Web link

www. WaterForHumans.Org

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Cook Stove Workshop Ended Yesterday

Well, we are back in Mexico City, after four days in the Mazateca to finish the cook stove workshop. We arrived in San Jose Tenango the evening of July 24 and started the continuation of the workshop on the 25th. During the two and a half week break in the workshop, detailed lesson plans were made so that we had specific goals for each remaining day of the workshop. Each day was to end with a concrete, mortar or insulation (perlite) pour so that it could harden overnight.

For the most part, we achieved our goals each day. The exception was the final two days. On Saturday, the 27th, we wanted to complete the chimney, but we did not. The final smooth mortar for the stove top was, however, completed and there was plenty of time to install the chimney on the final day. On the last day, we ran out of sand and, therefore, could not do the final mortaring of the interior gas path (takes about one hour). The good news, though, is that Leo Dan who did this on one of the pilot stoves, lives close by and knows exactly what to do.

All in all, the workshop went well. Eighteen promoters (attendees) participated, asked a lot of questions, learned a lot, tried a lot of processes/procedures and are ready to make more stoves to really learn the process well. We are returning to Seattle tomorrow night (Tuesday, 7/30) and plan to come back in September to work with the promoters as they build eighty-eight more stoves. Meanwhile, THP and the communities have an enormous task ahead of them: to finish purchasing all the parts, transporting them to the area, distributing them properly so that each community gets the number needed for its planned stoves and manually moving the parts from the closest road to each community (up to a three hour hike).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

On the bus to Haualta

We got the 8:45 bus to Haualta from the south bus station "TAPO". Axel's mom gave us a ride to the station. We drove around a few times as the main entrance was closed. The bummer of the day is we got seats with less leg room. Our knees will be bruised. The ride is a good 6+  hours. The bus stops now and then to pick a up food vendors.  For me bus & plane rides are a chance to do some fun reading. On this ride I am reading "Red' by Terry Tempest Williams. My head is deep in red rock country :)

After we leave Haualta, we will be off line as in Tenango there is only one Internet cafe, with limited hours. We have a satellite phone but it is$1.50 a minute to make a call.

Thus, wish us good luck with our stove building, and we hope to post an update when we have a good connection.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

One more night in Mexico City

We finally got the go ahead to go back to San Jose Tenango, but like most things in Mexico we will travel a day later than we thought.  We will take the bus from Mexico City to Haualata a 6+ hour trip. where Roberto will pick us up and take us to San Jose Tenango.

Our plan is to finish the one stove we started before the elections.  If all goes well we will start work - workshop on Thursday morning and we should complete the stove - workshop and light a fire in it, on Sunday afternoon.  But you never know how things will go until it is complete.

We are happy to get back to what we came to do, however the full scale (building the 88 stoves) program will not resume late September.

We will be offline (satellite phone only) until we leave San Jose Tenango and get to Haualta (cell coverage starts- ends there), on our way back to Mexico City (hopefully on Monday morning).

Wish us luck and successful building - cooking.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Metal parts for 89 cookstoves

Evevthough we are going back to San Jose Tenango to finish the first stove we started. We now have all the metal parts for 89 stoves.

Meeting with Enrique from IslaUrbana

We had another subway adventure this morning to meet Enrique and his business partner David. Enrique is an Ashoka fellow, for his work on rain water harvesting at IslaUrbana  We meet with Enrique to talk about a collaboration in the Mazatica, and the new Rotary project.

We met at the famous statue of the Coyotes.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Site visit to Tlahuac One of the poorest parts of Mexico City

Stan and I were up early again to meet Ulises, Lino Marquez (Centro Historico Rotary), and Ofelia A Hernandez from MexFam (like planned parenthood) to go to the community where they are working in collaboration with the Ballard and University (Seattle) Rotary Clubs. This part of the city is considered to be one of the poorest urban regions of Metro D.F.
This community is only about 12 miles from our hotel but seems like light years away in economic terms. MexFam has been working in the community for about 5 years now and a few years ago they realized they needed to take a more systems approach to improving the community.With the help of the the Ballard and University Rotary Clubs in Seattle and Rotary International, the Centro Historico Rotario is building a new community center (85 X 40 ft).

The community is very unique as there is a guard who controls access in and out of the community and there is NO drinking or drugs allowed.  Most of the houses are built in a connected row fashion. they are only about 6' high and only 15 x 15 ft in floor area!.  These houses are not "legal" in the sense that they do not have formal "rights" to the land.

However, with the newer housing (under construction) the owners have land rights.  There is no running water and all the water is delivered by water trucks into open top 55 gal plastic barrels. Each barrel is numbered with the family's house #.

We were invited specifically to look at the opportunities and challenges to provide rain water harvesting and dry latrine solutions.  In addition, they are interested in a community garden.

Like all opportunities this one presents its unique challenges and opportunities.  We look forward to collaborating with these Rotary Clubs to help provide innovative solutions.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Plateros Centor Historico Rotary Club of Mexico City

Stan and I are trying to make the best of our time here in D.F. (Mexico City), and like many situations changes in plans brings new opportunities.  One such opportunity we are taking advantage of is with Ferando Becerril (a colleague of Hector Chogoya Cortes - from my trip to Geneva in Jan). Ferando is a member of the "Plateros Centro Historico Rotary" here in D.F. Hector invited us to join him at their weekly breakfast meeting.   We were "distinguished visitors", and I gave a 20 slides in 5 minutes (like an Ignite pitch) about our work with the Hunger Project.  I did my first Ignite style presentation at the BGI alumni meeting a few months ago and it was a great test run for the pitch I gave today.  Meeting Ferando has already been very helpful. This Mexico City Rotary club is collaborating with the Ballard (Seattle) Rotary club to help build a community center in a challenged area of Mexico City.  Many of the members in attendance were excited to learn of our work and are very excited to have us join their efforts in collaboration with the Ballard club.

