The Herbert and Yolanda Family


Jacinta opens the door. She’s in her son Herbert’s new house, hanging out with Herbert’s wife, Yolanda. Yolanda’s whipping up some atol, a traditional corn drink, and something else that smells so good the cats casually roam the kitchen area in hopes for a taste.

“Come on in!” says Jacinta merrily. She explains that Herbert is out giving music lessons as she picks up a music theory book to show off.

Jacinta is a proud mother. She talks about Herbert in a bold voice and wears a confident smile that doesn’t fade quickly. She explains how Herbert got his home.

“He got married, and he wanted his own place,” she says. Herbert had turned in his paperwork for a Habitat home and was approved, given his current housing situation. Herbert and Jacinta were living in a room in Jacinta’s home. They occupied one room, Jacinta and her daughter occupied another, and tienda, or store, occupied the last.

A short time later, a group of volunteers were passing blocks to get the first layers of the house built. Jacinta and Yolanda are really thankful for the help that the volunteers provided, and they hope to see the volunteers again. Their doors are always open.

Yolanda says the house is much more comfortable than when they shared a room in her mother-in-law’s home. The new place has a spacious living room, a nice arched window into the kitchen, and a Habitat Guatemala smokeless stove set up in the corner of the kitchen.

Yolanda and Herbert are more than happy with their new bed, as well. They say it’s very comfortable and it was a really thoughtful wedding gift! “It’s so good!” says Yolanda.


Herbert has set up a little area in the living room for an internet, or a computer to be used publicly for $0.60 per hour. It’s not much, but it’s a nice little way for the couple to make an added income when they’re not using the computer.

Currently in construction is a wall in front of the house for a bit of added privacy and blockage of road noise.

The house is really comfortable. Breeze flows from the front door through the house and out the back door. For the young couple, the house signifies a passage from young adulthood into independence.





The Migdalia and Jorge Family


Migdalia’s story starts in her parents’ house, where she was “constantly depending on them.”

“They gave us a space,” says Migdalia, “and they helped out with paying the bills and sharing the responsibilities.” Migdalia’s husband, Jorge Luis Batz, was working as a driver, and their baby, Luna, was growing up.

“In the beginning it’s easy,” says Migdalia, as her 4-year-old daughter clings to her arm. “But later, not so much. My baby was growing!”

The young couple, even as a married independent unit, was still depending on mom and dad simply because of the circumstances of shared housing. Migdalia didn’t like it. She wasn’t free. And she had been wanting to build a house for five years, until finally she applied to Habitat for Humanity Guatemala.

Migdalia remembers the construction of the house, and how little Luna was already pointing to rooms and claiming her space. “She said, ‘that’s going to be my room!'”


“We are really happy,” says Migdalia, “not everybody has the blessing of having their own home. It was a dream we had for a long time. Thanks to all the volunteers who were really friendly, for working together with us and helping us realize the dreams we had. We hope they’re all good, may God bless their lives.”

“We’re still going to paint the house,” says Migdalia. “And put up formal doors and put in a wooden ceiling.”

Now, Migdalia and her family are living a quiet, content life independently. They are located at the end of a long driveway surrounded by fields. It’s quiet at their place. And the family is free to continue growing.





The Agusto and Valerina Family


“I decided to fight so that I could be independent.”

Some fights require a struggle against another person, other against a government. Agusto’s was against the cycle of poverty.

Agusto and his wife, Valerina, had lived in a little hillside on the outskirts of Momostenango for a long time. The house wasn’t theirs – it belonged to Josefina, Agusto’s mother. The house was made of adobe, an building material made from earth, water, and calcium. It was in a aging condition, as the walls of adobe homes don’t last long if they aren’t covered with cement.

Valerina, Agusto, and Agusto’s mother weren’t the only ones in the home. There were four more family members that shared a total of 2-3 rooms, depending on how you define a “room.” Quarters were cramped, adobe walls that soak up moisture rendered damp air, and the young couple was ready to be independent.

So they turned in their paperwork for a new Habitat Guatemala home. They were approved, and within a few months they were in their new home.

One of the biggest obstacles for a Agusto and his family is the struggle against the cycle of poverty. Agusto had little money saved up for a home, and paying off a big credit is no easy task. The game changer is that Agusto has already managed to drastically improve his living conditions as he invests his money into something that he will be able to claim as his own. Habitat Guatemala provided the opportunity, and Agusto took advantage.

