GSP has built over 3800 Cookstoves
2006 was the seventh year since the Guatemala Stove Project began building masonry cook stoves for impoverished families in Guatemala. The first year only one volunteer, Tom Clarke, taught by master Maya mason Don Juan Puac, built six stoves in two weeks in the tiny remote village of San Jose de Mas Alla.
In 2000, five volunteers along with Maya masons Don Juan and Francisco Raxuleu built 25 stoves in the challenging conditions of the relocated village of Ixtahuacan. It was also during that year Pat Manley, President of the Masonry Heater Association, and Ali Ross, key interpreter, joined the team and started serious fund-raising in Maine, Kingston and Perth Ontario. Pat founded Masons on a Mission, while Ali and Tom started the process of becoming incorporated and applying for Canadian Charitable status for the Guatemala Stove Project (GSP).
The American Masons on a Mission and the Canadian Guatemala Stove Project work as partners pooling funds and other resources to build stoves. By this time the three of us were devoting considerable time to fund-raising and organizing. Since the beginning we have relied on our Maya partner in Xela, CEDEC, and its director Jose Yac.
While the volunteers and local masons built 40 stoves during February, the four local masons continued working for the next three months building another 140 for a total of 185 stoves in 2001. Many of the same volunteers came back in 2002 to build stoves in Xe Pop Abaj. While the volunteers built 30 stoves that February, our local crew built another 450 during 2002.
We also funded 20 similar stoves with another local organization, CEDEPEM, and 37 more fuel efficient pre cast stoves with HELPS International and a Maya women's group called Ixchel. Since we have built another 213 with HELPS and Ixchel. We built our thousandth stove in the spring of 2003. In February 2004 we returned again with two Canadian doctors and one American doctor. Our goal was to build our two thousandth in the spring of 2005. Exceeding all expectations, we have now built over 3800 stoves.
Just think for every 1000 stoves, each morning a thousand families firing up their stoves, a thousand women not risking blindness; each day while cooking for their families; six thousand not filling their lungs with toxic smoke every day. Perhaps ninety thousand years of life expectancy (when you multiply 10 to 15 years per person). With all these people using only half the amount of fuel as they did with an open fire, the stoves are also saving hundreds of trees from being cut down.
Nearly all of these funds have been a direct gift from North American families to Maya families. Now that we have Canadian charitable status we are also searching for corporate support and working with Rotary International who are funding 160 stoves this year. Anyone who wants to help has a gift to give. A lawyer helped us obtain charitable status, a videographer created the video, a web site designer has built and maintains this site for us, doctors come with us to Guatemala to treat people, musicians have held fund-raising concerts, artists donated gifts for us to raffle. For some of us funds, and for others, time spent fund-raising and spreading public awareness of the contribution of masonry stoves to needy Guatemalan families. Muchas Gracias. Our good friends, many thanks.