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Dates: November, 2011
A group of Spanish-speaking volunteers arrived two days early and were met by Tim Longwell, Reyna Guzmán, and Gracia Flores of Zamorano University. The group received extensive training on how to perform the Kitchen Performance Tests and laid the groundwork for the following week of testing. The community chosen for the KPTs was a bumpy hour-long journey from Copán Ruinas, just across the Guatemala border. It was chosen by factory owner Anibal Murcia based on its extreme need for stoves and the positive attitude and determination of its citizens despite their dire living conditions. Every day 34 volunteers formed eight teams and visited 57 different homes, carefully weighing the amount of wood used by each family, as every family in the village is currently cooking over open fires.
Our volunteer dentist, Dr. Jay Lamb, helped as well by giving dental care to those in need. Other volunteers applied fluoride varnish to the teeth of the village children. In the afternoons, everyone assisted the factory owner by building a fence around the Copán Ruinas factory. In addition, there was increased production of Ecocina stoves as everyone learned how to make stoves with instruction from the local factory workers.
At the end of the week, Ecocina stoves were delivered to all 57 homes in San Jose. The community came together in the center of town for cooking demonstrations, a piñata and a celebratory meal. It was a perfect culmination to a week of hard work. Our volunteers ranged in age from twelve to seventy-five and came from diverse backgrounds and differing communities. We worked together to improve the health of those who cook over open fires, and many commented that the experience changed their lives.
Students from the University of Oregon's Holden Leadership Center will return in March to carry out follow-up wood consumption tests. Thanks again to all the volunteers who participated in this trip and especially to Anibal, the factory staff, and those from Zamorano.