Monday, December 1, 2008
I can't say how happy I was to get dirty last week! Granted, I'm often coated in dust and don't get to shower every day, but this is different. Last week I helped make two stoves! Many of you may have heard my lecture on the importance of wood stoves- so here's the abridged version. Many people living in Panabaj (the community outside of Santiago) cook on open fires on a dirt floor. There is no ventilation, the space is crowded, and they can only cook one thing at a time. The lack of ventilation leads to chronic lung problems by age 30 for most of the women, who are constantly cooking for the family. Children often suffer burns from falling into the open fires or hot coals. The amount of wood required to fuel these fires is staggering: a 20 year old tree will be cut down to supply a family of 5 for 1 month according to the MCC country representative in Guatemala. The wood is expensive, and deforestation is one of the causes of the mudslide in 2005. The new stoves are vented, insulated, easy to make, and efficient. ANADESA is the local organization working with the community. In order to receive a stove, the family has to provide some sort of assistance to ANADESA, usually in the form of making fabric or crafts that can be sold. (We sent a bunch of beaded Christmas ornaments home from here) The money then offsets the cost of the stoves. Donations for projects like this can also be made directly, as was the case for these two. A company from Canada sent down a bunch of their employees to help carry the project through to the end, and they were thrilled. The families were too- despite the blank faces in their pictures. They were cracking up until I counted to three, then they got stoic, then cracked up again after I took the picture and showed it to them.