#Meetourmasons – Manuel Felipe

Manuel Felipe is 60 years old, and with his wife, they raised 8 children. Seven years ago, one of his sons invited him to participate in the construction of smokeless stoves with Habitat Guatemala, and since then, he has been working not only in the construction of stoves, but also sanitary latrines and houses in different departments of the country, for Habitat Guatemala partner families 

When did you start working as a mason?

I studied a completely different career, but I always dreamed of building my house with my own hands, and so I did it! I started building and I found my passion. I love to build structures, houses, install electricity, plumbing, and do everything related to construction. This way, I can also help other people and serve others by building their homes. 

what do you enjoy most about working with habitat?

I love the idea of building dreams for future generations. With Habitat, I have had the opportunity to work with national and international volunteers, and I enjoy when we share experiences and work hard together. 

how do you feel by working with volunteers?

I feel proud to build alongside national and international volunteers. They are always a big support, and they are always happy and willing to work hard. I also enjoy to teach them about the constuction tasks! 

A message to the Habitat community

Thank you Habitat Guatemala, because you have given me the opportunity to work, no matter the circunstances. I love to build and I am so in love with my job! 

The Top Family

Marina and her husband, Cruz, live with their five grandchildren, Kevin (15), Jessica (12), Jayro (11) and three-year old twins Keylor (3) and Lady (3), in the community of Cerro Alto, in San Juan Sacatepéquez.   

On a daily basis, Doña Marina and Don Cruz work very hard to generate income in order to feed their family. They adopted their five grandchildren when their mother passed away. Keylor, who was born with a visual disability, requires additional care and attention.    

 The Top family home, similar to those in the area, was built in a high-risk area, with small rooms made from corrugated metal sheets and dirt floor, causing several health issues and hazards for the children. 

Thanks to the support of Byran/College Station HFH, Habitat Guatemala was able to build a new house, in order to provide Keylor and his siblings with a healthier environment. When asked how they feel about their new home, Marina responded: “We are grateful and happy my grandchildren can grow in a safe environment.” 

She sends a message for the donors: “Thank you all for caring about my family. There are not much people in this world that will help you to build a house like this one. May God bless you!” 





Zuleyka Velásquez – Thrivent – Jennifer Sperry

Zuleyca (32) and her children José Luis (6), Alexis Enrique (3) and Manuel Enrique (1) receive us smiling in their garden on the outskirts of Aldea El Xab, El Asintal, Rethaluleu. His husband, Luis Enrique,is a police officer and is currently at work.  With the support of local Habitat staff, they filled out the paperwork, applied for a bank loan and started building. . 

“We didn’t know about the installment option before.” – Zuleyca tells us – “But this was the only way we could build the house on our own. Now we have a nice house and we can pay off the installments without pressure. We also plan to enlarge the fence and build a new room. A new gate is also planned.” 

The children play serenely in the garden during our visit and bring us fruit they picked themselves. 


“We lived next door before with my mother and brother. It was very cramped. Now we have a stable house and our privacy, yet we live as a family. The children can play safely in the garden. I can take care of the chickens, cook and we also grow corn.” – Zuleyca showing  pride . 

“I almost can’t find the words, to thank all the volunteers! That someone helps us without payment is very unusual for us. We became friends and went on trips together.” – Zuleyca’s eyes light up as she tells us about her memories. 








Claudia Alvarado – Mattituck School

Claudia (43) welcomes us with a smile in her well-kept house on the outskirts of Retalhuleu . She is single and has no children of her own. As a primary school teacher, she guides many children who are on their way to adulthood. 

“In the morning I work in the elementary school, and in the afternoon I work in an office as an accountant. I am very satisfied and also proud that I have my own house. Before, I lived with my parents. Now I have my own home” – she says contentedly, while alternately petting Lassi and Chispa, her two adopted dogs.” 

She heard from friends a few years ago about Habitat for Humanity Guatemala and the possibility of paying to build a home in installments . She then contacted our offices in Retalhuleu.  


Within 7 months, she was the proud owner of a Habitat home! “It was a wonderful experience weeks with the volunteers. We had a lot of shared experiences, learning about each other’s cultures. They helped us a lot, gave a lot of strength and effort. Thank you for this experience and help! Now I have my own house!” – Claudia Alvarado.

Since she works a lot, she is happy to be able to relax in a pleasant environment in her sparse free time. 

“The material used is of the highest quality! And with the support of the volunteers, we were then able to build the house very quickly. I hope to be able to get in touch with them again. You are always welcome!” – Claudia tells us.  








Petronila Ratzan- ADISA


Domingo, her wife Petronila and their four children, Pedro (17), Gaspar (14), Domingo (9) and Josefina (3), live in the community of Tzamchaj, Santiago Atitlán, Sololá. Domingo works as a fisherman while Petronila makes handicrafts and takes care of the house chores.  

