GT Week 2: Natural Disaster Prevention and Relief

For the second week of our Giving Tuesday campaign we are talking about our involvement with natural disaster prevention and relief. Habitat Guatemala supports Guatemalan families in the most challenging times to rebuild their lives. But we could not do this, sometimes lifesaving, without the faithful support of our partners.

Habitat Guatemala is well qualified to deliver natural disaster programs having:

– Been a leader in the provision of sustainable housing solutions in Guatemala for decades.
– Trained more than 15,000 people in disaster preparedness and mitigation since 2012
– A comprehensive ground up committee structure that connects Habitat to community leaders who can influence change and inform us of current need (A 2005 study revealed that local community committees are the most active bodies in Guatemala).
– An established project methodology born from experience.

View the images below to learn even more about the programs we have created:

Giving Tuesday: What is giving?

Each week leading up to Giving Tuesday (December 2nd, 2014) we are going to share our ideas about giving, and where Habitat for Humanity Guatemala could use your giving heart to benefit families across Guatemala. To start week one we wanted to share some of our favorite quotes about what it means to give, and why it is important to give.

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Giving Tuesday

Habitat for Humanity Guatemala is preparing for Giving Tuesday. The Tuesday after Thanksgiving, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

givingtuesdayIt’s a simple idea: find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give thanks by giving to a charity in need of their support.

Throughout the 6 weeks before Giving Tuesday, HFHG will be sharing information different projects we hope to grow support for, while celebrating the true meaning of GIVING.

You can help. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.

Check out the rest of the blog to learn more information about our Giving Tuesday campaign.


Meet Our Team

Habitat for Humanity Guatemala has over 230 employees nationally. Only 7 of these employees are not native to Guatemala, but nonetheless everyone joins together for Habitat’s greater mission: that every family in Guatemala has access to dignified housing. We wanted to introduce those of us who work with the Global Village Volunteers and the international donors. So without further ado – meet our team!










Habitat Employee Will Hike 37 Volcanic Peaks


In an attempt to raise awareness and donations for Habitat Guatemala, Steve Cook (in blue) will be joining three other hikers in undertaking the feat of summiting all 37 volcanic peaks in Guatemala. “I’m really excited about the experience,” says Steve Cook.  “I’ve been hiking volcanoes for several years in Guatemala and have spent time as a guide in some of the most beautiful places in the country, but this is a chance to do so for a great cause. I have the privilege of hiking for Habitat for Humanity Guatemala and am trying to get as many folks behind the cause of housing solutions as possible.”

On January 5th Steve, along with 3 friends, will set out on a trip across Guatemala that will expose them to every volcanic peak in the country (37 in total) in the course of 27 days. “That’s the first question I get asked often,” says Steve. “Doesn’t that mean we will have to spend some days climbing more than one peak? And the simple answer is – yes. We know it’s a challenge. But if it were easy, it wouldn’t be as fun.” In addition to their grueling schedule, the group will see 3 active volcanoes as well as Central America’s highest peak.

The team has already been published in Men’s Journal and are continuing to look for other ways to get their story to as many people as possible.37in27-01

“At the end of the day, It’s going to be a huge challenge for us, but the end game for me is getting more people aware of some of the housing-solution challenges in Guatemala and what Habitat for Humanity is doing to partner with families in providing opportunites. If more people knew how affordable it was to provide a family with a real house to live in, or  with clean water or a smokeless kitchen I think they would want to know how to be part of the solution.”

Steve is hoping people sponsor him via a donation to Habitat for Humanity Guatemala, either per volcano he climbs, or as a one time donation. “For just $130 a family can receive a new stove in their home that saves them from inhaling deadly chemicals, or for $73 a family can have a water filter that gives them clean drinking water. It’s that easy to make a difference.”

Want to get even more involved?

steve“Come join us for the fun,” Steve says. While the challenging schedule limits what hikes are open to the public, Steve and his companions hope to have friends and supporters  join them on Volcanoes Acatenango, Chikabal and a huge closing ceremony on Volcan Pacaya on January 31st. Can’t make it then? “Just give me a call next time you are headed to Guatemala on a Global Village trip to build a house for a local family, and I’ll take you up a volcano.”

To follow Steve’s journey or give a donation you can visit 37in27’s website and Facebook page.


7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Affects Guatemala

_DSC6858On July 7th, 2014 at 7:23 a.m ET, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit the town of Puerto Madero, Mexico, near the Guatemalan border – the quake was felt through Guatemala and even places in El Salvador.

According to three days after the quake, the following instances were reported in Guatemala:

– Three deaths were reported in San Marcos.

– One death was reported in Quetzaltenango due to a cardiac arrest.

-(Unconfirmed)  One death was reported in Escuintla due to a cardiac arrest.
– 35 people were injured and 135 homes were damaged in Sibinal.
– A schools was heavily damaged in Comitancillo.
– Schools were damaged in Retalhuleu.

