Santa Cecilia Paniagua – HFH Asheville – Joel Johnson

Santa Cecilia (30),  lives with her husband, Edgar (31), and their 6 children, Ana Cecilia (12), Edgar (10),  Santa Teresa (8), Reina (6), Andrea (4), and Rosa Adriana (2) in a small community in Chimaltenango. While Edgar works in the fields, Santa Cecilia takes care of the children and the household chores.
As part of Habitat Guatemala’s smokeless stove program, families receive a stove that helps them improve their health and living conditions. Families are also required to get involved in the construction process and the collection of some local materials.

Santa Cecilia explains; “I used to cook over an open flame, on a small stove that I built myself.  I cooked on it for over ten years, and all the smoke stayed inside our kitchen, causing me and the children many respiratory diseases, and red eyes.” She learned about the program through a local committee member, and did not hesitate to sign up!

“We were very exited and happy to be a part of this project, because we could not afford a stove like this. My husband built the adobe blocks and we  also helped him,” says Santa Cecilia.

She feels satisfied with her new stove; “I feel very happy, my girls enjoy to prepare tortillas with me! we have fun cooking together,” she continues,”We now use much less wood. With three pieces of wood, I can prepare our tortillas, atol and beans at the same time. Even our “nixtamal” takes less wood to get prepared.”

Santa Cecilia refers to their time with the volunteers; “It was a very special day for us, we enjoyed having them here. We still have the picture we took together,” she continues, “Thanks to all of you! Our family is very grateful for you and your support.”