In the beginning of our EcoStove Project, folks on those early missions talked about the design, construction, and operation of the stoves. So, I gave a talk one day about us “building stoves in Honduras.”
Afterward, Dennis Sanders, one of our EcoStove pioneers, pulled me aside and said, “You know, we don’t actually build the stoves. We fund and oversee them, but we don’t actually build anything.”
Instead of us bringing the components and building the stoves, we leave that to the skilled craftsmen in Choluteca. This provides labor and income for the workers, giving a much-needed boost to their local economy. It also creates a sense of ownership and pride within the community as the stoves benefit the recipients along with many of their neighbors.
The plancheas, the metal cooking surfaces, are made by local laborers. Shown above are John O’Donnell, Tim McMicken, and Bill Drake (background) helping unload new plancheas which will be used to build new stoves.
On our 2014 mission, we visited the homes where the craftsmen were making the bricks and chimneys. The adobe brick maker, Senor Orlando Mendoza, was more than happy to show us how he made the bricks, starting with a base mixture of horse and cow manure mixed with straw and water. After they dry in the sun, he bakes them in a kiln 5 hours a day for 2 days, and then lets them cool and harden for 3 days.
Later, we visited the chimney maker, Senor Rigoberto Calderon, who made a chimney while we watched. Methodically working on his small porch, he marked a sheet of tin using a wooden guide, and then carefully cut it with hand-held tin snips. Using an iron pipe, he shaped it into a cylinder and then secured the seam with a tin punch. His home had electricity and a nice kitchen with a tile-decorated EcoStove of his own. He said, “I love the EcoStoves. I don’t have to carry so much wood, which gives me time to do my trade. And they help me support my family.”
Actually, we are quite happy that we don’t build anything.