<![CDATA[ahuyu - clean world healthy people - ANNUAL REPORT]]>Thu, 24 Dec 2015 12:35:42 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Annual Update 2015]]>Tue, 29 Dec 2015 16:42:46 GMThttp://www.ahuyu.org/annual-report/annual-update-2015At the UN conference in Paris a couple weeks ago the world unanimously committed to its first universal and legally-binding climate deal. The agreement establishes a framework for countries to set targets, report results, and redouble their commitment over time to aggressively lower carbon emissions. It is anticipated that many developing countries will recognize the importance of clean household energy as part of their national plans. At this point, however, financing sources and policy mechanisms to promote clean cooking in Guatemala remain limited.
In search of novel funding streams, Ahuyu entered into a partnership in 2015 that rewards our distribution of clean cookstoves with carbon credits. You may have come across the voluntary carbon trading market when given the option to offset the carbon footprint of your air travel, for example. Through this market we are now able to monetize the carbon offsets achieved by our clean cookstove program. The proceeds will help to improve the sustainability of our operations.

In 2015 Ahuyu also added the Ecofiltro to our clean household technology program. The Ecofiltro, which purifies 1-2 liters of drinking water per hour and reduces 99% of pathogens, fulfills an important demand of our program participants and advances our mission to promote clean living environments. Besides reducing gastrointestinal disease, the water filter also minimizes indoor smoke by replacing the practice of boiling drinking water. As such we are able to earn carbon credits for the distribution of water filters as well.
Photos from the distribution of 25 stoves and water filters at Finca San Jerónimo Miramar, Guatemala. Dec 2015.
Among the most common benefits cited by the participants in our program is that a clean cookstove saves money. Fuelwood is expensive in the Sololá region of Guatemala; families that earn $3 per day may spend up to $1 daily on wood. Reducing fuel use by 65%, the efficient cookstove helps families escape the trap of energy poverty. At the same time, the efficient stove reduces the unsustainable wood harvest and helps keep carbon stored in the forest. What these families are accomplishing at the household-level is a prime example of the sort of energy efficiency gains that the world must make at large to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Please make a contribution to support our clean household energy fund to help reduce carbon emissions, fight energy poverty, and support the health and well-being of resource poor Guatemalan families.

Another way to support our work is to purchase the stunning Guatemala Wrap Watch by La Mer Collections. The beaded portion of the watch is made by our partners at Kixjo Artisans. The collection now includes 11 unique designs and rose to the fourth most popular product on TOMS Marketplace in 2015. Proceeds from the watch support Ahuyu and the livelihoods of our women artisan partners who work on a daily basis to make the stove program a reality. 

Happy holidays and thanks your for your support!

<![CDATA[2014 Annual Report]]>Sat, 20 Dec 2014 04:13:28 GMThttp://www.ahuyu.org/annual-report/2014-annual-reportDoña Chonita Chavajay, the leader of our stove project in Guatemala, recently visited two small communities at the base of the Atitlán Volcano, where we distributed 25 stoves in January 2014. She reviewed stove maintenance and conducted interviews. Here is a collection of photos with select quotes from the visit:
These small outlying communities lie in the heart of Guatemala’s prized coffee trade, where a fungal blight has thrived in a warming climate and devastated coffee plants over the past year. The husbands of these women are vulnerable coffee farm laborers with few livelihood alternatives. In our interviews we repeatedly learn that savings from reduced fuel use profoundly impact these families. The reduction of fuel costs by about two-thirds helps to keep their children in school and cover basic medical expenses. 

These testimonials support the precept on which Ahuyu was founded – that a clean cookstove disrupts the cycle of energy poverty and illness perpetuated by open cooking fires. The interviews gathered by Doña Chonita redouble our goal of expanding access to clean cookstoves among the poor in Guatemala.

As one participant, Doña Maria Esmeralda, put it, “I am very thankful with those who are providing us with this great support, and I wish that these clean cookstoves will continue to benefit other people in our community.” Your year-end donation will help us to continue this work.

In Latin America a market-based solution for clean cookstoves continues to be elusive. The key facilitators to scaling access include microcredit, carbon financing, and innovation in low cost stove design. Our project continues to be a laboratory to test new models and demonstrate the feasibility of clean cookstove distribution among the poor in Guatemala. In 2014 we distributed 75 stoves at a cost of $9750.

Over the past year we transferred the Ahuyu model to Friendship Bridge, the largest microfinance bank based in our region. We continue to provide expertise to promote the expansion of their microcredit distribution model among their network of over 20,000 women. Their distribution of 125 stoves in 2014 is an exciting first step.

We continue to sell handicrafts from Chonita's organization Kixjo Qusmajaa on Etsy as a supplemental fundraising tool and to support the livelihood of our partners. We are excited to announce that the line of watches we created in partnership with La Mer Collections has been picked up by Toms. Proceeds from the sale of these watches on Toms Marketplace support both Ahuyu and the women artisans. 

We appreciate your support of our efforts to combat energy poverty, disease, and environmental degradation in Guatemala.


Justin Schram and Chonita Chavajay
<![CDATA[Ahuyu 2013 Progress Report]]>Sat, 14 Dec 2013 20:45:20 GMThttp://www.ahuyu.org/annual-report/ahuyu-2013-progress-reportThe latest Global Burden of Disease data reveals that household smoke causes 3.5 million deaths annually – more than HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria combined. Global health and policy experts finally concur that the reduction of indoor air pollution is an issue of vital importance, and the call for solutions is urgent. Yet the rate of distribution of clean cookstoves remains frustratingly slow. 
The challenge is particularly daunting in Central America. Manufacturers of high performance biomass cookstoves have largely focused their attentions elsewhere due to the small market size in Central America and the expense to build and distribute a model that is large enough to accommodate tortillas. 

