Article: La Esmerelda Stove Project

Written by Cafe Campesino on Apr 1, 2005 in Article, NEWSLETTER |
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Rural Guatemalan women cook over dangerous and inefficient open fires. The rapid consumption of firewood contributes to the country’s alarming deforestation rate, threatening both the survival of local endangered species such as the scarlet macaw and the ability of future generations to subsist on the same land. In the short term, there is no easy way for smoke to escape from the kitchens, so Guatemalan women and their children suffer sight and respiratory problems due to the cumulative effect of many hours spent cooking each day.

La Esmeralda is a multi-ethnic community of ex-refugees from the Guatemalan Civil War who returned to their home country ten years ago from the camps in Mexico. While they were able to negotiate the terms of their collective return and now own the land they live on, the community is beset by many economic, health, and environmental problems, such as those linked to the traditional open fires.

The women of La Esmeralda are intimately familiar with these problems, and have organized themselves to bring an improved-stove project to their community, with the hopes of clearing smoke from their kitchens and burning less wood. They have been working with non-profit HELPS International, who has received international recognition for their stove design. Unfortunately, the women cannot afford to pay the full cost of bringing the stoves to the community themselves. If you would like to help with this project, please email adam.nordell@gmail.com. To learn more about HELPS and the stoves, visit www.helpsinternational.com/programs/stove.php

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