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.

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