Cooking area before, right. Small Change 4 Big Change ecological stove, left. The walls are black because they are covered in soot.
An open pit fire inside the home is the most common method for cooking in the rural areas of Guatemala. This method of cooking uses substantial amounts of wood, is inefficient and hurts the environment. Moreover, the health of the family suffers because of stagnant smoke, causing respiratory problems and vision problems, as well as burns. (Even white laundry hung nearby or the grannies’ white hair will all be stained yellow because of smoke.) Families that can afford to buy wood, do so. Families that can’t afford firewood will spend hours each week going into the hills and looking for fallen branches to use as wood. (It is illegal to cut down trees so they have to forage what they can find.) The children are often sent, which means they miss school or don’t have time to finish homework. If a mother goes, she is taking time out from weaving, which is likely her only source of income.
Stoves manufactured locally use 60% less wood, which means families save time (looking for wood), money (buying wood), and energy (less wood). The ecological stove uses a chimney, which means the smoke leave the house through the roof. (One woman joked that she used to cry because of all the smoke in her eyes, and now she can only cry because of her husband.) The respiratory health of the family improves and the children’s lungs are able develop normally and vision problems decline. Families may save up to two days of work every week since they don’t have to collect and chop so much firewood, and children have more time to study or even play. Finally, there is a positive impact for the environment since hundreds of trees can be saved every year.
Small Change 4 Big Change has installed close to 200 stoves and they are by far one of the most popular projects, because people see the results immediately. There is always a waiting list for stoves.
The cost to sponsor a stove for a family in need is $200 USD. For more information about this project, contact Lisa at email@example.com. If you would like to support the stove project, please click the “donate” button below.
Two “before” kitchens, a family receiving their new stove, Small Change 4 Big Change ecological stoves in action, a stove being used in in cooking class (preparing crepes with vegetables harvested in the community garden).