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Rebuild Homes in Guatemala after Volcano Disaster

by Fundacion Habitat para la Humanidad Guatemala
Rebuild Homes in Guatemala after Volcano Disaster
Rebuild Homes in Guatemala after Volcano Disaster
Rebuild Homes in Guatemala after Volcano Disaster
Rebuild Homes in Guatemala after Volcano Disaster
Rebuild Homes in Guatemala after Volcano Disaster
Rebuild Homes in Guatemala after Volcano Disaster
Rebuild Homes in Guatemala after Volcano Disaster
Rebuild Homes in Guatemala after Volcano Disaster
Rebuild Homes in Guatemala after Volcano Disaster
Rebuild Homes in Guatemala after Volcano Disaster
Rebuild Homes in Guatemala after Volcano Disaster
Rebuild Homes in Guatemala after Volcano Disaster
Angela in front of her new Habitat home
Angela in front of her new Habitat home

Fueled by an outpouring of support from donors and volunteers in the wake of the June 3rd, 2018 Fuego Volcano eruption, Habitat for Humanity Guatemala carried out a comprehensive multi-stage response project, attending to the immediate needs of affected families and rebuilding permanent solutions for their long-term well-being. 

In the first few weeks following the event, as we carefully analyzed the situation and how our organization could best respond, we launched donation drives in our offices across the country, collecting medicine and supplies for survivors. As time progressed, we turned our efforts to the population of displaced families who had sought refuge outside of official government shelters, living instead with friends or family members. We found that in many cases, multiple families were living in one host home, putting a significant strain on household space and resources. Through the delivery of water filters, portable clean cookstoves, water tanks, outdoor washing stations, and economic vouchers, we helped improve the living conditions of families in dozens of host homes. In addition, we provided construction improvements in 28 host homes, expanding living spaces, creating wall divisions, and fixing leaky roofs.

Finally, we shifted into the last stage of our response project—reconstruction—breaking ground in the Valle de las Flores housing community in September of last year. Once the government declared the communities destroyed by the eruption as uninhabitable, we decided to focus on building new homes in a safe area outside of the risk zone. Over the course of 10 months, we built and delivered 41 homes for families who had lost everything in the tragedy. Each beneficiary family provided “sweat equity” for their home by working alongside local masons and volunteers in the home-building process. Families also participated in a series of educational training workshops, strengthening community organization, healthy home maintenance, household finances, and emotional health.

Recently, we visited Valle de las Flores, speaking with families about their experiences after moving into their new homes. Angela, a mother of three living in her new Habitat home, told us, “I feel calm and content. Before I felt lost without a place to live. Now, little by little we feel more stable, because we know it belongs to us.” Another homeowner, Lilian, said, “It feels really different here. The children can come and go safely. I feel more calm.” Reflecting on the fateful day, she said, “Nobody ever imagined that on the day of the tragedy we would lose everything. Thank you to everyone that donated to support us.”

We invite you to stay engaged with Habitat for Humanity Guatemala's ongoing work, partnering with families and communities to provide housing solutions. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Lilian with her children and new Habitat home
Lilian with her children and new Habitat home
New Habitat homes in Valle de las Flores
New Habitat homes in Valle de las Flores
Willian and family in their new home
Willian and family in their new home

During this spring, Habitat for Humanity Guatemala has made continued progress with our Fuego Volcano Response project, inaugurating 21 more homes for families affected by the disaster of last June. As each home of this phase went up, the first set of 16 partner families has continued to put down roots in Valle de las Flores and eagerly anticipate their new neighbors, many of whom they knew from their former communities. The general sentiment of the families is that of rebirth and reestablished tranquility that their new homes and community allow them to achieve.

In April, 21 more families were formally integrated into Valle de las Flores, as Habitat Guatemala delivered the keys to their new homes. As with the first 16 families, these individuals are originally from the hardest hit communities of San Miguel Los Lotes and Aldea El Rodeo. Some were living with host families prior to their relocation to Valle de las Flores, while others were living in the temporary transitional shelters set up by the government. In most cases, families lost all of their belongings, many loved ones, and their employment as a result of the disaster.

Since receiving their homes, these families have begun to integrate as neighbors and members of the community. Their response has been that of gratitude, for both Habitat Guatemala and the donors who have made it possible. They perceive the project as an opportunity to take back their peace of mind and to begin their lives anew.

Over the next few weeks, the final four homes of the project will be completed and delivered to their respective partner families. In the year following the tragedy, through the incredible support of donors, Habitat Guatemala has been able to build homes for 41 families who lost everything in the tragic eruption last June. This spring, we witness a fresh beginning for hundreds of Guatemalans who now have a safe roof over their heads and can move forward with strength and stability.

Inauguration of second set of homes
Inauguration of second set of homes
New homes in Valle de las Flores
New homes in Valle de las Flores
Partner families entering their new homes
Partner families entering their new homes

Over the past few months, there’s been lots of excitement in Valle de las Flores, where Habitat Guatemala has been building homes for families affected by last year’s Fuego Volcano disaster. In December, we held a ceremony to inaugurate the first set of 16 houses, which was an exciting event filled with joy and emotion as our partner families received the keys to their new homes.

