Jeff Green | Jan 26, 2006
Feature Article - January 26, 2006
Feature ArticleJanuary 26, 2006
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On February 4, nine Canadian volunteers will head down to Central America for the Guatemala Stove Project's (GSP) annual trip to build stoves for impoverished Maya families of the western highlands of Guatemala.From Perth, coordinators Tom Clarke (8th trip) and Ali Ross (6th trip) will be leading the group. Al Teflissi of Coutts & Co coffee shop will be making his fourth trip and David Zimmerly will be our photographer for the second year. St. John's High School teachers Jeff Peters and Amanda Brady will be making their first trip. We will be joined by Kathy Moutos of the Kingston Rotary Club, and Lori Lavendar, also from Kingston, as well as Dee Simpson from Toronto.
This will be the GSP's first time in the western highlands since the devastation wrought by Hurricane Stan last October. This was the worst natural disaster to hit this area since the earthquake in 1976. Fifty per cent of the country's roads and 30% of the stoves that the GSP has built since 1999 were washed away.
Beyond those killed directly by the mud slides, there is a looming hunger crisis as many others have lost their homes, crops, and, in some cases, fields. This will be a life changing experience for the volunteers. They will be witnessing the Maya struggling to survive after losing everything to a hurricane.
For the first four days the Canadian volunteers will be joining a group of American volunteers building stoves near Lake Atitlan. The Canadians will then travel further up the altiplano to build more stoves in a small village near Xela and visit reconstruction work the GSP is funding.
Most of the volunteers will be returning on February 18, though David Zimmerly and Tom Clarke will stay longer to document stoves and other relief and reconstruction work the project is carrying out.
Since 1999 the GSP has built over three thousand stoves, as well as funding relief and micro development projects. As the need is so great, the GSP is asking for whatever help our relatively well-off community can share with the Maya.