Blog > > Health and Wellness Program

Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Health and Wellness Program
Steve Cook

Carolina and child

Carolina lives in Peña Blanca, a small town in Sololá, in a turquoise house surrounded by growing corn and a large banana tree. As a small team of Mayan Families staff arrives for a visit, she is washing clothes in her pila, or outdoor washing station. She cracks a smile that turns into a laugh when she sees us, and we are invited into her one-bedroom home, ducking our heads in the doorway.

Carolina is 27 years old and has four children, one of whom attends a Mayan Families Preschool. Carolina is a full-time mom who sometimes makes extra money by recycling glass bottles. 

In the corner, three feet away from the closest bed, is the smokeless stove given to her by Mayan Families, currently being used to keep soup warm. The cement walls and wooden support beams that surround in the room are black with soot, showing years of smoke from her previous, open and unventilated stove. But today, no smoke is leaking into the house, as the new, clean cookstove burns all the toxic fumes out the chimney.

As our team talks with Carolina, her children want to play, giving high-fives and drawing stick figures on pieces of paper.  

“I was always worried that my children would get hurt,” Carolina shares with us, “I used to cook on the floor with an open flame, and I was nervous for their safety.”   

Girl in front of efficient stove

Carolina’s story is far too common in Guatemala. In rural areas such as this, two-thirds of mothers still use open-faced stoves to cook their meals, often right next to their living quarters. Due to tradition or lack of access to efficient cookstoves,  many families don’t have the resources they need to keep themselves and their children healthy.

Carolina tells our team that a group of students came to install the stove for her in May of this year.

“They told me to keep it clean,” she shares. “So I do. Every 15 days I wash it. The more I keep it clean, the longer it will help me support my family. Now it’s much easier to cook. There is less risk for my kids. Their health is improving as well.

Saving money is a further benefit to having a cook stove. 98% of families in rural Sololá still cook with firewood but with a stove like the one provided, families can save up to 50% of their weekly firewood costs.

“I used to spend too much money on firewood, but now I’m able to save” Carolina says.

On a shelf next to her stove is Carolina’s water filter, also donated by Mayan Families. As water in Guatemala is too polluted to drink, families often have to make the choice of purchasing all their water or using firewood to boil it. Fortunately, a small ceramic filter can be a much better option

Woman and son with filter

“I used to have to boil water, or go to the store and buy, every time my family wanted to drink. Now we save money with our new filter. “

When asked what recommendations she would give to other families who are given filters, Carolina tells us, “Clean it! These items are something to be appreciated and to take care of.”

Stories like Carolina’s and the impact a simple stove or filter can make in the life of a family is why at Mayan Families we are committed to partnering with more families in helping them improve their quality of life.

We know that a healthy family and healthy students have a better chance of succeeding and going further in life alongside a great education.  

If you’d like to get more involved in and support the important work we are doing with Guatemalan families in the areas of nutrition and health, or would like to donate a filter or stove to a family who could benefit, you can read more here.  


Please click this link to donate.

  • $77 is enough to provide a new water filter to a much needed family.
  • $186 is enough to install a new smokeless stove.

Share Share on Tumblr
Back To List
Mayan Families · +1 (619) 550-2608 · · ©2019 Mayan Families · Top Rated Charity by Great Nonprofits