Since December, the families have been settling in their community, parents have started new jobs, and children have begun attending new schools. Throughout the transition, Habitat Guatemala’s partner families have bonded together in solidarity to support one another as they move on from the tragedy of last year.

Sherly, a mother of three living in her new Habitat home, has became involved with the local parent teacher organization and has supported other mothers in enrolling their children in school. Bernardo and his wife have opened up a little convenience store and have also been providing lunches for the masons working on the next phase of houses.

In total, Habitat Guatemala plans to build 42 homes as part of our reconstruction efforts. The next 13 homes will be completed by the end of February, and the final 13 are planned for mid-April. A few weeks ago, all 42 partner families came together, to meet one another and begin to form their own community. As many of the families have mutual friends and connections, given the proximity of where they were living before, there is an overall feeling that Valle de las Flores will be a happy new place to call home.

Don Bernardo speaking at the inauguration
Don Bernardo speaking at the inauguration
Sherly and her daughters in their new home
Sherly and her daughters in their new home
Second set of houses in progress
Second set of houses in progress
Beneficiary families who will receive new homes
Beneficiary families who will receive new homes

Since our last update just three months ago, Habitat Guatemala has made exciting progress with our Fuego Volcano response. Through our efforts, we have continued to support displaced families living with host families, providing water filters and home improvements to make living conditions healthier and more comfortable. In 25 host homes, our team has worked to expand living spaces, create walls to separate rooms, and fix leaky roofs.

In late September, Habitat Guatemala broke ground on the first set of permanent homes for 16 high-need families who lost everything in the eruption. Local and international volunteers have participated throughout the construction process – mixing cement, laying concrete blocks, and making rebar columns – which has lowered costs and accelerated build time. The beneficiary families have also been active throughout the construction, as part of the Habitat principle of “sweat equity”.

On December 12th, the first 16 homes will be inaugurated in the residences of Valle de Las Flores in Escuintla. With these homes, 16 families will be able to spend the holidays in their safe new space, just six months after a tragedy that dramatically altered their lives. To support families as they transition into their new homes, we have provided different workshops on community harmony, financial education, and disaster response.

The second set of 13 homes are currently under construction, and will be complete in early 2019. In addition, 7 more lots have been purchased for construction next year. Habitat Guatemala is grateful for the support our response efforts have received, and we hope to continue providing additional families with permanent housing solutions as funding allows.

Thank you for allowing families to celebrate the holidays under a new roof!

Volunteers working on the first phase of homes
Volunteers working on the first phase of homes
Families receiving a training from Habitat staff
Families receiving a training from Habitat staff
Partner families visiting site of future homes
Partner families visiting site of future homes

Thanks to your contribution, Habitat for Humanity Guatemala has successfully carried out relief efforts for families affected by the Fuego Volcano disaster. Early on in our response, we decided to focus our support on those who had evacuated their homes and sought shelter with host families, as this population was missed by other NGOs and government bodies. Our team spent several weeks identifying 165 sheltered families living with 58 host families. The interventions we have provided improve living conditions in the often cramped and unequipped spaces that these families are sharing.

To date, we have distributed 52 water filters and 50 wood-burning smokeless stoves to the host homes, benefitting both the sheltered and host families with clean water and healthy cooking areas. In addition, 11 washing sinks and 14 water storage tanks have been installed in homes, on an as-needed basis. Finally, 147 families have received economic support to subsidize the cost of food and rent.

Although we originally planned to provide emergency kits to clean up affected homes, when the government deemed the affected areas currently uninhabitable, it became clear that families would not be able to return for months or in many cases, forever. For those families who can never return, they will need to rebuild, which leads us to our next phase-- reconstruction. Right now, 16 families are signed on to build homes with Habitat Guatemala in the residential area where we have purchased land, called Valle de las Flores.

One woman who Habitat Guatemala has worked with in our relief efforts is Aura. A single mom from El Rodeo, Aura was forced to flee her home after the eruption. She was close friends with the parents of Jorge and Jilmar, brothers who their lost many family members including their parents in the tragedy. Even though they share no relation by blood, Aura felt compelled to give the boys a place to live in the aftermath and took them in the home she is renting in Escuintla. She hopes to be able to return to her home following the rainy season and Jorge and Jilmar have been selected to receive permanent housing through Habitat Guatemala. We have delivered a water filter, stove, water tank, washing sink and will help cover 80% of Aura's rent for the next 6 months. While unrelated, these two families have legitimately become one. Aura loves her stove too!

Aura, Jorge, and Jilmar
Aura, Jorge, and Jilmar
Sky Zone and Habitat Staff with Wendy
Sky Zone and Habitat Staff with Wendy

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Organization Information

Fundacion Habitat para la Humanidad Guatemala

Location: Quetzaltenango - Guatemala
Project Leader:
Makensie Brown
Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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