Yesterday, my boss and the President of the charity here, announced his decision to retire. He’ll be around to help smooth the transition, but has relinquished control with immediate effect. This means that I have suddenly got very, very busy and helping sort of the future of the work here has to take precedence over the stove project. I’ll still try and get out occasionally to a finish a few off, but I won’t be able to do them all myself before I leave as well.

Three times this week Francesca and I have been out to build stoves and so I thought I’d share some of the snaps

Francesca came out with me yesterday. We left bright and early to go to Aco for the famous lamb soup and to pick up the remaining batch of combustion chambers. Then, in the afternoon she had her first taste of stove building, which was great since my other volunteers didn’t turn up again. However, last night, she spent all of it being sick and unable to shut her eye. Thankfully the doctor doesn’t think that she has an allergy to stove building, but has picked up a stomach infection (from eating poorly reheated food we think) and conjunctivitis. She’s feeling grotty and will be out of action for a few days and has come to stay with us for a bit of R&R.

Meanwhile, my day hasn’t been that great either. Firstly, my transport turned up half an hour late to pick me and building materials up, which meant that the volunteer I’d arranged for the morning probably decided we weren’t coming and went home (I’m being generous; the track record suggests that they probably didn’t even arrive) and then when we finally made it to the house to build the stove we found that the family had gone out and it was deserted. Still, their loss….

Had to work by myself today as my volunteers didn’t turn up and Francesca was too tired after travelling, so it was a late one, but I did manage to get the base done and return in time to do my teaching at the Training Centre.

Hot-footed it down to Lima yesterday in order to pick up Francesca, a volunteer who has come over for 5 weeks to help with the smokeless stoves, but also do some community-based drama workshops with children over their winter break. No problems at the airport and we spent the night and the next morning staying with friends in Surco, but thankfully we have now returned to Huancayo – Lima doesn’t get any better with the passing of time.

Returned to the family to finish off their stove today, but cementing on the metal griddle where the cooking will take place and then smothering it all in clay (which helps maintain the heat). I think it looks quite good, even if I do say so myself!

So, I learnt one thing today – building the actual body of the stove takes a lot longer than I had anticipated. I’m going to have to reschedule all the stove-building so that I have a full day to be able to complete it. This first stove is still not finished (we needed to pause since it was mid-afternoon and we hadn’t had any lunch yet and because the family needed to gather together more ash, which we are using as an insulating material), but it is at least recognisable now.

Two more stove bases built today, as shown in the photos. One of the families currently cooks under some very low corrugated iron propped up on some makeshift brick walls. It hasn’t been that temporary arrangement for the family though, as evident by the black smudges on the walls…

So, the stove project finally got on the road today and, despite some difficulties (my expert builder not turning up to show me how to do it for the first one and one of my volunteers not turning up either), we have managed to build the foundation of the stove for one family. The base for the afternoon family is unfortunately only 60% done and that we had to do in record time before the light faded since the space marked out by the family for the stove was basically in the middle of a room filled with junk and we spent 1.5 hours clearing it out and levelling the floor before we could start. Tomorrow I’ll remember to take the camera…

So, the stoves project has started like a bonfire made up of wet leaves. We got as far as the place where I’m storing materials before a phone call revealed that today’s family had had a change of heart and decided that they didn’t want a wood stove (which is fair enough, since it transpires they usually cook on gas). Just glad that we hadn’t started shifting all the bricks and sand into the car…

© 2017 Paul and Rach Elliston Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha