Healthy Home Kit: Julia Lopez Cuj de Morales

During a meeting with a village committee, Julia and her husband, Gabriel, first discovered Habitat for Humanity Guatemala’s Healthy Home Kits. They learned that the kit featured a smokeless stove, a sanitary latrine, and a water filter. It would provide them ample opportunity to improve their living conditions. After hearing these testimonials, Julia and Gabriel decided to participate.

Flash forward a few months later, Julia affirms Healthy Home Kits are helpful for families in need. She notes the changes in her family’s day-to-day life. Her new smokeless stove ventilates plumes of smoke out of her home, fostering a healthier kitchen environment. This scene is an enormous contrast with her old stove, which was built by another nonprofit organization, but failed to fulfil her needs. Composed of a few stacked blocks with a small grill on top, the old stove proved to be highly inefficient. There was no chimney. As a result, the room easily filled with smoke when Julia cooked, negatively affecting her health and putting her family at risk.

Julia’s new stove is bigger and easier to use, as well as economically helpful. She notes, the stove has saved her a tremendous amount of time, fuel, and money.“The most important thing about the new stove is that it consumes less firewood,” she remarks. By using less logs to fire up the stove, Julia’s family can save extra money, which Julia spends on “small pleasures” to brighten everyday life. “Like buying a chicken for Sunday lunch or new kitchen utensils to replace the old ones,” she explains, a smile tugging at her lips.

Saving money also allows Gabriel to buy new fabric, threads and needles for his needlework. When he returns from his work in the fields, Gabriel not only sews as a form of hobby. He also sells his work as an extra form of income, allowing the family to support itself.

Apart from the smokeless stove, the new latrine built by Habitat Guatemala volunteers works well. It is cleaner and safer for Julia and her husband. Their previous latrine had been built fifteen years ago and had fallen into disrepair. The ventilation system no longer worked. For that reason, it had become dirty and smelly, due to an unwanted proliferation of bacteria. Now, Julia’s new latrine fosters a cleaner and more private space,

Julia reflects, “I am happy with the Healthy Home Kit, and I am grateful to the group of volunteers who helped us.”