From the Field: Smokeless kitchens making a difference in the Andes

By Christine Torrison Mackay

Margarita and her old kitchen in Usabamba

Margarita and her old kitchen in Umasbamba

Two years ago when I was high in the Andes at over 13,000 feet in the small village of Umasbamba Peru,  I was inspired by a young man who had learned from an NGO how to make very efficient, smokeless kitchens which heated the home an extra 20 degrees and provided warm water as well. I remember sitting in my room that night thinking how valuable such a system would be in these small impoverished Andean communities which have no running water, no heat- despite winter temperatures dropping well below freezing, and no way to release the smoke that builds up in the houses when the cooking fire is going. And so I made a commitment then and there to help this young man build a new kitchen in each and every house in Umasbamba. And now its 2 years later, and I have just returned from Peru and have seen the new kitchens we have been building in person with the support of Paulino our onsite partner.

I stood in the small adobe homes of several people who were the very proud and grateful recipients of new kitchens. Margarita was one of these recipients (shown here). She and her husband live alone in their small home and are very poor. When I went to visit her and see her new kitchen, she stood shyly with her hand outstretched to shake mine, and thank me for her new kitchen. It brings me such great joy and satisfaction to know we can make a difference in the lives of people so far away. For only $220 we can build a new kitchen which will improve the health and hygiene of the people immensely by getting rid of the smoke which creates huge stalactites of soot hanging from the ceiling and by providing warm water. We have built 11 new kitchens and with 40 families in the village we have another 29 to go. We should be able to finish another 5 this summer. And all of this has been made possible by donations from people like you who have gone to Peru, seen the need and reached into their own pocket book in financially hard times to help someone else. Whether you have been to Peru or are just a good hearted supporter-thanks for supporting this work. I know the humble yet proud community members of Umasbamba are eternally grateful for your generosity.

Margarita's new kitchen!

Margarita's new kitchen!

We currently have just over $1000 of donated money set aside to build new kitchens. If you are able to help us continue the work, please send your check into: P.O Box 94034 Seattle WA 98124 or make a donation online.  Be sure to note it’s for the Peru Kitchen Project and we will send a tax deductible receipt.

Crooked Trails and the people of Umasbamba thank you.

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