The Safe Stove Project
The Pop Wuj Stove project started in 1993 in order to fight the many smoke-related illnesses, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) and ARI (acute respiratory illness), that present themselves in the developing world as a result of constant interaction with open fires. These illnesses are the leading cause of death among children in Guatemala. The addition of stoves to one-room homes also make them much safer places for children and minimize the frequent accidents that happen around an open fire.
Over the years Pop Wuj has reviewed and modified the safe stove design numerous times. One of the founding members of Pop Wuj is the author of the current design and its popularity results from its durability, ease of construction, and accessibility of materials. The easy design also allows the volunteers and community members to work side by side in their construction.
The materials and transportation costs for our culturally-appropriate stoves are $160 US. In harmony with our ongoing effort to make lasting, long-term change in Guatemala, we opt to use quality materials to ensure each stove lasts for many years.
In addition to being safer for homes, this project also supports our Environmental Program by offering communities a more fuel efficient way to prepare food. For the same amount of energy produced, these stoves consume less than half of the wood used in an open fire.
Throughout the year, Pop Wuj recycles plastic, paper, glass, and metal collected from the Spanish school as well as the families of children who attend the Family Support Center. We also encourage families in the Safe Stove Project to bring their plastic recycling to the Family Support Center. The small amount of money we raise from this activity is reinvested back into our projects.
In many rural communities, the burning of plastic for heating, cooking, or waste management is an ongoing challenge. Despite being extremely toxic, plastic is readily available and easily combustible. Pop Wuj’s recycling program provides an incentive to keep plastic in its place, and is a joint effort by students and volunteers of the Family Support Center and the Pop Wuj language school.
During the rainy season, specifically June and July, Pop Wuj also conducts a reforestation project in the communities where we work. Due to the reliance on open fires and wood stoves for cooking and heating in Guatemala, deforestation is a widespread problem that threatens the environment as well as the human population. Pop Wuj's reforestation project is not affiliated with any government program and plants trees only on private land.