Tag Archives: Stove Project

3 More Weeks!

So, it’s official! I’m going to stay in Guatemala for 3 more weeks! I’ll now be returning on the 27th of July. I chose to stay longer because I’m enjoying improving my Spanish, I like participating in all the projects, and (duh) I love it here.

Along the lines of the projects, I’ll post an update on the stove project. The stoves are built in three steps. Step 1 is the base, step 2 is 3 rows of bricks, and step 3 is adding the plancha, chimney and smoothing a concrete border. I learned how to complete step 3 a few weeks ago. Even though the stove is officially completed it needs to dry for two months before the family can use it.

Completed stove

Mynor working on the stove, showing us how to smooth the concrete

Our team learning the art of step 3

So, after learning from Mynor, Stacy and I got to become jefes! That’s right, we were in charge of step 3 all by ourselves! I had a great group of volunteers who were very energetic, and helpful when it came to problem solving. Our stove was flush to the wall, which is kind of unusual, so we were unable to use a frame for the concrete border. We ended up forming one from spare wood that the stove recipient provided.

Mike sawing through our temporary framing in front of an audience

It was very satisfying to complete a stove, and it was doubly so because I was directing the process. It makes me feel good that I actually am helping at least a little bit, rather than just aimlessly going around participating on various projects. We only have two or three stoves left, and they will be completed soon. This coming week Stacy and I are going to help go around and interview people who want stoves in their homes, and we are going to see if we can scrape any money together. Funding is such an integral part of this project, as without any money we can’t build any stoves, no matter how many volunteers there are.

'My' stove, before framing and cleaning up

We piled in the bed of a pick-up to get to Tierra Colorada one day. What we'll do for a free ride...it was way worse than the chicken bus.

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Soooo…Gas or Electric isn’t an Option?

As I believe I’ve written, my days are pretty full. I volunteer in the morning, and take Spanish lessons in the afternoon. The volunteer projects vary throughout the week, and we’re assigned a few days, but basically allowed to participate in whichever ones we choose, with the expectation that we’ll work at least 3 mornings a week.

The fire where all food is cooked

One of the ongoing projects that I’m assisting with is building stoves for the community. Many people who live outside the city proper use a configuration of large stones and wood to cook their food. They burn trash, wood, furniture, plastic…basically whatever they can get their hands on that will burn. The fires aren’t very efficient, and they contribute to localized deforestation. So, Pop Wuj social work group has a project that builds stoves out of cinder blocks, terra cotta bricks, clay, cement and a few other materials. These stoves burn more efficiently and they keep the smoke out of the house. They also help prevent burns, which are fairly common over the open flames.

This is our group mixing clay.

Here's how they mix clay.

The family we were helping today was very grateful. The matriarch is an 80 year old woman and she insisted on helping us. Even when we tried to tell her she didn’t need to help. It’s an interesting experience for the families when a bunch of gringos come in and starts some construction. Stacy let the children play with her camera, which was also a big hit.

The stove we were working on.

Sometimes large groups come to work on the stoves, but if it’s just Pop Wuj students volunteering then there’s only one day of work per week. It’s a slow process, but it will make a large change in these families lives.

Some of our helpers

And they had PUPPIES!!!