We met three amazing dedicated people, Vicente, Alfredo, and Geovanny, who are leaders of AJPU. AJPU is dedicated to supporting local businesses and preserving the environment. They are integral in the manufacturing stoves, latrines and water filters for the Association. AJPU means goodness and leadership in K’iche, the local language. This visit was important to understand the projects and how important they are to receiving families.
The day before we visited the AJPU workshop, we spent time with the Reina women. I could see joy and excitement in their faces when they heard they were going to get the stoves they had been waiting for so long! For more than three years, 160 Association families have been waiting for the new stoves. Alfredo said that not only were the women happy but that with the planned stove order, the six families of the men constructing the stoves and five local businesses that provided materials would all benefit. It was fascinating as all three men demonstrated the process of constructing the stoves.
They have made several modifications that made the stoves lighter to transport and safer. I had the opportunity to show them how to use some additional equipment we brought, that is unavailable in Guatemala to further enhance safety in their operations.
As AJPU has continued to improve the design of the stove, the cost has increased slightly, cutting into their final profit margin. We are evaluating the current price in the signed contract and will make appropriate adjustments soon. Alfredo, Vicente, and Geovanny are committed to constructing the stoves because they benefit many families and use less wood which preserves the families’ health and local forests.
They also showed us how a water filter is prepared they have built. They have installed over 1,000 water filters—a large portion to Association members!
We were also excited to learn about a new product. Vicente built several models of a metal silo in various sizes. Families can store beans and grains in these instead of bags, protecting them from animals and weather. Carlos, the agroecologist, said the new product is needed given that climate change is affecting crops.
I was especially happy to meet my prayer partner Geovanny. We both work with our hands. We both know the stress that comes with seasonal variations in the work and supporting our families. So I will be praying for steady and continued work for the men of AJPU and their families.
Not only are the men hard workers, but they also care about preserving the local forest. They guided us on a “hike” that was more of a steep climb up to 8,200 feet above sea-level in the biodiversity park in the Totonicapan department.
He remembered climbing the mountain to gather wood with his mother. He also showed us trees his grandfather had planted for the future. He explained that two people take turns daily sweeping the main trail since it leads to two significant Mayan prayer caves.
Alfredo, Vicente, and Geovanny have been doing so much to help others in Guatemala. I realized that there is so much more that we can be doing to help these amazing men of AJPU.