Text by Adam Wohlman
On Thursday, April 21 Pop Wuj hosted a benefit dinner to raise money for the Safe Stoves Project, currently operating in the communities of Llanos del Pinal and Xecaracoj, which was attended by nearly 65 people! If you’re unfamiliar with the project, Pop Wuj has been building safe stoves in the rural communities surrounding Xela for almost 24 years, as both a response to common respiratory illnesses associated with cooking over an open fire in an enclosed space and the inefficiency of such fires and their contribution to deforestation. Furthermore, respiratory illnesses are currently the leading cause of death among children in Guatemala. Having recently completed community interviews with potential participants, selected our newest group of beneficiaries, and purchased construction materials, our goal for the evening was to raise additional funds in order to send out stove building teams a bit more frequently. We want to build 50 stoves in 2016!
The night was planned and executed by our team of interns, including Robyn, Chris, Amalyah, and myself, along with the support and guidance of the extraordinary Carmelina. As our guests arrived, they were greeted by an array of lively Latin beats (I saw plenty of dancing) and our experienced bartender, Robyn, who served up fresh, made-to-order mojitos all night long, which were a huge hit. Just before dinner there was a short screening of this brief documentary (check it out!!) to further familiarize our guests with the project, and then everyone hit the burrito bar. Carmencita, Director of Social Projects, and Mynor, chief stove engineer, shared their 20+ years of experience and insights working in the project, from its initial development, support, and evolution to today, and the night concluded with an hour of live music performed by several current students from the Pop Wuj language school.
It gives me great pleasure to announce that we raised more than Q1,700 quetzales and will now be able to double the number of construction groups that we send out to build stoves every week! This means that we will be able to complete all necessary construction among the current group of beneficiaries twice as fast as we anticipated and begin identifying the next group of participants much sooner than expected, ultimately serving more people in need. You won't want to miss our next fundraiser!
|Robyn was once in a 'bubble letter' club #skillz|
|The spread! (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)|
|Pop Wuj Safe Stoves Project documentary screening. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)|
|Bartender extraordinaire Robyn held down the mojito bar all night. (Photo by Elizabeth Barnes)|