Healthy Home Kits: Cesi Garcia Serech and Gricelda Cumez Matzar

Cesi Garcia Serech

At the top of a hill, a corn field surrounds Cesi Garcia Serech’s house. The view is impressive. Clouds hang over Lake Atitlan, illuminated by a few sun rays. Here, Cesi lives with her four-year little daughter, Jimena, and her husband, Oliver. They share the plot of land with Cesi’s in-laws.

A little further down on the hill, two latrines stand side by side. One is old, and the other is new. The older latrine was built by Cesi’s husband’s family about four years ago. “The previous latrine was in bad condition. It was dirty and rotting,” Cesi remembers. She used to share it with all of her extended family. “Plus, there was no privacy because there was no door”.

The new latrine shows a clear contrast. “The biggest change is that now the latrine is closed off. And we have some privacy,” explains Cesi. She is proud to have her own space. “It is cleaner and easier to clean. It is also more hygienic, especially for my daughter”.

With Habitat for Humanity Guatemala’s Healthy Home Kit, Cesi also benefitted from a new stove. Cesi and her daughter used to suffer from the smoke of their previous stove because there was no chimney that allowed for ventilation. As a result, their old stove negatively impacted their health, forcing them to cough and entering their eyes.

Cesi’s family built the previous stove with few blocks. But because it was too small and poorly constructed Cesi and Jimena used to burn themselves. “What I like about the new stove is that it is bigger and it consumes less wood. The new stove requires half as much logs as the previous one,” Cesi notes. With the extra money they save, Cesi can buy more food for her family. She purchases more meat and can prepare her daughter’s favorite dish: grilled chicken.  When her mother says those words, a big smile appears on Jimena’s mischievous face.

When asked about the group of volunteers who came to help build her stove and latrine, Cesi says,“I thank them for their help. I am grateful.”

Gricelda Cumez Matzar

Gricelda Cumez Matzar, her husband, Filadelfo, and their five children recently moved into their new home. They were looking for a place to be closer to her family. Now she is living few meters away from her relatives, surrounded by their corn fields. When they arrived, her husband quickly built a latrine with the limited materials that they had. They gathered some sticks of wood to make walls and used tarpaulin for the door. There was no roof.

Luckily, Habitat for Humanity Guatemala’s Healthy Kit Program helped Gricelda and her husband, Filadelfo, improve their new living circumstances. “During a school meeting, a promotor presented about the Healthy Kit Program. We were interested, so we went to the office and asked to participate.” It was a new opportunity for their family to improve their house.

A few months later, a group of volunteers came to build a new latrine and a new stove. Gricelda recalls that it was great teamwork, with all of her family participating in the construction. “We removed the stones, we dug, spread the sand … and in one day it was done!”

Gricelda notes the changes. “Now there is a roof, and it’s not raining anymore in the latrine. It is also cleaner.” She makes it clear that it is important to take good care of the new structure. “I taught to my daughters how to clean the latrine. All my family has to take care of it. Every day I make sure that the latrine is clean.”

Above all, participating in the Healthy Home Kit project went well, concludes Gricelda. She enumerates the other changes in their everyday life. The family’s water filter protects them from stomach pains that can be caused by impure water. Gricelda is also fond of her new stove, which is smokeless, warms up easily, and doesn’t consume a lot of firewood. It is a far cry, she remembers, from her previous stove. “There was no chimney, and it was too small and broken.”

Griselda is appreciative of the volunteer’s work. “I thank the group of volunteers for coming to me and offering their help. Although I am still in need, my living conditions have improved.” She adds jokingly, “whenever they want to come back to build something else, they are welcome!”