Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stove Shopping Day

Text and photos by Mary Gramiak

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks here at Pop Wuj! After completing the interviews for the incoming stove group, and holding our group meeting the previous weeks, last Wednesday we spent the morning performing La Compra – a morning where we collect and deliver all of the necessary stove materials for the incoming group. 
With this group we have 11 women and families from the communities of Llanos del Pinal and Xecaracoj, all of whom were present to help with the Compra. For each stove there is 110 bricks, 30 cinder blocks, a stovetop, a chimney, a door, and cement, clay, and sand. 

We started by collecting and loading the bricks into the truck, about 1,210 in total. From there we all piled into the back of the truck, a squishy experience to be sure. We then picked up the necessary cinder blocks and sand and headed to the communities in order to distribute the supplies to each home. 

A community member helps unload sand in Xecaracoj
This is where the manual labour aspect of the day really jumped into overdrive. In order to unload all of the materials we set up some assembly line and unloaded the bricks four at a time, and the cinder blocks one at a time. Something which was really cool about the unloading process was the community aspect of it, where everyone worked together to achieve the same goal. It was tough though, and if I never carry another bag of cement in my life I think I would be okay with it. 

The unloading begins. 
Incoming stove recipients held unload bricks.
Something I really appreciated about the Compra was that it gave the participants of the stove program the opportunity to be more involved with the stoves they will be receiving. When the women participate in aspects of the stove building like picking up and delivering supplies it creates a relationship based on teamwork and mutual respect between the participants and the organization. 

Working with Pop Wuj has been a really cool experience because in all projects there’s an emphasis on creating collaborative relationships with the surrounding communities, and working together to develop solutions which directly meets the needs of the population without taking a domineering approach. The Compra this past week was an excellent example of the importance of including community members in all aspects of social and development projects. 

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