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Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women

by Highland Support Project
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Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Opportunities & Hope for Guatemalan Maya Women
Alba, a recent stove recipient!
Alba, a recent stove recipient!

Thank you so much for your past and current commitment to Highland Support Project, you are critical to the work we accomplish for those that rely on us most; children, women and communities in the Highlands.

COVID-19, recent hurricanes, political unrest and loss of income due to trip cancellations call us to a more active fundraising campaign that allows us to continue the work you’ve dug your hands in and committed to through your prior experience with HSP.

Asociación de las Mujeres deAltiplano, or AMA, our Guatemalan sister organization, does more than build stoves. This program is transforming communities, changing lives, and improving health for generations to come.

If you’d like to learn more about our projects and where your funding goes, please reach out and I’d be happy to set up a time to talk!

Thank you again for your dedication and continued support of Highland Support Project!

In gratitutde,

Madison Sweitzer

Maria and her sons, another stove recipient!
Maria and her sons, another stove recipient!

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Hi all,

We hope this email finds you well! Our summer has been quieter than normal without the usual hustle & bustle of our trips to Guatemala, but we are keeping busy as we adapt our work to meet these new conditions.

We are so grateful for your continued support of this project. The hit of COVID-19 has created new difficulties for these communities, but we are up for the challenge and continuing to pursue unique solutions.

We were also disappointed that our usual summer trips were unable to occur this summer, but, again, we are so grateful for everyone that has continued to support us even without an in-person experience. Even without the trips, we are continuing to build stoves. These stoves are more important than ever, as they continue to fight chronic respiratory illnesses that could make families more vulnerable to COVID-19.

We are utilizing the community center to distribute both food and information for the women and their families. Supplementary food deliveries have been crucial, as public transportation has become limited and the curfew is strictly enforced. As we look for long-term solutions, we are continuing to develop our family garden program, which will provide families with a sustainable and nutritious food source. We are sharing information in Indigenous languages to ensure they are receiving accurate, clear, and reliable information in a timely fashion.

Earlier this week we reviewed a new report from the FILAC, the Foundation for the Development of Indigenous Peoples in Latin America and the Caribbean, about COVID-19 and Indigenous populations in Latin America. The report addressed many of the factors that make Indigenous populations at particular risk for COVID-19, including drastically higher rates of extreme poverty, but it also left us feeling inspired. The report noted that Indigenous communities are historically resilient, and noted that, "More than vulnerability, indigenous towns have demonstrated resilience in various ages of pandemics, and this will not be the last one."

We are adapting to the shifting needs of our communities and will continue to vigilantly do so while virtualizing as much as we can to stay in touch with our supporters. 

Thank you so much, we are so grateful!

Sincerely,

Highland Support Project

PS- We love using GlobalGiving as our donation platform, keep an eye out for a new campaign coming out next month!

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The stove design team solving a puzzle
The stove design team solving a puzzle

This last year, staff members Guadalupe Ramirez, Giovani Hernandes, and Miguel Rosario labored to innovate the model of indoor cookstoves built in the Highland regions. The objective was to lower carbon emission to qualify for European funding streams that require compliance with international standards. We are proud to announce that independent testing confirmed that our new design meets carbon reduction benchmarks.

The human-centered design process is indicative of HSP's methodology of putting community members' needs first in the design of interventions to address quality of life indicators. Any design process requires cataloging of requirements to obtain an ideal product that meets the circumstances of the user. A school bus and a sports car are both designed to meet a specific need. While a school bus may be fun to drive, a sports car would not function well to transport neighborhood kids to school.

It is the same within the stove design world. Frequently, there is a drive to design the most fuel-efficient stove possible. Over our 25 years of building stoves, we have seen very efficient stoves become very popular with funders, who are not actually using the stoves. One model that was built by numerous organizations and government agencies is lovingly called the crib, because it works very well as a crib for newborns but is neither safe or functional for a family.

A second push is for gas or electric stoves. In the context of the rural Indigenous communities where we work, we do not find these stoves to be appropriate because this represents another cash cost. These families have wood stands and can produce as well as barter for renewable fuel sources. Switching to gas or electric stoves represents a loss of resilience. While they are an ideal solution for urban populations, rural people would have to move somewhere to find a job that pays sufficient to be able to purchase the fuel. Furthermore, in terms of carbon reduction, we feel it is somewhat a wash when considering the energy cost of extraction and transportation of liquid fuel or the environmental impact of hydroelectric systems in mountain regions.

Another design requirement for the stoves built for the Highland population is the requirement to be able to heat homes during the evening. It is cold at 10,000 feet elevation. While a small rocket fuel stove or gas stove may hit outstanding metrics for fuel conservation and upper respiratory illness reduction, this saving would be offset by the requirement to burn biomass for home heating. Therefore, we believe that the best solution is a stove that also functions as a home heater.

