2020 was a remarkably difficult year for the people and the planet: The novel coronavirus pandemic forced people to contend with a new normal: lockdowns, mask rules, economic crises and travel bans. Families were separated. Many people fell ill or lost a loved one. And on top of that millions of people lost their jobs and thus their livelihood. And if that was not enough, countries held elections, protesters took to the streets, and wars broke out.
The aftermath of 2020 is still unknown and the future uncertain. For us, 2020 was a challenge as most of our work is community work. From the ONIL stove installation, the monitoring of the stoves, to our environmental education, everything is linked to human contact.
The human connection is hard to replace.
The small interpersonal gestures, like a simple handshake or a hug to greet someone, the fleeting and comforting touch during the conversation were all of a sudden a threat to our health. At the beginning of all this, we felt anxious about what the future would bring for us and our organisation. Last year we had to put down the core activities: installing and maintaining the stoves and bringing people happiness and joy. I remember the long discussion with the team on ZOOM, where we expressed our worries about the conditions of the stoves as we were not able to do the usual follow-ups.
At the same time, we received many requests for Onil stove installations as people noticed the advantage of having an energy-efficient stove that saves about 70% of the wood. This is a huge saving in money if people purchase the firewood or in time savings if they are collecting the firewood in the nearby forests.
As a team, we brainstormed ideas on how to help the Tz’utujil people keep up with their maintenance of the stoves to ensure the hassle-free and energy-efficient functionality of the stoves. Thus we started making maintenance videos for our clients, we tried to remotely check on the stoves by individual phone calls and much more.
2021 is a new beginning
At the beginning of the year, we decided to leave the baggage of 2020 in the past and look forward again. “With a new spirit into the new year,” was our motto. We developed safety protocols in consultation with medical professionals for different project activities. And we slowly started operation, while evaluating our precautionary measures again and again until everyone felt safe and secure in their job.
Since January 2021 TRL’s outreach team has installed 27 ONIL stoves and has checked on 62 ONIL stoves. How the faces of the team lit up after the first ONIL stove installation!
With new motivation and positive spirit, we are confident that we can install about 240 ONIL stoves this year in the Tzu’tujil communities.
Jessica and the Tui’k Ruch’ Lew team
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