María (58), her husband, Jesús (60) and their four grown daughters, Odilia (27), Angélica (24), Aura (20) and Selena (19), are the proud owners of a new Hybrid House, in the municipality of Churunueles, Sololá. Don Jesús works in the fields and has recently been elected as the auxiliary mayor of the community. This title is given to elders that have supported their community and are respected individuals. María and her daughters stay at home and weave traditional clothes to sell.
María and her family are part of our new Hybrid House Program, which is a two room home built with a mix of traditional materials: adobe blocks, cement blocks, and wood. This solution is partially subsidized which means that beneficiary families are asked to contribute towards the cost of materials and provide unskilled labor such as preparing adobe blocks, among other tasks.
Before partnering with Habitat Guatemala, María and her family used to live in a house built out of adobe blocks and wood; their kitchen was built with sugarcane stalk. They lived this way for over 34 years. “We were living in only one room; it was in poor conditions, almost uninhabitable,” says María.
María received a visit from the Habitat staff and she showed them her house and the way that they were living. The staff explained the program and that she was selected as one of the beneficiaries. “A few years ago, we learned about Habitat and applied, but could not afford a house. Later, when a promoter came visit us again and told us about this program, we were really happy to finally have our new home,” mentions María.
When asked how they feel with their new home, María answers, “I feel very grateful and thrilled with our home! Now, our dream has become a reality and we can sleep in a safe space, without feeling cold. Our home is very pretty.” She continues, “My husband and I are old and now we do not have to worry about anything related to our house; it is safe for our daughters and their future too.”
By receiving this house, María explains that their lives have improved greatly because they no longer suffering from the cold during rainy season. They do not worry about getting respiratory diseases or any other ailment.
Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, María mentions, “These times have been complicated. We have lacked work, but having our house has made us feel safer. We have one thing less to worry about now. This house is well built; we do not have to worry about the rain or cold. During this pandemic we have enjoyed staying inside our house – the girls can play and enjoy themselves. While I’m cooking, they are playing in the room. We are all together and safe. ”
As part of the Hybrid House Programs, families also receive a smokeless stove, a water filter and a pila (outdoor washing station). This helps them improve their health by giving them adequate access to proper sanitation, potable water, and a smoke free environment. The family no longer suffers from gastrointestinal problems thanks to their water filter. Now, it is easier and safer to drink potable water from the filter. Regarding the stove, María used to cook over an open flame, causing the smoke to stay inside their house, “The old stove made my eyes feel irritated, and my lungs hurt too. I have been cooking like that since I was a little girl. Now, I feel happy to cook on the new stove… it is very big!” says María.
María finishes by sharing a message to the donors, “Tiox! We are very grateful to God and each one of you. We do not know how many sacrifices you have made in order to support us. Thank you for giving us this gift, our precious home! I wish I could get to know you and thank you in person, that is why I am sending my greetings and regards to each one of you and your families.” She finishes, “I am sure, God will repay you for your support.”