57% of our population lives in extreme poverty. The only available way to cook and warm their homes is with firewood. Due to this their kitchens get full of smoke and is the cause of severe cases of pneumonia in children and chronic lung diseases in adults. The smoke in homes is the cause of 5,000 infant deaths per year.
Santo Domingo Xenacoj has a population of 8,300 people. 800 of them live in the small village of El Rosario. Each child growing in this village walks an average of 3 kilometers a day to be able to attend their school and our Early Childhood Program at Escuela Rural Mixta El Rosario –reason we have learned about this problem in detail.
El Rosario school was inaugurated in 2003 with 23 students, 2 classrooms, 3 teachers and one improvised kitchen made of metal-tin roof, cement blocks, and the good will of the fathers of each family. The meals to be cooked daily are the proud work of the community. Children bring once a week 4 logs of firewood to prepare the food at school for a week, mothers are the creators of the weekly menu, fathers contribute with the weekly cleaning, and teachers distribute the scarce resources that they are able to gather.
More than 8 years ago a donation was received so that with the help of the parents, a kitchen would be build with a good foundation, cement walls, and a roof that would not leak rain through it. Unfortunately, important things like natural light, ventilation, hygiene, and care for health were not considered in their plan. For this reason, smoke is in the kitchen every single day. Without proper air flow, irritated eyes, dry coughing, and headaches are part of the daily routine of mothers that cook the meal of the day for the children.
The school now has 77 children and mothers take turns to cook for approximately 3 hours each day to feed the school children. This kitchen is toxic, the roof is not sealed properly, and rain comes in. Also, mice can squeeze in and visit early in the morning, the shelves are deteriorating, and their washing station “pila” makes miracles to wash 5 big pots, 77 plates, and 77 cups each day. 54% of the mothers suffer from pulmonary diseases and 38% has conjunctivitis or pink eye. School absences are regular due to 74% of the students having respiratory issues.
What is needed for a change? Replace the open fire with an improved safe kitchen and build a working chimney that lets smoke out. With an optimized stove to cook firewood will last longer and will free all mothers and children from any risks associated with the smoke and open fire.
It is more than a simple remodeling of the kitchen, it goes beyond: improved quality of life, hygiene, public health, women empowerment, education, and environmental consciousness. With this remodeling, children and mothers will have a better environment; full of happy stories, adequate nutrition, clean air, and the smoke would not be part anymore of their daily routines.
Idea Global is a group of Guatemalans that since 2014 serves in 15 communities with 201 children and 163 mothers promoting a program in early stimulation, nutrition, and emotional well-being. With the hard work and commitment we have been working in eliminating anemia, malnutrition, and improving cognitive development in 94% of our communities. In this way, we are moving towards an optimal growth and development of the children of Guatemala. Together we can help a special school like El Rosario turn around the future of their community.
For every “click” you make, for every “share” you do, for every donation you give, you are contributing to the remodeling of the kitchen of their dreams – a space free of smoke and filled with hope. With every little bit raised we will be able to provide an ecological stove, a refrigerator, proper shelving, pots, kitchen utensils, plates, cups, and a clean table for them to eat with a view of their beautiful community.
Peter Meng Sapper
Back to menú