Monday, February 18, 2013

Stove Project: Part Three

Stove building!
If you will remember where we left off last time. I could not find a mason in my community that wanted work. One Alex's masons took other work and the other mason did not feel it was worth his time to travel down to my site everyday to work. Cue massive freak out. I called TWP and explained the situation. I told them how our main mason flaked out and the other mason did not want to work down here. They were calm and helped me work through some options I had. They did not want to come back up and train another mason. They said I could find someone myself and have Alex's other mason train the new guy, or their mason could come up and work for me for a couple of weeks. The second option did not sound ideal because I would have to house this guy for weeks on end, feed him meals, pay his transport and pay him to build the stoves. It would end up costing me much more than I had planned.

She is happy about her stove, I swear.
I reached out to my community once more. This time though I came back with more success. I found Don Martin. Melida and I went over to his house and basically begged him to take on this project. He agreed and the next morning we set off for Alex's site so his mason could train mine. Masons training masons, that's what we call sustainable people.

To shorten the longest story ever, I will cut through the suspense. Don Martin got trained and he has built 22 (!) stoves. This is where we are at right now. I don't mean to say that it has been smooth sailing, because it has not. But we were trucking along at a pretty smooth pace for about a month there.After the first 10 stoves we ran out of materials. I am not exactly sure what I was thinking when I only ordered the materials for 10 stoves, but I am sure I was probably thinking I did not want to dig myself into too big of a hole if this project was going to fail. So I had to go through the whole ordeal of ordering the materials for 20 more stoves. Thank goodness it was much easier the second time around.

This is what materials for 20 stoves looks like
I did have a freak out about eight stoves in because I felt overwhelmed with all of the small details that seemed to be going wrong. Like I said most of the stove materials are donated or paid for with grant funds. But the families have their part to contribute or the stoves could not be made. They are responsible for coming up with one bucket of sifted colored dirt, three buckets of sifted ash, they must sift the sand they pick up at my house, they must provide a helper for the mason the day the stove is being made and lastly they must pay $20. (The $20 is important for many reasons. First off it gives them a sense of ownership over the stove, making them want to take better care of it. Secondly not all of stove materials are covered in the grant or are donated, this helps cover some of the extra costs. It also pays the mason who is building the stoves.)

 It is shocking how hard it can be for some people to get their act together. For example one of the family contributions is three buckets of sifted ash. Ok I get that three buckets is a hell of a lot of ash. But these families have known this was their responsibility for months. Literally everyone in my community has ash. Everyone. Just go ask your neighbor to save some ash for you. Melida found two buckets of ash the morning her stove was made. (This is not recommended, she thought only one bucket was needed and had a minor freak out when I told her she needed two more.) It is easy, you just have to have a little forethought.

Any who when the families are not prepared Don Martin gets frustrated because he cannot build that stove and he looses work. Often this could be remedied if he would just pick up the phone and call me, because I often have a second family who is ready. But often he just sulks and does not call me. (I also have a sneaking suspicion that he may be illiterate, so maybe he just can't find my name in he phone?) Then there is all of the behind my back gossip about how he is threatening to quit. But when ever I approach him he acts as though everything is fine and dandy. Whatever I would say, just as long as he sticks it out and does not quit before the project is over.

So here we are. I have about three weeks left in site, and eight stoves to go. Keep reading to learn about the latest plot twists.

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