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Agusto makes backpacks with a sewing machine that he’s keeping in one of his new rooms. He stitches them together and sells them at the market. The room is full of packs that are ready to be assembled. Recently, he hasn’t had much luck selling the packs, but he’s brainstorming other ways to promote his business. “We’ll see what we can do,” he says.

The home has already made a big impact on the young couple, much more than simply putting a roof over their heads. Josefina, Agusto’s mother, is “happy, because he has his own place now. It’s given him energy to pay it off.”

Remembering the volunteers who helped build his house, Agusto is “thankful. Here, I’m happy. Hopefully someday they will all come back, because they are welcome in my home. Look at these photos!” He showed off all the photos he had from when the volunteers were there.


Agusto’s life has changed, and slowly he is working his way out of poverty by means of an investment through Habitat Guatemala. And for Agusto, that’s invaluable.


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The Byron Batres Family

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One moment and everything changed for Byron and his family. Byron and his siblings were out of the house when they got word that there was explosion, and that the explosion had taken place inside their house. Byron rushed home to find out what had happened.

His parents were cooking using a gas stove, and it had exploded. The impact was even harder when Byron found out that his parents were inside and had been critically injured. They did not die instantly, but both parents passed away within a few months.

So Byron and his three siblings – two of them too young to work – were left with the remnants of a burned house and no parents. The house was made partially of block and partially of wooden plank, except for one room that was made purely of block. Byron and his siblings all moved into that little room, and that’s where they lived for three months.

It was three months of ashy walls, cramped quarters, and horrific memories.

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They realized they couldn’t go on like that. Byron talked to his local Habitat Guatemala affiliate in Chimaltenango, and was quickly approved for a new home. The construction was aided by the help of volunteers from Habitat for Humanity of Evansville.

Byron says he’s really thankful for the help that the students gave him. “It’s a shame they were only here for a little time,” he says. “A thousand thanks for the help.”

Byron has already painted every paintable surface in the house, including staining the cement floor red. With the help of his siblings he’s planning to keep adding furniture, making it feel more homey.  Byron says that looking at the old house “still takes a toll.” The family of siblings has moved on and is continuing to recover, and having a new clean uncluttered home without any remnants of ash is certainly helpful.



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The Lidia Noemi Saniq Family

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It’s quiet outside Lidia’s new house.

A couple of cows that smack their lips on the grass in the field in front of her house. The silence is innocently interrupted by bike treads on the gravel road. 14-year-old Angel rides his bike up to the house, expertly over the cement ledge of the patio, and into the doorway.

“It was sad that we were paying rent,” says Angel. He speaks eloquently, much more articulately than most 14-year-olds.

The family was paying for a place in the city of Tecpán. They were renting, and it was causing problems. There was the financial aspect – that the family couldn’t afford to keep paying with no investment. And there was the dignity aspect – the family’s home wasn’t really theirs.

“Better for us to take out a credit with Habitat,” says Angel. He speaks like an expert on the topic.

The family was approved for credit, and before long their home was going up. In early June, the family moved to the new home. As he gives a little house tour, Angel apologizes for the mess. “We’re still moving in, but as I’m in school and my mom is working, it doesn’t give us very much time to get settled in.”

Angel remembers the group of volunteers and wanted to pass along the family’s thanks. “Thanks for all of the effort that you did, the house went up in a short time,” he says. He sends all his greetings on behalf of the family.

The family has plans to put up a wall around the house for added privacy when they get the chance and the funds are flowing. For now, they are getting their possessions arranged in their new home – a place that they can finally call theirs.





The Anastasia and Miguel Family

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Anastasia opens the door. Her house is clear from clutter, well-painted, and very well-organized. The floor is stained red, the walls are painted yellow, and in lieu of interior doors there are curtains that are well-kept. It’s obvious that Anastasia and her husband take a huge pride in the ownership of their new home.

But things weren’t always so comfortable.

Anastasia and her husband Miguel were living with Miguel’s parents even after getting married. In that house, they shared a very small space.

“We only had a room,” says Anastasia. “That’s where we cooked and slept. It was really small and uncomfortable.” The couple shared a little room and that’s where they lived. The room was only a tiny bit bigger than their new living room. “We had everything in that one room.”

The house was in a decintegrating state as well. The house wasn’t made of earthquake-resistant block. It was made of adobe, a cheap mixture of earth, calcium, and water. Lots of homes in rural Guatemala are made from this affordable material, but it causes huge risks to health and security when the walls absorb water and become “humid.” The house Anastasia and Miguel were living in had reached an unsafe level of dampness that caused the indoor air to be constantly humid.

