Monday, March 23, 2015

The Pop Wuj Safe Stove Project: Interviews and New Group Meeting

Text and photos by Amy Scheuren

The Pop Wuj Safe Stove Project continues year round and we are constantly receiving requests from new families.  We are finishing up the current 7-family group in Llanos del Pinal and are moving on to the preparations for the next group.  In February we visited 10 families in Llanos del Pinal and Xecaracoj (another community in the Valle de Palajunoj) and conducted in-home interviews with the mothers and some fathers. 

A corrugated tin kitchen with gaps at the top to allow some of the smoke to escape

A family's kitchen "before" a Safe Stove.  The walls are new, but are just stacked blocks without cement.

Families in rural areas are cooking over open fires in enclosed spaces, thus breathing in smoke and fine particles.  Respiratory illness, eye problems, and accidental are typical health consequences for women who cook in these conditions and their children.  Just conducting the interviews in their homes is enough to give volunteers headaches for the rest of day.
Another before kitchen with blackened corrugated tin walls

Another before kitchen of corrugated tin

In early March we invited all of the new families to attend the Pop Wuj Safe Stove group meeting in Xela.  As always we explained what exactly Pop Wuj is (and isn't), the health effects of cooking over open fires, the environmental consequences of such inefficient fires, the growing problem of burning plastic/trash, the cultural and historical aspects, and finally the logistics of the project.

Carmencita, introducing Pop Wuj to the group

Doña Sonia, who helped organize the new Safe Stove group,
introduces herself and the women from her community in Xecaracoj.

Staci and Kevin, two Pop Wuj Medical Spanish students (and medical residents!),
explain the health problems often caused by breathing smoke and fine particles

Play time for the little ones
All of the families signed the agreement at the end of the meeting and agreed to participate in the material buying and delivery day after Semana Santa in April.  We need to finish building the last few stoves in the current group before we can start building in the new group.  Pop Wuj Spanish students continue to provide the labor for the project as part of their Pop Wuj experience.  A construir!

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