Healthy Home Kits: Magdalena Perez Chocho and Sandra Chocho Yaxon

Magdalena Perez Chocho

At seventy-two years old, Magdalena runs her household seamlessly. She rises early, tends to her sheep and goats, and then prepares meals for her daughter, Santos (35), and her two young grandchildren, Elmer (7) and Cedelia (5). She is also responsible for cleaning the family home.

Since receiving a Healthy Home Kit from Habitat Guatemala, life has become significantly easier for Magdalena and her family. She is especially pleased that she has more time to herself. In Kaqchiquel, a local Mayan language, she explains that, “Before, the stove used a lot of wood, and we would have to search for it every single day. Now, we only have to go three times a week, which gives me much more time, now that I’m older, to rest.”


Reflecting on her old stove, Magdalena says that, “it was no more than a few blocks stacked together with a grill laid on top. It was in bad condition. The grill was twisted so much that you couldn’t even put food on it.” Her eyes, lungs, and skin also suffered from the burning smoke, and the choking tendrils also left the little ones with a cough. “It was everywhere, and it blackened our roof.” She points above to the ceiling, where remnants of soot dangle, an ominous reminder of what her stove used to be.

The Healthy Home Kit has also boosted Magdalena’s spirits in ways that she had never imagined. The new latrine has offered her greater privacy, dignity, and comfort. Plus, it’s closer to the house. “It’s nice to not to have to share a latrine with two other families,” Magdalena says. “Our old latrine was only a dirt floor, and a piece of cloth to cover the opening. Nothing more. There was no privacy, and it was dirty.”

Lastly, finding a clean drinking source is easier than ever. Rather than having to boil copious amounts of water, Magdalena only has to go to the stream twice a week to fetch water from the stream and put it into the water filter. “The stomach pains have disappeared,” she smiles.

Magdalena is grateful for all that the volunteers´ dedication and stamina, and she reflects on their relationship fondly. “Our family supplied the materials, but the volunteers were the ones who made them into the latrine and the stove,” she explains.  “We are very grateful for the team and with the services that they provided us. We don’t suffer anymore.”

Sandra Chocho Yaxon

Sandra (29) and her mother-in-law, Isabel (43) have a daily ritual. Together, they will congregate in the kitchen to prepare three meals for their family of five. For a long while, Sandra says, their cooking equipment was far from ideal. The family stove, decades old, was falling apart. “There were a lot of problems with the bottom and the grill,” she explains.  “The old one was made out of dirt and was very, very small. It used way too much wood.”

She cites that the old stove posed many health problems for her family. “Because of the smoke, we had a lot of lung issues, and we always burned ourselves. It was especially dangerous with my baby, Luciano, who would grab everything.”

Since Habitat Guatemala volunteers built her new stove last June, Sandra is thrilled with the results. Excitedly, she explains that, “The new one uses less wood, is easy to use, and doesn’t let off as much smoke.”

A new stove is not the only thing Sandra and Isabel have benefited from. As part of Habitat Guatemala´s Healthy Home Kit Program, they were also latrine and water filter recipients. Sandra cites that the new latrine is a great improvement. “Our old latrine was made of bamboo rods. It didn’t offer a lot of privacy and was farther away from the house,” she says. “The new one is made well. It’s dry, easy to use. There aren’t any problems with smell or with sturdiness.”

As for water? Since switching to a water filter, Sandra has noticed that her family’s health has measuredly improved. Before, all five of them suffered from daily stomach problems, mainly to using a tinaja, or a large earthenware jug that is commonly used to store liquids in rural areas of Guatemala. Sandra also doesn’t have to boil water anymore and is happy with the facility of using a filter.

When asked about the group that came to build the stove and latrine, Sandra’s face brightens. “We thank you so much for the wonderful work that you did. We hope that you continue to help serve families like ours. Thank you.”