GuateMalta Foundation’s latest project is to raise enough funds to introduce clean-burning wood stoves to the poor households within the communities of Izabal, Guatemala, where Fr. Anton Grech is based.
What most of us take for granted all our life- a stove – is an ultimate luxury in many Guatemalan households. In the poor rural areas of Guatemala women cook around open fires in small huts where the family typically lives. Toxic fumes are produced whilst cooking and the family often ends up inhaling this poisoned air trapped within. The smoke causes chronic breathing problems, as well as other conditions such as pneumonia and lung cancer.
Another health hazard encountered is the risk of burns from the open fires. Many children end up getting burnt due to the close proximity to the cooking area. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.6 million people die every year of ill-health effects resulting from the inhalation of toxic indoor air. Guatemala unfortunately has a high incidence of people suffering the consequences of such a practice. The most vulnerable are of course women and children who spend many hours every day around the traditional cooking stoves. Many children do not go to school as they have to collect a handful of wood for cooking. This work also causes health problems in many boys.
The dependence on polluting cook stoves also leads to a wide variety of environmental problems. This type of stove (the Onil Stove) reduces 75% of the amount of wood used for cooking, thus helping the environment as less wood is used. Consequently, the burden on children to collect wood would be reduced drastically.
We want to give new opportunities to poor families; to improve the lives of women and children, their health, and also the environment. A pilot project for clean stoves is the way forward, and this is where you can help us.
The idea was generated thanks to Alex Scicluna of Jubilee group and designer Ruben Formosa from The workshop. They did the research on the various materials and how to manufacture the Onil clean stove, which is the most practical stove which can be handled here in Guatemala’s households.
The first funds were collected by Michael Grima, a seminarian who spent a year working in our area of Izabal. More funds were then collected by other volunteers such as Mark Chucks, Ino Mario Borg, Jubilee staff and friends from Malta.
We then received in 2015 the donation of 6,000 euros from the Overseas Development Aid from Malta to produce a good quantity of clean stoves.
At the moment we have already managed to manufacture 190 clean stoves. Every stove bears the name of the donor. We have started manufacturing these stoves and are selling them at a low subsidized price, thus helping the poorest.
The fact that demonstrations are being done in many areas of our parish will help to promote the stove and raise awareness of the way of cooking. It’s not an easy job to change culture and methods, but this project will have a great impact on many families and its accessible price will help in making it a success.
A clean stove costs around 85 euros.
If you would like to donate money towards the Clean Stove Project you can do this through the GuateMalta Foundation. Contact us.