Healthy Home Kit: Matilde Días Sotz

“My neighbors spoke positively of Habitat for Humanity Guatemala’s Home Healthy Kit. They were happy with their smokeless stoves and latrines. They said that it was helpful for the families in need, so I asked them to help me to get in contact with the organization.”

These are the words of Matilde Dias Sotz, who is now a proud owner of a smokeless stove, sanitary latrine, and water filter. A few months after hearing of her neighbors’ positive experiences, an enthusiastic group of international volunteers arrived at her home. Matilde remembers them fondly. “When the group came, my home was filled with joy for two days. They were kind with the children, and they played a lot with them.” Her ten-year-old son, Delbin, also remembers the event. He helps his mother list the volunteers’ names in a steady succession. “We had a great time with the group. I was mad that it lasted only two days!” she jokes.

She looks at her stove with nostalgia. “We built the stove together. It is a nice memory,” she says.

For good reason, Matilde took her neighbors’ words seriously. She tells us the problems that she faced with her previous stove. “We suffered from the smoke. My children coughed a lot, and they burned themselves all the time.” Matilde and her family spent a lot of time looking for wood as well and confronted several difficulties. She says, “The old stove consumed a lot of wood. In this area where we live, it is harder to find firewood nowadays.” Comparably to the new stove, she says that they are saving much more time and resources. “This one only needs four logs to warm up.”

She notes, “Thanks to the new stove I cook better and I save some money.” With these new savings, she is now able to buy toys for her kids, as well as more fruits and vegetables to provide them with a more balanced and healthier diet. Additionally to eating better, Matilde’s children now have access to clean drinking water, thanks to their new water filter. They no longer fall ill from waterborne illnesses.

Matilde’s new latrine has also been an improvement. She describes how her family had built their old latrine with sticks, which as a result, left it often dirty and contaminated. “The new latrine is safer,” she says. “I keep it clean to have a healthy environment for my children. I clean it, I disinfect it. It is an easy task compared to what we had to do with the old latrine.”

She says with a delighted smile, “Our everyday life has changed thanks to the Healthy Home Kit.” She is grateful to the group of volunteers. “God bless them. I thank them for their impressive work. I thank them for their efforts because they came all the way to my home to help me. Also, I know that they did it not just for the sake of completing a journey. They took the time to come here, and they left their family in order to improve my family’s life. I thank them for their generous heart.”

As she speaks, she gives a loving look to her six-month-old-baby. “When they left, I was eight months pregnant. Their kindness filled my heart with good energy and gave me strength to move forward.”