Lorna Chacón Family

 

Lorna  (32) her husband Tomás (34), and their three children, Josselyn (11), Jorge (8) and Lupita (3), are the proud new owners of a Habitat home!  During the week, Tomás works in the Guatemala City market,  while Lorna stays home and weaves traditional clothes to sell.

Before partnering with Habitat Guatemala to build her home, Lorna and her family used to live with Tomás’s parents and 11 additional relatives.  The space started to feel small for the growing family. That is why they decided it was time to start building a home of their own.  They started buying  some construction materials little by little, but were not enough to start the construction due to the lack of available funds.

Lorna has not had an easy life, as a young girl, she grew up in an orphanage setting. She and her brother were welcomed at the Agua Viva Orphanage. “They were the most happy days of my life… to share with other children and finally have some peace,” explains Lorna. She continues,  “That is where I met Rachel, and where I received an invitation to participate in the choir and travel to the United States. It was so much fun to spend time with her and her family. Throughout  all of these years, our friendship has endured… we are like sisters.

I have lived in an orphanage since I was a child.  I have met very nice people, who are now my friends. When we decided to start building our house,  I shared our plans with them,” mentions Lorna. She continues, “I explained my situation to Rachel. After some time, I received a visit from the Habitat staff, and it was a total surprise for me to learn that we were going to receive the donation of our home! When we started receiving all of the materials, I knew it was going to become a reality.”

When we asked how she feels with her new home, Lorna gets very emotional and answers, “I do not have any words to describe my happiness. I feel very content to have our own home. This has been a home for everyone. We have welcomed our relatives, and now, all of the blessings are starting to come back. By receiving this new house, we are able to have our own space. A home is the best refuge for everyone.”  Tomás adds, “We are grateful and happy to have our own home!

Regarding her favorite part of the house, Lorna answers “Everything! I just love it all. In the future we would like to paint it with bright colors, like orange.”

By receiving this house, Lorna and her family will greatly improve their quality of life… and not just for her and her immediate family, but for the rest of their relatives as well; everyone will have their own space, tranquility, and peace.

The family finishes by sharing a message to Rachel and her family, “I am very grateful with God for putting Rachel in our path. I feel very happy and grateful to with her. There are not many people in this world who give these kind of gifts, but those who are sent by God have that ability, and that is what Rachel.  God sent her to me, and my family. Receiving this (home) is very special. We may not be able to pay them back, but we just keep on praying to God to keep her and her family blessed and that all that they have given us is multiplied for them. This is a gift that will last a lifetime, not just for me, but for my children and their future. THANK YOU!” She continues, “Receive all my best wishes… the best wishes you can hope for, for a sister. You are a part of what we are now. Thanks to you and your family. Feel welcome whenever you want to come visit; we will be waiting for you. I love you!

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 a variety of part-time/temporary jobs including helping with the corn and bean harvest, cleaning homes, washing cloths, and other tasks. Vicenta’s son Michael supports his mom with her work in the fields, while Jennifer and Britney attend school.

Vicenta and her family are part of our new Hybrid House Program, which consists of a two room home built with a mix of traditional materials including: 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. Additionally, 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 approximately two weeks.

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

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

As previously noted, the hybrid house 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 mentions that she and her family used to live in a house built out of dilapidated wood. They lived this way for more than 15 years. “We were living in only one room built out of old pieces of wood that was already rotten. During the night, I couldn’t sleep, because I was concerned about my children, making sure that they did not suffer from the cold,” says Vicenta.

One day, Vicenta received a visit from Habitat staff. She showed them her house and their living conditions. The staff explained the details of the program. She was asked if she would like to participate if given the opportunity to which she agreed. Later Habitat staff returned and told her she was selected as one of the beneficiaries. “It was a complete surprise for my family and I! When they explained the process and the contributions that were required of her she mentioned, ” I do not have any money, but this was going to be our house and the opportunity to improve the life of my children. So, I am going to find a way. I am going to work extra hours and find new sources of income.” Vicenta mentions.

