To date, New Vision Guatemala has installed over 400 clean burning biostoves in the community of Santa Rosita.
Why did we pick these types of stoves and how are they making a difference?
The Perils of Cooking in Poor Guatemalan Communities
Poor Guatemalas traditionally cook their meals in makeshift wood burning stoves or open fires in their homes. Why? They cannot afford modern appliances. Unlike electricity or propane, wood is free. However, it comes at a great cost to their health.
These make-shift stoves have no chimneys. Families cook and live in the smoke and carbon monoxide produced by these cooking methods. It is by far more harmful for women and children than for men. Women and children spend more time in the home and are subject to greater exposure.
We all know the disastrous effects smoking has on the lungs. Can you imagine what the exposure of 400 cigarettes worth of smoke an hour would do to your health? It would certainly put you at great risk for respitory infections, eye damage, heart and lung disease, and lung cancer. This is what poor Guatemalan families are exposed to on a daily basis who cook over open fires.
What is a BioStove and How Can It Help?
A BioStove is an off-the-grid stove that is not dependent on electricity, propane, or other types of fuel provided by “the grid.” BioStoves usually rely on fuel types that are easier to obtain on one’s own such as wood.
For poor families who cannot afford on-the-grid fuels for their needs, these stoves can be a life-saver. Literally. Companies that make biostoves design them to be more efficient but also more affordable to use.
How New Vision Guatemala Is Using BioStoves To Improve the Health of a Community
To give families a fighting chance, we have been working with missionary teams to install biostoves made by Estufas Chispas in the community of Santa Rosita. This is a poor community with limited access to public transportation, potable water, and where cooking over an open fire is common. In this community we have installed about 400 biostoves with approximately 2000 more to go.
Estufa Chispas designed their stoves with chimneys to push the smoke outside the home and improve the indoor air quality. These stoves also cook more efficiently which means that families require a lot less wood for the same amount of cooking. That is huge for these families where wood gathering absorbs a great amount of their time. They can now use that time for other economic endeavors.
At New Vision, we are committed to continue to helping these families improve their health and add years to their life. We know that with their new stoves these families will see great improvement in their health and reap the benefits for years to come.
How the Estufa Chispa is More Culturally Acceptable
Not all clean burning stoves are created equally. While some stoves may be incredibly efficient and great at minimizing indoor air pollution, they will not necessarily be culturally accepted. Cooking is an important element of Guatemalan culture and so the stove we chose had to have cultural buy-in.
Estufas Chispa made their biostoves with the cultural and traditional needs of Guatemalan families in mind. For example, tortilla-making is easier on these biostoves and families can use wood as the primary source of fuel. They also still make it possible for families and friends to gather around the stove.
How Families Invest Personally for New BioStoves
Often aid agencies have very good intentions but instead establish a co-dependent relationship with those they are trying to help. Our goal at New Vision is to help families because more self-sufficient and not co-dependent and for that reason, we do have a requirement that families invest into the installation of their stove. They do that in a two-step process.
First, families must engage in community service to get on the waiting list for the stove. Second, they are to help in the work required to install the stove. In this way, New Vision guarantees that the families that get the stoves are those that actually want them and will use them.
We Need Your Help
As we mentioned, we have only installed 400 BioStoves but have at least 2000 more to go. We would love to see the rest of the families on the waiting list get a stove and be on their way to better health. If you would like to financially be part of that process, please donate below to our Guatemalan missions.