While our second day in Guatemala was enlightening as we learned about its history and economic conditions, our third day was active, exhilarating, and inspiring. We experienced first-hand the beauty of the Guatemalan highlands by traveling to various microloan groups to receive updates on their projects and form bonds.
Traveling to the groups was interesting! We encountered a variety of roads during our journey, ranging from smoothly paved with occasional speedbumps to the single-lane, potholed roads, to dirt roads with five miles per hour speed limits, and finally through a rock-strewn cart path that required a two miles mile walk to complete our journey.
Upon arriving, we saw the multi-faceted projects that have been supported by many members and congregations in the New Castle Presbytery. We visited the homes of over-the-top, hospitable Guatemalan women who shared their two- and three-room homes to proudly show us their new fuel-efficient stoves, which require only three sticks of kindling wood rather than a full armful of wood. Due to their economic, environmental, and health benefits, these stoves are in high demand with women in the Association. In December of 2019, nearly 200 women had submitted their funds for a stove and needed a donor to support the remainder of the stove for $140. We are all grateful for your continued support and generosity.
Many of the homes also contained water filters, a project supported by New Castle Presbytery, who reached its 500th filter funded in 2017. These water filters are easy to use and maintain and save the Guatemalan women time and prevent many water-borne illnesses.
Outside many of these homes stood another greatly appreciated domestic upgrade—new latrines that now provide increased privacy, security, and improved sanitation. The latrines are odor-free, fly free, and healthy. We even saw the latest 2019 model whose exterior was now turquoise rather than bright white.
This weekend, we will get to visit our partner, AJPU, who manufactures and installs all stoves, latrines, and water filters for the Association. All products are made and sourced in Guatemala by Guatemalans. Stay tuned to our blog for more updates.