove, Teresa used to cook over an open flame on the floor, which is called a “poyo” in Spanish. “I used to cook on the floor, the smoke made my eyes red and caused my children and I to get sick as well as suffer from headaches,” she explains.

Now, after a few months of using their new stove, Teresa feels really happy with it; “We are content with our stove, it is working well. There is no more smoke inside our kitchen anymore, and we have no more teary eyes!” She continues, “Now, I can cook all of my meals… tortillas, atol, and beans, at the same time.”

They finish by sharing a message to the donors: “We are very grateful to you all for your support and for providing us with this stove to improve our health” – Teresa.

(pictured, Teresa’s old stove, or “poyo”)

 

Uk’u’x já Project – The Chávez Family

Doña Martha lives with her husband and their four children, Juan (10), Ana (7), Kevin (5) and Nelson (7 months) in the community of Pasojoc I, Zacualpa, in the department of El Quiché. Martha takes care of the home, while her husband works in the field.

Before partnering up with Habitat Guatemala to receive a Smokeless Stove, Martha used to cook over an open flame on the floor, which is called a “poyo” in Spanish. “The old stove was in poor conditions, and it consumed much more wood, I cooked on it for seven years,” says Martha. Cooking like this, caused her to suffer from different respiratory diseases and red eyes due to the smoke, which is very common problem with women, as most of them take care of the house chores.

She feels satisfied with her new stove; “I feel happy with my new stove! Now, when I prepare my tortillas I do not have to be on my knees, I can just stand up by the stove, without my knees or back hurting.”

Martha sends a message to the donors: “Tiox! Thanks to all the institutions involved in this project. Thank you for providing us with this stove.”

(pictured, Martha’s old, or “poyo”)

Uk’u’x já Project – The Hernández Family

Antonia lives with her husband, Antonio, four of their children, and their grandson, Antonio Jr., in the community of Chemal, Chajul, in the department of El Quiché. Antonia and her daughters take care of the home, while Antonio works in the field.

Before partnering up with Habitat Guatemala to receive a Smokeless Stove, Antonia used to cook over an open flame on the floor, which is called a “poyo” in Spanish. “Our poyo was built with a grill over some blocks. We cooked like that for over 15 years,” says Antonia. This caused her and her family different respiratory diseases and red eyes due of the smoke that stayed inside the house.

Antonia feels really happy with her new stove; “Our new stove is completely different!” She continues, “Now, we only use three or four pieces of wood. With the old one, we used up to 10-15 pieces every time we wanted to cook. And the best part is, that smoke leaves the house!”

They finish by sharing a message to the donors: “Thank you for providing us with this stove, we are improving our health now that we have it.” – Antonia.

(Pictured, the family’s old stove, or “poyo”)