The meeting was held in the Club de Banqueros Mexico, which is downtown in the historic district.  We took the subway from our hotel and arrived much too early (we are gringos) so we stopped at a very upscale coffee place Puntos del Cielo, which has some very fancy and the most expensive espresso machines I have ever seen, to kill some time!  Yes ,the coffee was great :)

The meeting was very formal and started promptly at 8:30,  We were introduced as the "distinguished visitors" and we apologized for our casual dress as we were not planning on having these kinds of opportunities on this trip..  We were given about 10 minutes of the pre-programmed time to be introduced by Ferando and give my pitch promptly at 9:10.

I think the pitch went great with Stan advancing the slides every 15 seconds (as I could not figure out how to get PowerPoint to do it).  After the meeting Stan and I were invited to do a site visit to the community center site on Thursday for us to see and think about the possibilities.

Our next adventure with the subway began when we misread the transit map and took the wrong train.  We then were like "prairie dogs" at several stops.  Coming up to street level and realizing we were not where we wanted to be.  Thanks to Google maps we got our bearings and after several stops and transfers we got the correct train, only to find that it was not running!  Thus we had a 20 minute walk to get to the THP offices.

Now, after the great lunch by Sylvia we are stuck inside due a big thunder storm.

Lunch by Sylvia

Sylvia cooked a GREAT lunch for the entire staff. It is a traditional Yucatan meal from pork

Complete with the BEST Flan :) 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Do you know where your cloths come from?

Check this article out from the NY Times and the purple river!
Purple river

Monday, July 15, 2013

Love and Hate Sketch-Up

Like it or not I have been using SketchUP for a few months trying to make reasonably good drawings of our latest stove.  SketchUp is a great "free" CAD drawing program. However, it is very much "a figure it out as you go" kind of process (IE 2 steps forward and 1 step backwards). I have had my moments of frustration trying to draw something I can visualize but can't figure out how to draw it in SketchUp. I did not start this process wanting to become a SketchUp "sort of expert" but this is what I have become, like it or not.  Below are a few examples of our new stove.

The second challenge is the design has changed significantly since we arrived in Mexico to accommodate some different internal materials.  And the difficulty - frustration is exacerbated by the fact that I am using my mini computer (10" screen and no mouse)!

I know a ProE  "Jockey" could make these drawings in no time, but I am no expert in this and I really don't want to be one.

This design is a small step improvement from our original design which is easier to build, but not the final  design which will be much easier to build and significantly cheaper.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A day off in D.F.

WOW. it is Sunday and we have a day off!  It seems like whenever we are in Mexico we work 7 days a week so to have most of a Sunday off is GREAT.  We got up and had to search for breakfast as our usual weekend place doesn't open until 10 am.  We found a good place not too far from our hotel:  "Hotel Casa Blanca".  We then had a few hours of work to do.  We then went on a subway- walking adventure to the Frida Kahlo museum.  The subway in D.F. is great and it only costs 3 pesos!.  After 2 rides  we came to street level.  Then the guess was which way to walk, as the sun was directly overhead (hard to tell what was north).  We got our bearings and after a 20 minute walk we arrived, to stand in line for 45 minutes.

We spent a good 2+ hours there.  It was great but, most of her famous art was not on display there.  It was great to walk through her life and house.

This is part of her studio with her painting holder so she could paint in her wheelchair and lying on her back in bed!

Then, upon getting to the subway station (a new line) we had to buy smart cards to get our fair! $10 pesos.  Now I feel like I need to ride the subway a lot to amortize the cost. :)  Anyway we got our smart cards and were back at our stop (General Hospital) in no time.  It was well after 4pm and way past lunch time so we then ate a GREAT meal at this roadside cafe.

Jacob takes off tomorrow (Monday back to DC as there is no point for him to stay as his scheduled return was on 20 July and if we go go back to Tenango to finish the stove he would have only had 1-2 days there.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Local elections have interrupted our workshop....

We went to San Jose Tenango on July 3rd and are back in Mexico City now because of political unrest in that area. We started the cook stove workshop on July 4th, working with the masons to build the foundation for the stove. July 5th turned out to be a long day because the masons built the stove walls. It was after dark before they finished, but the walls hardened overnight and everything was set and ready to go the next morning. July 6th we arrived ready to build the fire boxes. We got as far as cutting the cardboard forms, setting them in the brick enclosure, backfilling them to their proper heights and putting a layer of cement on top of the backfill. The next steps were to set the fireboxes (firebricks, insulated firebricks and a wooden firebox chimney form) & pot stands in place and filling the cardboard firebox forms with perlite for insulation. The plan was to do those next steps on Tuesday, July 9th, after taking a couple of days off for local elections. The afternoon of the 6th, The Hunger Project worked with the promoters (the workshop attendees) to coordinate their activities after the workshop. At that time, they passed out the list of families from each of the four communities who are on the cook stove list.

But, “the best laid schemes of mice and men go often awry.” Elections were held on Sunday, July 7th. The results came in and the final count had the top two vote getters within 400 votes of one another, out of 7,500 cast. Monday night the losing party decided to show their dissatisfaction with dynamite and gun play, which made the national news here. The Hunger Project decided to pull out of the area completely and to wait until the vote is certified and the local community has calmed down before resuming the cook stove project. We are now in Mexico City and will meet at The Hunger Project Headquarters tomorrow to determine our next steps.