Vicenta Saloj – Hybrid House Program

Vicenta (34), and her three children, Michael (17), Jennifer (13) and Britney (9), are the proud owners of a new Hybrid House, in the municipality of Santa Lucía Utatlán, Sololá. Vicenta is a single mother who works in the fields, cleans houses, washes cloths, among other tasks, while Michael also works in the fields, Jennifer and Britney are studying.

Vicenta 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.

Quick facts about the new Hybrid Home:

1. At just $3,300 USD, it costs less than half the price of a standard HFHG home.

2. The home is partially subsidized, acknowledging that the population we are serving does not have access to an income that would allow them to pay a mortgage. The family contributes sweat equity, creating the adobe blocks as well as participating in the construction of their new home.

3. The structure can be built in a time frame of approximately a two weeks.

4. This is a new effort to support the sector of the population that is living in the poorest conditions.

5.  The house also includes an smokeless stove, sanitary latrine, water filter and a “pila”

As previously explained, this solution is partially subsidized which means that beneficiary families are asked to contribute towards the cost of materials, provide unskilled labor such as preparing the adobe blocks, among other tasks.

Before partnering with Habitat Guatemala, Vicenta mentioned that her and her family used to live in a house built out of old pieces of wood. They lived this way for over 15 years. “We were living in only one room built out of old pieces of wood that was already rotten. During the night, I did not sleep, because I was just guarding my children, watching that they did not one suffer from cold,” says Vicenta.

One day, Vicenta received a visit from Habitat staff. She showed them his house and the way that they were living. The staff explained the program and that she was selected as one of the beneficiaries. “It was a complete surprise for my family and I! when they explained all the process and the few expenses I had to make I answered; ” I do not have any money, but this is going to be our house, the opportunity to improve the life of my children. So, I am going to find the way, I am going to work extra hours and find new incomes.  I said to my children, that we were going to maybe miss a piece of bread during the process, but it was going to be of big benefit in the future,” mentions Vicenta.

When asked how they feel with their new home,  Vicenta answers, “When we received the news of our house being approved, it was of great joy!! And when we saw all the materials arriving, it finally it us, it was a reality!” she continues, “We feel very very happy, I watch my girls playing happily inside the house. Michael mentions that he feels comfortable in the house too, we are very very grateful to all the people who supported us to build our home!  Jennifer adds, “I feel happy, content with our new house. I feel safe too! the old one was insecure and cold. Britany adds “I feel very happy too, i was scared of being there.”  In the future, the family is planning to add a garden.

Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Vicenta mentions, “These times have been complicated, we have had lack of work and other things, but having our house has made us feel safer. We have one thing less to worry about now, because this house is well built, we do not have to worry about the rain, cold or sun. During this pandemic we have enjoyed staying inside our house, girls can play and enjoy. We stay inside the house, while Im 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 sanitary latrine a water filter and a pila This helps them improve their health by giving them adequate access to proper sanitation, potable water and a smoke free environment. The family  had felt a difference with their  new water filter. Before, they drank water directly from the sink, which caused them to suffer from intestinal distress. Now, it is easier and safer to drink potable water from the filter. Regarding the stove, Vicenta used to cook over an open fire on the floor, causing the smoke to stay inside their house, “the new one is much different, it is working great and consumes less wood. We no longer have to go and gather very often. Regarding their old latrine, they shared it with 10 more relatives. “Now, we have our own room, and we feel happy with it! we are happy with all our products,” says Vicenta.

When asked about her favorite part of the house, Vicenta smiles and answers: “Everything! first of all, I like the floor because it is easy to clean,

Vicenta and the girls share their memories and experiences during the week of construction with the volunteers: “It was a very special week for us. We were happy to meet and receive people from other country! They worked very hard, hand by hand next to us and we had so much fun too.” Jennifer adds: “We felt really happy, I spend time with people that I did not know before, but felt like family. I will always cherish them in my heart.” When asked about her favorite part of the house, Vicenta smiles and answers: “Everything! first of all, I like the floor because it is easy to clean, I like the windows for clarity and keeps the house fresh.”  Jennifer and Britany add, “We just like everything! We enjoy to listen to music, we like to draw and read, just to play together.”

Vicenta finishes by sharing a message to the volunteers, “We thank you from the bottom of our heart for your support. May God bless you and your family. THANK YOU for coming to build with us, you are now part of our family, we love you and will never forget you. We hope to see you again someday, feel welcome to come and visit us.”  Jennifer adds ” Thank you for taking the time to come and build with us our new. It is very very pretty!