“I continually got sick,” says Anastasia. “Coughing, the flu…”

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But that wasn’t the worst. Anastasia says that the worst part of living in the old house was her mother-in-law.

“She always accused us of using too much water and electricity. She would shut off the electricity to our house from 5:30 in the morning until 7 at night.”

The 25-year-old couple was finished with living under somebody else’s roof. They partnered with Habitat Guatemala and within a short time, volunteers were helping to build the house.

“I am so thankful for you unconditional support,” says Anastasia of the volunteers. “You’ve left a special memory for me, and for that we are happy. May God bless all of your families with good heatlh. You’ve been a part of my family, reaching my heart. I love you all.”

Now that she’s in her new house, everything is different. She and her husband have space. There’s no noise outside. And there’s no voice telling them what they can and can’t do.

“How different is this,” she says. “Now there’s peace! I can do whatever I want and nobody will scold me.”

Anastasia and Miguel have gained their independence and their peace through a Habitat house, something they are very grateful for. And the effect is obvious in the evident care that the house receives.

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The Irmin And Dominga Family

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Down the road to Cantel, up the road to Estancia, and down a half-paved road, there’s a village called Chiriquiac. Down a gravel road, past the corn and cabbage fields, and down a little dirt path, there’s a brand new house in the tranquility of the countryside.

Irmin Itzep Sacalxot, 28, and his wife Dominga Carmelina Juix Coti, 25, are the happy young owners of the new house. As the couple sits down to talk, Dominga’s dress sparkles under the light of the window. She wears an ornate traditional dress – a sign of her Quiché heritage. Irmin quietly arranges the chairs to make everyone comfortable in his new home.

“Before,” he says, “we were living with Dominga’s mother in her home.” The previous living arrangements weren’t ideal. They were living with the in-laws in an adobe home, a situation that caused the young couple to feel dependent and cramped.

“We were already our own family,” says Irmin. “We wanted to make ourselves independent.”

The couple didn’t have a lot of income. Irmin works as a barista at a small coffee shop in the city of Xela, and Dominga makes beautiful embroideries with her sewing machine to bring in a little extra cash. Either way, the young couple didn’t have the means to be able to pay for an entire house, so Habitat Guatemala was their best option for acquiring their own place.

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During the construction of their house, a group of volunteers from Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley came down to lend a hand. “We are really thankful for their support,” says Irmin. “They did a ton of work. We’re really content here, and we are thankful to God. It is a fortune to have had this support.”

Their contentness in their new house is evident. Everything inside and outside their house is well-arranged and obviously taken care of with proud hands. Finally, the young couple is living the peaceful life they deserve.

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The Olga Esperanza Juarez Family

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Twenty years ago, Olga was 12 years old. Her parents partnered with Habitat Guatemala to construct one of the first Habitat homes in Guatemala.

Fast-forward twenty years, and 32-year-old Olga is the strong mother of a daughter and twin boys. She was living all that time in her mother’s home, which was well-kept with pride. But with at least 9 people in the mix, things were cramped.

So to relieve the space issue, Olga decided to partner with Habitat Guatemala, just like her mother did 20 years prior.

“Now, we bring in the TV and watch together,” says Olga. “Before, we couldn’t do that. You just can’t when everybody wants to do their own thing. There was no space. Now, it’s really spacious.”


And that same pride that her mother took in her home has been passed down, all the way to Olga’s 11-year-old daughter Dallana. “She says, ‘this is my room, this is my door,’” explains Olga. “Before, she left her clothes scattered around her room. Now, everything’s all organized.”

The new house also features something that the architects have done specially in Retalhuleu. Around the house, one meter from the ground, there is a sort of “splash zone” that, because of Reu’s rainy climate, prevents water from penetrating the concrete. It makes the home last longer, and insures the integrity of the building.

Olga is very thankful for the volunteer team and sends her warmest wishes and greetings.

Olga and her family are happy to be in their new place, happy for the opportunity to create something of their own. With the help of Habitat Guatemala, they’ve been able to succeed in creating their own space, and they’ve been inspired to think about what changes they’d like to continue making in the future.

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One of the twins couldn't muster staying awake during a boring grown-up conversation.

One of the twins couldn’t muster staying awake during a boring grown-up conversation.