One of our mission objectives is to install a new, safe and environmentally-friendly ONIL stove in each of 60 homes in Xojolá, an impoverished village In the Boca Costa region. Almost all the homes there cook their meals over open pit fires in the house causing three main problems:
Almost 17% of all the patients seen at the clinic have respiratory problems as their chief complaint.
The clinic has treated many children that have serious burns from falling into the fire.
In thousands of families the daily job of a family member is to collect firewood, a problem for their backs, necks and shoulders, but also for the environment.
The new ONIL stoves offer tremendous benefits:
The stove vents smoke out of the roof through a smoke stack thereby removing smoke from the home.
It is raised up at waist level so little hands and bottoms aren’t able to fall into the fire.
And it only uses one-third the amount of firewood.
The town elders decide who receives one of the new stoves.
The children of Xojolá were not only loving and well behaved, but they were the most beautiful children I've ever seen. They loved having their pictures taken then looking at their picture on the camera screen.
BOCA COSTA MEDICAL MISSION
The Boca Costa area we're visiting is one of the poorest in Guatemala and has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates. Hunger, malnutrition and parasites are also huge problems. BCMM, a U.S. nonprofit founded in 2003, provides basic medical care and access to major medical care. Two base clinics with 11 local health promoters and two nurses are open only 10 days per month and treat 8,000-10,000 patients annually. Four to six medical teams from the U.S. perform 50 sponsored surgeries. Dr. Sergio Castillo from the Hospital Santa Fe de Cristo in Chocolá visits the Xojolá clinic monthly. He is a surgeon who specializes in OB/GYN and Tropical Medicine.
Clinic in Xojolá
Clinic in Chocolá
WAY OF LIFE
Our mission work centered around the villages of Chocolá and Xojolá in the rugged Western Highlands of Guatemala. Much of the farm work here is still done by hand. The road system is in disrepair and very difficult to traverse by car, or on foot. Many of the homes are not fully enclosed and have dirt floors. If a house has electricity, it is mainly to support a single light bulb hanging from a thin wire. At times we had to use the lights on our cell phone so we could see to install the new stoves. Materials in the school are sparse or lacking entirely. Some people don't have enough food, so the children loved the snacks we provided during Vacation Bible School. In spite of their life situations, the people are beautiful and hardworking. And so appreciative that we are here to help try to lend a hand.
I've joked about so many people walking around with machetes. If I saw someone where I live in the U.S. with a machete I would run and call the police. In Guatemala, I would walk after them and hope they would share some of the fruits they would cut down.
INTRICATE EMBROIDERY & BROCADE
It takes about four months to meticulously embroidered cloth and turn it into a blouse. Each Mayan village has its own distinctive colors and textile patterns - geometric designs, stripes, flowers, birds, and animals - making it possible to determine a person's hometown by what she's wearing. These are a few of the beautiful blouses we saw.
Adolfo Yurrita's Farm - at Maria's parents home
LOCAL MARKET IN MAZATENANGO
We're staying at the Bambu Resort in Mazatenango, one of the largest cities on the South Coast with a population of 110,000. Because of its lower elevation, it's hotter and more humid than Chocolá and Xojolá. This area is an important commercial and manufacturing center. Many of the products that tourists buy in the markets are made here. The city itself attracts tourists, especially to its eight-day carnival every February. We went to a colorful local market to buy fresh chicken and fruit for the elders we visited at a nearby home on our first full day here.