Saturday Dec. 1
We arrived yesterday Friday Nov. 30 in San Lucas. We are staying at a small hotel owned by the Mica family,Felipe and his wife Marbilla. It is very simple and primitive to what we are accustomed to but very hospitable. The dinner they served was stupbendo they are truly a gracious couple. Feilipe is the only one of the two who speaks English. He has had throat cancer and speaks through a tracheotomy. It is a standing joke among them that I introduced my self as Migualito which is “Little Mickey” because this is a very macho culture.
This afternoon we visited San Gargordio the community where we will be building our stoves. We were welcomed by a large contingent of women. Most of the men are off harvesting coffee to make a little income. The project, however, is spearheaded by the women and the very concept is empowering to these women. Its fascinating the way things are working. After an introduction we visited each of the houses that are to receive the first of the ovens. The living quarters are quite modest – concrete block structure, while the kitchens are detached and formed out of corrugated metal. The insides are black, coated with creasode from the smoke. An article in this months Smithsonian explains that most of the undeveloped world cooks over these open fires and that an hour under these conditions is the equivalent of smoking 40 cigarettes. This as you can see is a significant problem for these beautiful people and their children.
Afterward we were given a detailed description on how these stoves work. They were designed by a NASA Engineer and are truly a remarkable improvement in the existing technology these people have been using for centuries. They are far more fuel efficient preventing the destruction of forest and provide a smoke free environment. It's a wonder to behold and to which be a part.
The third aspect of this endeavor the empowerment of these women, the fabrication (of which we are a small part) is the education. These women undergo an extensive program so that they can utilize and take advantage of these stoves. Its an ongoing program and as long as they utilize the stoves properly and do not modify the design (e.g. Enlarging the opening to burn larger pieces of wood.) The stoves burn only twigs and small branches. They will be entitled to future help and repairs as necessary to the stoves.
We road back to San Lucas in the open air pickup truck. Each of us truly moved and encouraged by what we had learned not only from Candace, our director, but from these newly empowered women.