– The cathedral of San Pedro Sacatepequez was heavily damaged. Moderate to heavy damage was seen in the mall and homes in this city, a sinkhole opened in the parking lot of a park. Water and power services were also affected.
– Both towers of a church in Ixchiguan are about to collapse, homes collapsed or suffered heavy damage in this town.
– 48 homes were heavily damaged in La Reforma.
– 8 homes in La Esperanza were damaged.
– The health center of Santa Cruz Mulua was damaged.
– Unconfirmed reports indicate that the municipal building of Tajamulco collapsed, heavy damage has been reported around the town.
– A landslide happened in El Tumbador, also buildings were heavily damaged.
– Damage reported in cemeteries of San Marcos, San Rafael Pie de la Cuesta, San Cristóbal Cucho and Feria, at least 120 graves were damaged.
– Big landslides have blocked routes in San Cristóbal Cucho. A fire station was severely damaged as well as several homes.
– Some injuries were reported in Huehuetenango including two kids that were injured by a collapsed wall; homes, municipal buildings and a school were damaged , the tribunal was flooded due to a broken pipe.
– Moderate damage can be seen in Mazatenango, schools, government buildings, churches and homes are damaged. There is an unconfirmed report of damage in the water treatment plant.
– A landslide blocked the route of Colomba.
– A landslide has blocked the routhe between Colomba and San Juan Ostuncalco.
– 26 schools were damaged in Chicacao, as well as several homes.
– 10 houses in Cajola have been damaged, 36 people have been evacuated.
-A church in Samayac suffered heavy damage.
– 14 schools were damaged in San Antonio Suchitepéquez. Structural damage has been reported around the city.
– In Totonicapan 2 homes collapsed and several more were damaged, 4 schools were also damaged.
– In San Pablo Jocopilas minor landslides were reported and there was no power in some zones.

These reports make evident how a natural disaster can affect the daily lives of several families throughout Guatemala.

Habitat for Humanity Guatemala has recognized this issue and therefore has invested in a Disaster Response and Prevention program.  Not only do we support families who have been affected by quakes such as these, but we work to reduce vulnerability to the potential damage to life and property caused by natural disasters. We build on safe and suitable terrain and we provide the best practices and training for health and risk management.

You can help us in our efforts to respond to this natural disaster. Donate now.



Agroecological practices for food sovereignty

agroecological1 As a prelude to her participation in the Sixth National Social Housing Forum of Habitat for Humanity Guatemala, Gabriela Lucas Deecke shared some of her life and enriching experiences in agriculture.

A green life, a green professional
Gabriela Lucas grew up in a coffee farm on the slopes of the volcano Tacaná, Chiapas, Mexico, and says about those years “I had a childhood very wild and very green.” As a young woman, she was interested in studying medicine, but the intervention of a counselor changed her mind and focused on another path that would end up impacting the lives of many Latin Americans.
The shortage of people involved in food production in Mexico is palpable, and the possibility to help farmers convinced her to study Agronomy. During her career she developed a strong interest in the soil, because as mentioned, “I realized that our civilization would disappear without soil.” Then she studied for a master’s degree in Integrated Accounts Management with a thesis on Practices of Soil and Water Conservation, and later received a master’s in Rural Tourism.

She worked for 10 years as Secretary of Economic Development at the municipal level and as Technical Assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture of the State of Queretaro and statewide Regional Director. Since 2006, she engaged in the production of food for her family and in 2011 founded the Center of Innovation in Small Scale Sustainable Agriculture (CIASPE by its acronym in Spanish) with businessman Oscar Peralta Navarrete.

Another way to address agriculture

GL2A “turning point” in her life was the Bio-intensive Agriculture course she received with Juan Manuel Martinez from Ecology Action. This motivated her, along with her husband and three children, to start a productive adventure realizing that a home garden was a difficult task despite the knowledge she had accumulated. This caught the attention of Mr. Oscar Peralta, who was interested in the family garden and wanted to join Lucas to replicate the experience in Mexico. From this CIASPE was born.

She mentions that, “It is predicted that in 50 years most of the surface of the earth will be desert.” This data along with the lack of access to new techniques for farmers, land and water scarcity, lack of funding and reluctance of youth to work in the fields, create a disturbing image. Given this, as an agronomist engineer, she is convinced that agro ecological practices are the only way to produce food while halting and reversing the damage done to the environment and soil, improving the living conditions of small farmers.

The path to food sovereignty
Lucas has supported several projects that aim to improve food production. She is very proud of the women’s groups in the indigenous areas of Querétaro, who are responsible for growng and serving food. Working with them has allowed, in addition to producing food, the promotion of vitamin-enriched diets. She also collaborates with an organization in Chile on a project that shares the concern for food sovereignty. In the Dominican Republic, she began working together with the Catholic University and Technology of Cibaoto to establish an agro ecological practices demonstration center and to promote the bio-intensive method. Also, she is organizing the Latin American Meeting of bio-intensive agriculture in November, where the creator of the method, John Jeavons, will be present.

Intervention in Guatemala
agroecological3With Habitat for Humanity in Guatemala, Lucas participates in a project located in Macalajau, Uspantán, El Quiché, saying, “Knowing the people here reaffirms the need that exists in all our people to share knowledge to help us reclaim our food sovereignty.”
During her visit to Guatemala, on the occasion of World Habitat Day and the IV National Social Housing Forum, she shared the magnitude of the current food crisis. Faced with all the information of this crisis, the expert discussed the practices that can be applied to counter the situation. She ends anticipating, “I will share the major paradoxes in which we live and what we can do from home, which has to become not only a space to protect us from the weather but also a productive space.”
The VI National Social Housing Forum was held last Wednesday, October 9 at the Hotel Real InterContinental Guatemala City.