Typical kitchen in San Antonio Chacaya
Meet Jesus Santizo Xeche De Sosof
On the 25th of August, we installed a cookstove in San Antonio Chacaya -- one of the poorest villages in Santiago Atitlan. Jesus lives with her sick mother in a tiny room -- not larger than 4x3 meters. The main room is made from cement bricks while the kitchen is half outside with a dirt floor and walls made from corrugated sheet metal. Every day, Jesus cooks the meals on the ground (see typical kitchen setup).
Since her economic situation does not allow her to buy dry firewood, Jesus depends on the wood that her brother Francisco transports down from the mountain every day. During the rainy season, the wood is so wet that it burns at low temperature and is therefore energy inefficient. Moreover, burning wet wood creates a lot of smoke and steam (see video of Jesus’s kitchen).
Using wet wood in an open fire situation is also unhealthy because it releases pollutants into the air (e.g., nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide) and particles (e.g., particulate matter and black carbon). If that weren't enough of a health hazard, burning wet wood releases huge amounts of creosote -- carcinogenic deposits that cause skin and eye irritations, minor chemical burns, and, if inhaled, respiratory infections and even cancer through prolonged exposure (see wall full of creosote).
We feel for people like Jesus. The installation of this energy-efficient cookstove was realized through your donations. Our outreach team -- Jose and Maria -- were very pleased to be able to install the stove for Jesus and her mother (see installation). Because we accompany all installations with our education program, Maria could explain the health risks associated with burning wet wood (see image of environmental talk). Jesus and her brother, who was passing by to bring more firewood, did not know about these health risks, but could directly link their mother's illness to the way they had been cooking for many, many years. To reduce the health risks from using wet wood, Maria suggested creating space in the covered area to dry the wood for as long as possible before burning it in the stove.
Thanks to the new energy-efficient stove, Jesus will need to use much less firewood when preparing food for her family. For Jesus, this is an enormous relief -- timewise and financially. The new stove is restoring her dignity while making important health improvements for her entire family.
Please accept our thanks.Your donations are helping families like this. And by spreading the word, you can continue to support us.
We wish you a wonderful day,
Jessica and the Tui’k Ruch’Lew team
Walls are covered in creosote
Installation of the ONIL stove in Jesus' kitchen
Environmental talk between Maria and Jesus