88 Healthy Home Kits from Habitat for Humanity Netherlands

Elena Juan Miguel with her family and their new latrine.

This past week, 88 Healthy Home Kits were completed in the community of San Vicente de Paul, in the department of Escuintla, Guatemala. The funds for this project were provided by Habitat for Humanity Netherlands, and make a lasting impact in the lives of the beneficiary families. The mood of the day was happy and festive, with several community members sharing their gratitude for the project and expressing their hope that Habitat for Humanity Netherlands would continue to support the people of Guatemala. 

Elena Juan Miguel, a beneficiary of the project, spoke with happiness for the generosity of Habitat for Humanity Netherlands: “I really want to thank the donor,” she shared. “This has been such a big help. They didn’t come just to give stuff away; they really involved the families in the process. We had to work hard to build our latrine. My husband dug out the earth for the new latrine himself.”

Elena Juan Miguel with her family and their new water filter.

For families like Elena’s, a Healthy Home Kit, which consists of a latrine, a smokeless stove, and a water filter, makes a substantial difference in their quality of life. 95% of drinking water in Guatemala is contaminated, so without access to a water filter, people contract parasites and other water-borne diseases, including cholera, salmonella, and E.Coli. And Guatemala’s most impoverished families often have no choice but to cook over an open flame. This often leads to health problems and burns; 52% of Guatemalans suffer from a respiratory disease caused by indoor smoke inhalation.

It is for these reasons that the Healthy Home Kit program is a primary focus. Habitat for Humanity Guatemala is grateful for this partnership with Habitat for Humanity Netherlands that will make a lasting difference in the lives of 88 families!

A new Habitat for Humanity latrine with the old latrine visible in the background.

The old latrine.

Angelina Miguel with her new smokeless stove.

María with her children and their new smokeless stove.

A new Habitat for Humanity Guatemala latrine.

Building 100 Stoves to Celebrate our 100,000th Housing Solution!

This April, we are celebrating our 100,000th Housing Solution! From the 21st until the 29th of April, we will build with partner affiliates from the United States in Antigua and Zacapa. Thank you for making it possible for us to reach this goal!

But we’re not done yet. As part of our mission to improve housing in Guatemala, we work to better the situations of our most vulnerable families: those who earn between $2 and $4 daily. In honor of our 100K milestone we are seeking to support 100 vulnerable families with a smokeless stove. Donate here

Why a stove? Habitat Guatemala smokeless stoves improve the health of families by eliminating disease-inducing indoor smoke and lowering the risk of burns from cooking over an open flame. Additionally, smokeless stoves cut the amount of wood needed to cook almost in half, saving families money and time.

One smokeless stove costs $100 USD and drastically improves the homes of families. Help us support Guatemalans by donating today. (If you choose to support this initiative, make sure to designate your donation to 100K!)

Volunteer: The Women’s Build

22631732941_6758a6dacd_kIn October, we did a special volunteer home build. It was an exploration of women’s issues in Guatemala and how they relate to building homes. The 10-day experience was a huge success, partially because volunteers were able to experience daily Guatemalan life and go deeper into what that really means.

Here’s what team leader Tina Godfrey has to say:

“I highly recommend the “Women’s Build” which gave the team the opportunity to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the culture and background of the families we were helping. Being invited into their homes, dining and talking with members of the families and cooperatives,  team members felt a far deeper connection, making the trip  more rewarding. During evening discussions on culture, history,  politics and the economy the team shared their own insights and observations and were able to ask questions of the locals adding further perspective and understanding.  Despite the language and cultural barriers a mutual respect quickly emerged and it was soon apparent that a universal desire for peace and for our children to flourish transcends all  barriers. Small acts of kindness and cooperation build trust. The quiet dignity and persistence of the hardworking people of Guatemala who warmly welcomed us into their lives inspired and touched us all.  We finished the week with renewed perspective and thankfulness.”


Want to build with us? Check out our upcoming builds in December, January, and February. Note that our January build is special as well, themed around growing coffee.

Top 5 Reasons Families Apply for a New Home

Migdalia Godinez Gómez and baby Wilson stand in front of their old house whose walls had been cracked by a 2012 earthquake.

Migdalia Godinez Gómez and baby Wilson stand in front of their old house whose walls had been cracked by a 2012 earthquake.

We have an ongoing relationship with the families we work with. For example, promoters in every region are assigned to work with a family from the start of their application process until their move-in day, supporting them along the way with necessary paperwork and legal processes. As a part of that relationship, we also visit each family that has worked with a volunteer group after they’ve moved in to their new housing. We hear their about their experience from start to finish, including stories about working alongside the volunteers.

One of the most revealing questions we ask is, “Why did you decide to apply for a new home?”

We’ve compiled a list of the most common answers, in ascending order.

5. “The adobe was humid”

Over time, adobe houses become old and weak. This process is expedited when the house doesn’t get much air flow, or when the walls are consistenly exposed to rain. Many times, you can visibly see the moisture’s progress on its way from the ground on old houses. This slow structural doom creates a serious security risk.

4. “We feared another earthquake would topple the house”

This one is more regional. In the last few years, a number of earthquakes have rattled Guatemala, including a really strong one in 2012. Since then, families have lived in adobe homes that have severe cracks and structural damage. The majority of these cases happen around the departments of Quetzaltenango, Sololá, and especially San Marcos.

Another notable fact is that after the 2012 earthquake, Guatemala’s national government offered new housing to many people whose homes were destroyed, but their promise was unfulfilled in many cases.

3. “The roof leaked water”

The majority of roofs in Guatemalan houses is made with corrugated galvanized steel. It’s cheap, not hard to install, and you can overlap sheets easily to direct the rain away from the house. The problem is that, in time, it deteriorates with rust and holes. And it’s not fun to wake up to a roof that’s dripping on you in the middle of a night.

2. “There was no space”

Families grow. And more often than not, “there was no space” also means “five of us were sharing a bedroom,” or in some cases, “five of us were sharing a bed.” And when there’s a young couple with one child and another on the way, sharing one bedroom isn’t ideal.

1. “We wanted a house of our own”

Overwhelmingly, families respond to this question by saying they wanted something of their own. Often times, young couples live with in-laws in an extra bedroom, and they don’t feel independent. Other times, families rent apartments but expensive monthly rent and property rules make them feel suppressed. Having the keys to a house and the liberty to come and go as you please makes all the difference. Even if they didn’t make monthly payments before, across the board, families say vale la pena. It’s worth it.

You may be interested:

Overcoming a hurricane: The Guadalupe Ardon Family

We build much more than houses!

Be a part of the change for healthy and adequate housing!