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

Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Vicenta mentions, “These times have been complicated. We haven’t had work, but having our house has made us feel safer. We have one less thing to worry about now, because this house is well built. We do not worry about the rain, cold, or sun. During this pandemic we have enjoyed staying inside our house. The girls can play and enjoy. While I cook, they play in their bedroom. 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 (an outdoor washing station). This helps families improve their health by giving them adequate access to proper sanitation, potable water, and a smoke free environment. Vicenta and her family have felt a difference with their  new water filter. Before, they drank water directly from the sink, which caused them to suffer gastrointestinal distress. Now, it is easier and safer to drink potable water from the filter. Regarding the stove, Vicenta used to cook over an open flame on the floor, causing an accumulation of smoke inside the house. Now, Vicenta explains the improvement, “the new one (stove) is much different. It is working great and consumes less wood. We now spend less time gathering firewood. As to their old latrine, they shared it with 10 relatives. Vicenta explains their new sanitary situation, “Now, we have our own bathroom, and we feel happy with it! We are happy with all of our products.”

When asked about her favorite part of the house, Vicenta smiles and answers,”Everything! Most 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 another country! They worked very hard, alongside us, and we had so much fun too.” Jennifer adds, “We felt really happy, I spent time with people that I did not know before, but they felt like family. I will always cherish them in my heart.”

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. Please feel welcome to come and visit us.”  Jennifer adds, ” Thank you for taking the time to come and build our new home. 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.

WASH Project – Mariana Isabel Cahuec

Mariana lives with her husband and his family in the community of San Juan, Salamá, Baja Verapaz. Don Lázaro, her father in law, owns a small grocery store, and her husband works in the fields, while she takes care of the family chores.Habitat Guatemala’s Integral Water and Sanitation Hygiene Project (WASH) consists of the installation of a biodigestor, porcelain toilet, shower, water filter and the placement of a small tower and water tank in each household, to promote and allow better hygiene practices. When the family found out about this project, they knew it was a great opportunity to improve their quality of life.

In the community of San Juan, families have two sources of water, but neither of them are pure nor run consistently. That is why having a water tank is very important for families there. “Now, we no longer suffer when they cut the water, we have a place to store it, safely.” She continues, “with the water filter, it is much better now too. Before we had to buy water or drink it directly from the sink. Now, with the filter it is much better. The water does not taste like chlorine anymore and it stays fresh.”

(pictured the family’s old shower and pila) 
(pictured the family’s old latrine) 
(pictured the family’s new sanitary unit, including a ceramic toilet, a shower and a pila) 

Before receiving their new latrine and porcelain toilet, Mariana and her family used a shower covered with plastic and their latrine was in poor condition. “We feel better now, it is very different from where we used to shower before, it is much more comfortable now!” says Mariana. She continues by explaining about their waste water. “Before, when we showered, the waste water was left exposed on the surface, now we know, that it all goes to only one place.” With their new biodigestor connected to the toilet and shower they make sure its going to only one place and doesn’t further pollute the environment.

Overall, Mariana shares, “We feel happy with this project and the products.” She finishes by sending a message to the donors: “Receive all our gratitude for your support, Thank you!”

WASH Project – Olivia Velásquez

Olivia lives with her husband Benancio, and their 8 children, in the community of San Juan, Salamá, Baja Verapaz. While Benancio and the older children work in the fields, Olivia and the girls take care of the household.

Habitat Guatemala’s Integral Water and Sanitation Hygiene Project (WASH) consists of the installation of a biodigestor, porcelain toilet, shower, water filter and the placement of a small tower and water tank in each household to promote and allow for better hygiene practices. When the family found out about the project, they knew it was a great opportunity to improve their family’s quality of life.

In the community of San Juan, families have two sources of water, but neither of them are pure nor run the consistently. That is why having a water tank is very important for Olivia and her big family. “Thanks to God, we are more calm now, we have a safe place to store water, so we do not run out of it.” She continues, “when we did not have enough money, we used to drink directly from the sink. Having a water tank and filter has been a great improvement, because we drink don’t have to buy water anymore and we can drink safely from the filter.”

(pictured the family’s old shower) 

 

(pictured the family’s new sanitary unit, including a ceramic toilet, a shower and a pila) 

Before receiving their new latrine and porcelain toilet, Olivia and her family used a shower covered with plastic and their latrine was in poor condition. “Our old shower was covered with plastic. Now, it is completely different. It is much more comfortable to shower and we have our privacy,” Olivia says. She continues by explaining about their waste water; “My husband used to direct the water waste to the field next to the house. Now, we are not longer polluting the environment and it feels good.” With their new biodigestor connected to the toilet and shower they make sure its going to only one place and doesn’t further pollute the environment.

