Friday, November 27, 2015

Guatemala: San Miguel Dueñas: November 26 2015


Well it's Thursday and our second-to-last day on the job - so to speak - in Guatemala. But before I start for today, I just want to say how impressed I am with what we do as an organization. This trip has been great so far and as our leader Joshua Trudeau er, I mean Molsberry, said yesterday "Sunny ways, Dan, sunny ways" in preparation for today. (Some people think he resembles our new prime minister...)

Anyway, today is stove day where we are going to install up to five new eco-stoves in homes as part of the Light Up Guatemala project. We hit the road right after breakfast, stopping at Open Windows to pick up Theresa along with a representative from the stove company named Ventura, but I'll just call him Ace from here.

We travelled the same bumpy, winding dirt road up to the village. We met up with Angel and headed for our first job to do an install/demonstration. The home we visited clearly had been been prepared for us to attend as they had removed their old stove and painted and prepared the site for us. Ace took us through the installation process. It seemed like Richard said, "Putting Lego together," but with knife and a hammer. We finished this job and the woman was ecstatic, she had a very young child and having the stove would aid in the entire family's health.

At this point we broke into two separate teams to do the other four stoves, with Kym and Richard as leaders. Another team documented the stories of the people receiving the stoves.

Off we went, heading to our first home - and they weren't home! We're all thinking "What's with that?" and headed off to our second home, where we begin to install the stove and quickly realized Ace, with his tools, was with Richard's team. We had to wait for Ace to finish the other install and head to our location.

In the meantime, we got to spend time within the family compound, watching the kids play (and argue). It was fun watching the kids. Ace showed up, helped us with carving the cinder block assembly so it would fit and we finished the stove. Once again the mother was very, very happy and very gracious. We headed for lunch and met up with the rest of the crew

After lunch, we went back to the first home and found them still away. Lo and behold, we check with the neighbour and find out we were supposed to be at their home. Like duh!

This family was an elderly couple who had their grandson living with them. It was pretty evident that they were not financially well off, even in this community. So we got to work in their kitchen area which was encased in creosote from their on-the-ground stove. Fortunately, we had Ace with us and we were able to install the stove in short order. I was also able to employ the services of the grandson to take over the role of climbing onto the roof to finish the stack. Once again, the family was very happy.

On a side note, it was impressive what this work hardened grandfather was able to do, chopping wood, carting bricks, etc., and the grandmother, who had work on the floor to cook. They had been together for 56 years.

We headed off to where the other team was and couldn't find them. Ace thought he knew where they were. Well, they weren't where he thought they were. But there was a stove there and before we could say anything, the equipment was coming, so we installed another stove. At first, the mother was very pessimistic. She couldn't believe this contraption could do what she needed it to. Once Ace showed her, she was impressed. By the way, this place had so much creosote on the walls and ceiling I'm surprised it had not caught fire. It was a delight watching the mother's face as she saw how it all worked. At this family compound, there was another young family that still had the old-style stove burning; hanging the centre of their kitchen was a bassinet with a child in it listening to music on a cell phone and drifting off to smokey dreams. Ugh! The family was very happy and we were rewarded with fresh bottled water - but somehow Ace managed to score a beer, which he downed in about 20 seconds.

We then went off to catch up with the rest of the group and head back to Dueñas and of course had the record for most installs.

I will end by saying once again that we are having a profound effect on people's lives and we should be very proud of what we do. And, I'm just saying, "this is the best directors' team ever." 

Richard and Joshua installing a new stove.

New stoves, ready to be installed

Neville and Kym installing a new stove

Up onto the roof to finish the chimney.

Happy mom with newly installed stove.

Less wood, less smoke and more cooking surface!

Rubia with her family and new stove.

Saturnina also had a stove installed.
Dan Miller (blog)
DWC board chairperson
Guatemala: November 2015

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