When Gaspar was born the family discover that he was born with varus clubfoot and intellectual disability. This caused several inconveniences to the family, as they suffered discrimination from the community. But they continued to stay together and united forces for Gaspar. Later, they found out about ADISA and started assisting when he was two years old and got surgery at three.  Since then, he has been attending ADISA, and now goes once a week to therapy. “We want Gaspar to have a normal life, I would like for him to continue studying and become a professional.”  mentions Domingo.  When we asked Gaspar what he wants to do when he grows up, he answers: “ I want to be a fisherman, just like my father.”  

The family used to live on a house that was in poor condition, built with corrugated metal sheets and dirt floor.  When the wind was too strong, they had to tied them with a rope. Everyone had to sleep on the floor. Also, their stove was in poor condition; causing them to suffer from respiratory diseases. 

Thanks to the support of ADISA, Habitat Guatemala has been able to build a new house for this family! Allowing them to have access to a safe, clean space, not only for the children, but for everyone. When we made the second visit, Gaspar was in school, but left his greetings with his family.  

“We are very happy and grateful with our new house; my children are safe. The house is big, and illuminated,” mentions Domingo. “Now, I have enough light and a comfortable space to make my handcrafts” adds Petronila.  

The family shares a message for the donors: “Words are not enough to give thanks to all of you, on behalf of my family. Thank you!”. 









Daniel Gómez- ADISA

Daniel, her wife Marta, and Cruz, their three-year-old child are living in Cerro de Oro, Santiago Atitlán. Daniel works in the fields nearby, while Marta stays at home with Cruz. When Cruz was born, they discovered that he had Cerebral Palsy, so they worked hard to cover his needs and provide him with proper care. 

Cruz has attended ADISA’s therapies twice a week for over a year and a half now, and they have noticed some big improvements: “Now he can stand and walk on his own, he is also starting to speak,” mentions Marta. “We want Cruz to have a normal life, first of all, trusting in God. We want him to be the same as others, that is why we are supporting him. In the future, I hope that Cruz can continue studying to be a professional and also to support children like him”.  

With regards to their old house, the family was living in a small room that was in poor condition. The family’s kitchen was built out of corrugated metal sheets, and the stove was in poor condition; these circumstances caused the family to suffer from respiratory diseases too. 

Thanks to the support of ADISA, Habitat Guatemala has built a new house for the Gómez family! And Marta shares with how they feel: “It has been of great improvement for our family. Now, the smoke no longer stays inside, we have our own bathroom and specially a safe, clean space for Cruz to play inside and continue improving. Now, he walks more and plays a lot, without any dirt!” 

The family shares a message for the donors: “We are very happy with our house. We thank everyone who has supported us. May God bless you and your families. When Cruz grows up, we will explain everything that you have done for us.”  








Joaquín Raxaco- Smokeless Stove Program

“This is the first of a total of 48 stoves built here with us in Guachipilin!” – says Joaquin Raxaco Sical accompanied by his wife Angelinaas they proudly show us their stove, which was built with the support of Union Church.

Angelina is cooking corn, and tells us that it is now much easier to prepare food, as she no longer needs to bend down and her eyes don’t water because smoke doesn’t accumulate in the kitchen .

Angelina and Joaquin have raised 10 children . They proudly tell that they have 27 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Most of them live in the city. Joaquin is a 72 year old farmer who is a volunteer for Habitat and his village of Guachipilin.

He has coordinated the work for the construction of the stoves earlier this year. Proudly he tells us that he is responsible for the water supply of the village. “When the 48 stoves were completed, we celebrated together and thanked the donors and God. On behalf of every one the families, I want to say thank you to the donors. Our lives have become much easier.” -says Joaquin.










Hirma Iboy- Smokeless Stove Program

On the way toHirma Yolanda Iboy Sic’s hoome, we pass through corn fields. She and her husband Manuel  live in a home made from adobe, in Guachipilin near Rabinal. Their eldest daughter Roxana Noemi and 3 grandchildren live with them.

Manuel works for a security company, Hirma is a housewife,  busily tending to the vegetable garden and taking care of the pig, chickens and ducks.

The children also need a lot of attention, “I thank the Union Church donors from the bottom of my heart for this stove! I wish them health and a good life ” says Hirma. “At the beginning of the year I had surgery which made it difficult to cook using the open fire pit that was on the ground.  This new stove is a blessing!” – she laughs broadly and pours us a coffee in a traditional bowl.

The wood used for cooking, which used to be enough for 2 weeks, now lasts 4 weeks with the news stove. They will use the money that they save to buy a new kiln