Overall, Olivia shares, “We feel content, thanks to God, all the products are working fine!” She finishes by sending a message to the donors: “We feel grateful with all my family for this project, Thank you to all the donors. May God bless you.”

WASH Project – Flor de María Chen

Flor (26) lives with her father, Manuel (63), and her three children, Arturo (12), Evelyn (6), and Lourdes (2) in the community of San Juan, Salamá, Baja Verapaz. Flor is a single mother and she dedicates her time towards taking care of her children; her dad works in the fields nearby.

Habitat Guatemala’s Integral Water and Sanitation Hygiene Project (WASH) consists in the installation of a biodigestor, porcelain toilet, shower, water filter and the placement of a small tower and water tank in each household. These interventions guarantee and ensure better hygiene practices. When Flor and her family found out about this project, they knew it was a great opportunity to improve their family’s quality of life.

In the community of San Juan, families have two sources of water, but neither of them are safe to drink, and there isn’t constant access to water. That is why having a water tank is very important for Flor de María’s family. “We are happy with our water tank! Now, we can no longer tell if the water isn’t running or not, because it’s always available.” She continues, “We used to boil water from the sink. Sometimes we had to boil it for some time because it tasted of chlorine. Due to unpleasant flavor, we would even resort to buying bottled water. Now, it is completely different; we no longer have to buy it and it tastes wonderful!”

(pictured the family’s old shower) 

(pictured the family’s new sanitary unit, including a ceramic toilet, a shower and a pila) 

Before receiving their new latrine and porcelain toilet, Flor and her family used a shower covered with wood and plastic; their latrine was in poor conditions. “It was very uncomfortable, especially at night because there were a lot of cockroaches and worms and I worried about my children. Now, it is completely different! I feel calm when they use the bathroom and shower by themselves. It is more hygienic and comfortable,” says Flor. She continues by explaining their previous sanitary conditions, “We used to direct the graywater to the field next to the house. Now, we are properly disposing of our graywater and my kids are no longer exposed to any danger; they can play safely.” With their new biodigestor, which is connected to the toilet and shower, their waste is being properly managed and it is no longer polluting the environment.

Overall, Flor says, “We feel happy and satisfied to be a part of this project. The products had made us feel safer and healthier; it has been a great improvement!”

She finishes by sending a message to the donors, “Thank you to all who made this project possible! May God help you and guide you in order to continue supporting families in need.”

WASH Project – María Tomasa Dubón

María (52) lives with her husband, Guillermo (56), and their son, Kevin (20), in the community of San Juan, Salamá, Baja Verapaz. While Guillermo works in the fields, and Kevin as a barber, María takes care of the household.

As part of Habitat Guatemala’s Integral Water and Sanitation Hygiene Project (WASH) consists of the installation of a biodigestor, porcelain toilet, shower, water filter and the placement of a small tower and water tank in each household, to guarantee and ensure better hygiene practices. When the family found out about this project, they knew it was a great opportunity to improve their family’s quality of life.

Before receiving their new latrine and porcelain toilet, María and her family used a latrine in poor conditions for over 22 years and their shower was covered by plastic. “We felt bad, because when we showered it was uncomfortable. Now, it is completely different, we feel happy! every time we go now, we no longer feel uncomfortable,” says María. She continues by explaining about their waste water; “Before, the waste water was deposited into the ground, but now it is treated by the biodigestor.” With their new biodigestor connected to the toilet and shower they make sure its going to only one place and doesn’t further pollute the environment.

(pictured the family’s old shower) 
(pictured the family’s new sanitary unit, including a ceramic toilet, a shower and a pila) 

About the water filter, she mentions: “We used to buy clean water or drank it directly from the sink, but we no longer have to do so! with our new water filter we are saving money and the water tastes much better than the one from the sink!”

When asked about how she overall feels about the project, María answers: “We feel content! to finally have these products, thanks to God and to all the individuals that made this project a reality.”