Monday, May 19, 2008

Projects and Pacaya

This week we have been getting the projects up and running. We have projects in the following areas so far:
· Adobe stoves: These are simple wood stoves that we make with clay. The stoves keep the heat enclosed so they use half the wood needed for an open stove. After teaching communities to build these stoves we come back and give a chimney to everyone who has built a stove. Many of the communities go from house to house helping each other build a stove. The chimney allows the smoke to escape, preventing smoke inhalation This is a pic of us and our first adobe stove that we built so everyone would know how to do it.

· Square foot gardens: The idea behind square foot gardens is to improve family nutrition by growing a variety of vegetables. Square foot gardens take up less water and land than traditional row gardening.
· ESL: We are helping teach in 2 schools right now and we will soon be starting evening English classes at church. Here is one of the schools we work at.

· Health: We have public health/nutrition/first aid classes that we teach in the communities. We also have a couple of pre-med/nursing students who volunteer at a hospital in the recovery center.
· Orphanages: We are currently only working in one orphanage right now. This orphanage’s mission is to prepare the families to take back their kids. (Most “orphans” have at least one parent alive and many have both parents) This orphanages works with the courts and parents so the kids can go home.
· Manual Labor: We have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity working on homes. We’ve learned to bind rebar together and mix cement – hard work. Soon we will be painting 8 classrooms at a school. Right now the walls are bare cement blocks.
· Business classes: We also teach business classes. This is an exciting area because many women’s groups get micro-credit loans and have a little business that they run out of their home. So we teach them basic business skills so they can improve their business.

The highlight of the week was probably hiking Volcano Pacaya. We got up at 3:30AM and drove to the sight so we could see the sun rise. The volcano was covered in mist and clouds as we started to climb. Walking over the lava fields you could feel the heat coming out of crevasses.

At the very top of the cone we could look in and mostly see sulfuric mist but we did get a glimpse of some glowing lava. It was a little scary because the volcano would rumble and burp.