Clara Chocho Lopez
Clara’s home is filled with the laughter of her four children. On a typical day, you may find Ronaldin (Ronny), her nine-year-old son, playing with his little cousin, Damas. Their large family, which includes extended members, lives in the middle of endless corn fields and dense forests.
Although she has her family closeby, Clara admits that she and her children have confronted hardships in the past. They built home with the scarce materials they had, which has severely limited them. With a bare skeleton of a house, they had no access to a sanitation system. For years, they used an inefficient stove, which was a fragile construction that they had made with their hands.
However, circumstances have changed for Clara and her family. Since becoming involved with Habitat for Humanity Guatemala’s Healthy Home Kit Program, their lives have significantly improved. The kit has offered her the opportunity to be the owner of a new water filter, smokeless stove, and sanitary latrine.
Before, because they had no latrine, Clara remembers how she felt worried about letting her children go to use the bathroom in the woods. “At night when it was dark I was afraid for my children to go in alone,” says Clara. “It was neither safe nor healthy.” She feels relief to have her new latrine, which is a better environment for her children. “Thanks to the new latrine, we have more privacy, and it is safer for my children,” she explains.
As she talks, Ronaldin stands in the kitchen proudly by the new stove, eagerly eying the grilled corn that will be prepared for lunch. His mother expresses that she is happy with her new stove, which has a larger grill and consumes less firewood. To the delight of her children, Clara can cook more dishes without worrying about smoke.
When we ask Clara about her memories with the group of Habitat Guatemala volunteers who came to help build the latrine and stove, Ronaldin speaks for his mother. “Absolutely we remember them. I helped them build the stove and to prepare the cement,” Ronaldin says. “We had fun with them,” adds Clara.
Their message for the volunteers? “We thank them for the new latrine and the new stove. It has brought significant changes in our life,” says Clara. Ronaldin nods in agreement, a smile on his face.
Christina Raquel Chocho
Christina lives with her husband and their four children in a remote valley, which is surrounded by corn fields and forests. To find water, she must walk one hour up the hill, which takes time away from her busy life. Despite these difficulties, Christina is happier than ever. “God blessed me by sending the Habitat Guatemala volunteers to help me build a new stove and a new latrine,” she says. “I thank God for giving me the chance to benefit from the Habitat for Humanity Guatemala’s Home Healthy Kits.”
When asked about her new latrine, Christina speaks with relief. “Thank God, I have a new latrine. It was a huge improvement for us because we didn’t have any sanitation service before. We used to go in the woods.” Christina is grateful for the new changes especially for her children’s sake. “Before I was always afraid to let my children go in there, because of the dangerous animals,” she says. “Now my new latrine is clean, safe, and healthy for all my family.”
Christina is also fond of her new stove. Tortillando, or making tortillas, is one of the favorite activities, and on her new stove, she can make multiple simultaneously, which are enough to feed her entire family. This is an enormous contrast with her previous stove, which did not allow her to cook very much. “It was too small, it didn’t warm up well,” she remembers. “Plus, I used to burn myself all the time, and I was affected by the smoke.” With a delighted smile, Christina says, “my new stove warms up well, and the grill is big enough to cook food for all my family.” Moreover, the stove doesn’t consume as much wood as the previous one did. Her husband, Jenarldo buys fewer logs, which allows them to save some money for their son, Wilmer, to study.
Christina’s water filter has also helped in several ways. She enjoys that she no longer has to depend on boiling tap water, which took a lot of time, or fear contracting waterborne infections.
As for the international group of volunteers, Christina leaves kind remarks: “I can’t say in words how grateful I am to the volunteers who came to help me.”