A major aspect of our stove program is to empower women with more free time and energy to be engaged in their communities. A requirement for our stoves is that they provide a large workspace for women to prep food. Additionally, they have features that allow women to cook grains and beans from scratch. The problem with a single burner or rocket stoves is that they are not appropriate for large or extended families that are often cooking large quantities of beans and the simmering process for making corn masa that is the most common ingredient.

Safety is also a major concern with many small children in a household. Many stoves that are popular with funders have features that are exposed and we have witnessed many children severely burned from touching exposes metal. The masonry based stoves that we construct both lift the work off the floor as well as provide a barrier to toddlers from touching hot surfaces.

We are very appreciative of the many volunteers that have not only donated time and resources to the stove program over 25 years. We are thankful to the construction workers and engineers that have worked with our community partners and staff to empower them with the skills and tools to innovate, adapt, and take advantage of opportunities. We invite you to join us this year as we bring healing to more families.


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As many of you know we have built the same stove model since we started with this project but the last month we have been working hard to improve the clean-air stove model.

To meet these aims, we are working on the Kitchen Performance Test (KPT) which includes quantitative surveys of firewood consumption and qualitative surveys of stove performance and acceptability. This type of testing is the best way to understand the stove’s impact on firewood use and on general household characteristics and behaviors.

After tasting the stoves we have already built using the old model, we found we needed to make the firebox smaller because this will help to save firewood, that is why we visited the place who provide us the bricks. We resize them and we supervise the whole process, we also want to share with you that all the bricks are made of clay, an ecological material.

"My mom and I needed a stove because sometimes she wants to help me to cook but my mom is 91 years old and she is getting blind because of her age and she has burned her hands many times trying to help me. My name is Catarino and I'm very thankful to the donors who made this possible. - Catarino "

Two weeks ago we built the first 4 stoves using the new model, the resized bricks and makes us happy to know that women from Los Gómez are going to spend less firewood to cook with this improve!

"I never have used a circle loom knitting in my life and when I saw it I was so happy because we'll learn and we'll knit hats for our children. Thanks for bringing this type of activity to our communities. We like to learn new things that we can do at any time. This also motivates us to start our own business, we can sell hats to our neighbors or our family. -Esperanza "

A few months ago we started teaching women in La Cumbre to use the circle loom and during the last few weeks, we started teaching women from a different community knitting using a circle loom. The first time that we did this with them we receive more women than what we expected and we didn't have enough looms, but we were happy to see their enthusiasm for learning this technique. All the women at Espumpuja were fascinated because they haven't seen a circle loom before. In the end, all of them knitted a hat and they took it home! They wanted us to leave the looms in their community but unfortunately, we can't because we want to do this activity in other communities. We hope to be able to give them one loom per woman soon so they can start knitting often.

This has been a wonderful year and we are blessed to have had all your support and your continued donations this is why we are so glad to share with you that HSP has been awarded as a Top Rated great non-profit for all the positive reviews from our partners, volunteers, and donors.

Please consider telling your friends and family about our projects this giving season - share the link on your blogs or social networks, use the tell-a-friend feature on the project page to email your network!

Check out our pictures and meet the 4 families we support and some of the women who attended to the knitting class!

- Catarino and his Mom Maria

-Rosa

-Juana

-Justa 

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Dear Donors,

We are thankful with all of you that through your donations help us to improve women's lives in the different communities of the highlands.

We are also happy to tell you that in the last two months we built the first two washer stations that were necesary for all the women in Chiquix because as many of you know, most homes in the highlands do not have electricity or have water. Women take their families clothes to wash them on the ground with limited water or they wash it on a rock. Washing their clothes on a rock or on the ground isn't easy because the only position to be able to do this is on their knees and after wash it during 2-3 hours it is a physically taxing for them. After washing their clothes they leave it out on shrubs or on the ground to dry. The ground is often contaminated with animal feces which causes skin irritation and rashes when the clothes are worn. This is only the beggining because we want to keep building washer stations for all the women in the highlands!
We had the privilege to support the women building more than 50 clean-air stoves and also with the help of HSP volunteers 15 women assisted to a knitting class in La Cumbre community to learn how knit a hat. We were so happy to see that they are very interested in keep learining about knitting and we will do our best to provide them more yarn to keep knitting!

These are all valuable efforts that will help the women in accessing and taking advantage of opportunities. We cannot help but be grateful by your continued donations and support. We know we would not make these accomplishments a reality without all your help. We are excited for the rest of this year’s opportunities and we look forward to updating you again.

Love from all of us at HSP!

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Organization Information

Highland Support Project

Location: Richmond, VA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @HighlandPartnrs
Project Leader:
Diana Alvarado
Quetzaltenango, Quetzaltenango Guatemala
$31,978 raised of $90,000 goal
 
341 donations
$58,022 to go
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