Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Stove Materials Buying and Distribution for La Victoria, June 7, 2013

The second of two days of materials purchase and distribution was for La Victoria. On June 7th, we had several volunteers and members of the participant families working together to delivery the building materials.  Just as in Llanos del Pinal, we stopped to pick up the cooktops, chimney tubes, and sombreros (hats). Up next was about 600 lbs. of barro (clay), 880 bricks, and finally eight 100-pound bags of cement. La Victoria is about 45 minutes northwest of Xela (Quetzaltenango).  We met the cinder block truck, which was loaded with 240 blocks, just outside of Esperanza.

The distribution day for La Victoria was a little different compared to our normal distribution methodology in which we go house-to-house to deliver the materials.  Because the area is very hilly and some of the homes are not accessible by vehicle, we made three drops for the eight families. One main drop was for six families at a central location; from there the families distributed the materials to their respective homes. All the families were on hand to unload the materials. Blocks and bricks were piled neatly with their planchas and chimneys by their sides, awaiting their final destinations. Happy faces were made happier with a snack and atol (a hot corn-based drink) from the local women. Once the break was over we finished our deliveries to the other two families. It's time to build some stoves!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Safe Stove Project: Perspectives and reflections from the new general projects coordinator

Last week we were visited by a group of enthusiastic high schoolers from our partner organization, Timmy Global Health.  This Wednesday afternoon I had the opportunity to join a group of these students, led by our Environmental Projects Coordinator, Juan, to build a safe stove in a home in Llanos del Pinal, near the Family Support Center.  I also spent most of Thursday helping Juan's group and another group led by our Family Support Center Coordinator, Adam, to build stoves in the more distant community of La Victoria.  

This was one of the most enriching experiences I have ever had the pleasure of contributing to, as the positive externalities it creates are plentiful: First, it is about 80% more efficient to use these stoves than to cook over an open fire, which greatly reduces not only the amount of wood used, thus curbing rampant deforestation, but also reduces the amount of time rural families must dedicate to collecting this wood.  Perhaps even more important, the safe stoves funnel smoke out of the home, avoiding respiratory problems common among Guatemalan women used to cooking over an open fire.  They also sit high enough to enable women not to constantly bend over, reducing the risk of potential back problems also common among rural Guatemalan women.  Upon completion of the stove, our group leaders take the time to explain the environmental hazards of burning plastic, a common practice among rural Guatemalans, in hopes of further reducing long term environmental degradation.

After each stove is completed, a picture is taken of the family standing proudly in front of their new safe stove (Stay tuned for forthcoming pictures and further descriptions from our most recent stove building efforts provided by our group leaders!)  Watching these families smile standing in front of their stove is an absolute joy, and to be a part of such a groundbreaking development for them makes all of the hard work well worth the reward.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Family Support Center Updates!

It has been a very busy few weeks out at the family support centre. Firstly we had Lauren an ex Pop Wuj student come out and give a couple yoga classes with the kids. Some took to it like ducks to water and others more like cats, but none the less we all had a great time trying.

Then last week we celebrated Día del Árbol or Arbor Day. We took our usual Thursday activity, with the students from Pop Wuj, on the road to the house of Doña Sylvia, our hard working cook at the centre. Juan, the environmental projects coordinator and Adam the centre coordinator conducted a very informative lesson on the importance of trees in our lives, before everyone making a symbolic planting of 6 trees. Of which we have assigned some of the children the responsibility to look after.
Also this Monday marked the start of the rejuvenated recycling program out at the centre. To prevent the burning of plastic in the homes, we are encouraging the kids to bring their plastic bottles from their homes, schools and the streets. The first few days have been a great success, with hundreds of bottles being brought in. We have started a little competition to see which kids can bring the most bottles, so we will update you with this month’s winners in a couple weeks time.