A few years ago I wrote an article while I was in Africa about how the rural Africans live compared to our standard of living.
This time, I find myself in Guatemala with a team of volunteers from Kelowna who have joined my wife and I, and charity partners Fe Viva at their base in Chicqimulilla, Guatemala. Their base is a well established children’s home where they offer hope and care for many Guatemalan children who would otherwise be abused or homeless. It is an amazing place to come and assist.
The main reason we are here is to install clean burning wood stoves in the homes of poor families, around the region. The infant mortality rate in Guatemala is very high because of bronchial infection. I think it may even be the highest in the world. Coupled with the fact that the Guatemalan’s are burning far too much wood and also have horrendous problems with burn injuries from their crude three stone stoves, charity partners, Fe Viva, founded by Kim and Lynn Weiler from Westbank recognized a need and started to raise money for more modern technology stoves.
Local real estate company, Realty Executives held some fund raising events and together with other supporters and donors, have raised enough money to keep us more than busy on this trip by installing stoves. Each participant on the trip has also raised additional funds to help buy stoves.
The new stoves are much safer, more efficient and do not pollute the immediate air around the cooks!
Of course while we are doing this, I have a chance to glimpse at a fairly typical Guatemalan house. It is not unlike an African home, tin, wood and various fabrics to keep out the elements. Unlike Africa, our Guatemalan cousins have power and running water if they are fortunate enough. However, like Africa, this is some of the most expensive real estate in the world.
The reason is simple. In North America, we look at values, per finished square foot, and like Africa, while the homes are small, there is not one single square foot of finished floor area. Wall’s are mostly bare concrete block, roofs are a sheet of tin and the floor is earth, complete with cockroaches, scorpions and snakes...
It is so humbling to make these comparisons from time to time and realise how totally and utterly blessed we are. It is not possible to be as poor in Kelowna when you compare what we have and look at how these Guatemalan families live.
A big thanks to everyone who has helped by donating and to the team who came with us to help and also run the Cabrakan 100km ultra-marathon to raise funds. While our team had their heads down, running the 100km race, another team in the Kelowna area replicated the effort with an ultra-marathon run in Peachland, big thanks to the Bliss Bakery for helping them.
We still have a long way to go to solve the problem so please consider donating at www.Rally4Life.org.