Wow, what a week of working on the stoves in Saqib and getting to know the people in the village. Our team successfully built 40 stoves in 3 days. I had heard about the problems the old open-fire stoves were causing in the homes and I had read reports on how Medical Teams International is working to improve health by building new stoves; but I had no idea what a problem this was until I saw it firsthand.
As much as I enjoyed visiting these people’s homes, it was difficult to be in the house for more than a few minutes at a time. The smoke made it hard to simply breathe. My eyes would start to burn and I would start coughing. These Guatemalans were using the open-fire stoves to fill a basic need of eating. But in exchange, they were compromising the basic need of breathing clean air. No one should have to live that way. We all deserve a good meal and fresh air under the shelter of our own roofs. I realized that this is a problem that can’t be ignored. What a blessing to be able to offer our friends in Saqib a healthy way to live their everyday life.
Many of the women who received a new stove were pregnant. The babies that will soon be born into these homes will breath fresh air every day. Their mothers will be able to spend more time with them because they will be spending less time collecting loads of firewood.
Today, we celebrated with the people of Saqiib. They could not have been more grateful for this project and we could not have been more humbled and glad to have been able to provide it. The collaboration of this village in Guatemala and this group from the United States could not have been better. We simply helped provide the supplies and simple training; the villagers encouraged one another to take good care of their stoves and to continue using them in order to promote good health. During the closing ceremony, an older woman stood and spoke on behalf of the Women’s Committee, giving her personal testimony of how she has been using her stove and how well it is working. Another of the community leaders stood and wished us a safe travel home. He also said to his community, “We can pray for our friends, too, because we hear on the new on the radio that many other countries have problems too and if we all pray together then we can make a better life for them as well as us. While they are aware of their own needs, they are also aware of the needs of all people around the world. It is apparent that this leads them to be grateful for the little they have and to highly value community and support of one another.
These people are simply beautiful. They have impacted my life and I am forever grateful to have met them and shared a short time in our lives together. They have given me a renewed perspective on the meaningful things in life. And for that I say thank you: “Bante osh.”