Even then manufacturing may not be the trickiest part. Promoting change in a household practice as fundamental as cooking requires an appreciation of local culture and close engagement with community leaders. 
Word of mouth is our most reliable way to share knowledge
 about the dangers of indoor smoke.
PictureChonita educates mothers group
Many cookstove programs struggle to achieve last mile distribution due to disconnect from the communities which they serve. And that is why we at Ahuyu are grateful for the enormous dedication of our local partners.

Chonita Chavajay leads a group of eight women in the artisan cooperative of Kixjo Qusmajaa who have now been distributing clean cookstoves in Santiago for four years. They promote by word of mouth, on the radio, and through local healthcare providers. The women coordinate the delivery of 80-pound concrete stoves from the manufacturing facility to their clients at the end of remote forest trails and through urban footpath mazes. They manage stove loans and collect repayments. They keep tabs on maintenance and provide for repairs. 

And they do this based on their mission to improve the health and well-being of women and children living in resource poor conditions in the Mayan Highlands. With your support they continue to work day-by-day to benefit their community.

The women of Kixjo installed 100 new cookstoves this year at a cost of $12,800. Chonita recently emailed me the following photographs, which capture in beautiful detail the outcome of our efforts:

Our ability to sustain support for the women and the model cookstove program depends on your donations as well as sales of Kixjo's artisan crafts. Remember that we maximize your donation by feeding it into a revolving credit fund, which enables our clients living on as little as $3/day to pay their dues slowly over six months. Your entire donation to Ahuyu will go directly to the purchase and financing of clean cookstoves. 

Additionally, you can support our efforts by buying the artisan jewelry and laptop sleeves of Kixjo on our Etsy site. Please finish your holiday gift shopping here! Finally we are very grateful to our friends at La Mer Collection who have purchased Kixjo beadwork in huge bulk to launch the Guatemala line of La Mer watches. Consider gifting a La Mer Guatemala watch to your friends who appreciate high fashion for a good cause.
At Ahuyu we aim to develop and grow this model of clean cookstove distribution. We aspire for microfinance banks with tens to hundreds of thousands of clients to take up our model and disseminate it through their lending networks. This year I presented our stove program to the Board of Directors at Puente de Amistad – the largest microfinance bank in the region of Sololá where we operate. They recently launched a pilot program and distributed their first 33 stoves. Their clients have given them positive feedback on the model, which they now hope to scale. We are advising them in their efforts and hope they will multiply our impact in the year to come.
The effect of our work is best captured by the testimony of our participants. In this video Doña Juana describes the effect of the stove. She says, "It is a great benefit because with this stove we don't suffer from the smoke.  The smoke leaves through the chimney. It doesn't stay trapped in the kitchen. Now we don't cry anymore from the smoke!" 

Happy holidays and thank you for your continued support! 

Justin Schram, MD, MSc
<![CDATA[Ahuyu 2012 Progress Report]]>Mon, 17 Dec 2012 00:10:53 GMThttp://www.ahuyu.org/annual-report/ahuyu-2012It’s been an exciting year for Ahuyu – full of lessons learned and hard won progress in the promotion of clean cookstoves.  We piloted a promising new cookstove design, installed more stoves, and explored strategic partnerships to create sustained access to healthy household cooking in the Mayan Highlands of Guatemala.
In search of the perfect cookstove

In early 2012 Ahuyu worked closely with Ecozoom, a Portland-based clean cookstove company, to develop a Latin American model of their ultra-efficient and aspirational stove design.  We piloted the stove in Guatemala and gathered user feedback to help Ecozoom make final design improvements.  After a few slight on-site modifications the stove achieved rave reviews and demonstrated great promise.

We explored the potential to import these Chinese-manufactured stoves in larger quantities but ran into obstacles – namely, corrupt middlemen during the importation process.  We ultimately recognized the importance of regional manufacturing and reaffirmed our decision to continue sourcing from our Guatemalan manufacturing partner.  In the long run we are bullish on the Ecozoom stove particularly if production in Guatemala can be attained.

Moving forward with our dependable model

While we piloted and explored importation of the Ecozoom stove, our local partners continued to receive requests for the trusty Onil stove.  We proceeded by financing an additional fifty Onil Stoves at the latest $128 price tag through our hybrid subsidy and microcredit model.  

I recently returned from Guatemala where I got to see the women of Kixjo in action promoting and distributing the stove.  In this video, Kixjo leader Chonita Chavajay wows the spectators (in Tz'tujil Maya) at a stove demonstration in the coffee-producing village of Chacaya.  
We were thrilled that 15 of the 18 families that viewed the demonstration decided to become participants in our program.  Chonita’s husband Antonio and the local pastor Francisco kept busy the next couple days installing all of the stoves and imparting key insights for long-term maintenance.  
It is always inspiring to meet these families, hear their stories, and witness their excitement following the transformation of their home. 
Fuel is increasingly expensive for the poor.  Efficient stoves save money.

On our latest visit we were reminded about the grinding expense of energy consumption for the poor.  A month of wood fuel solely for cooking now costs $35 for a six-person family. 
The poorer families earn only three times this much.  With an efficient wood stove fuel use can be reduced by over half.  Still it is tough to sell the poorer of the poor on a loan that exceeds their monthly income.  Our target market remains the poor who cook over open fires for lack of access to a better option.  Due to price sensitivity within this target market, we continue to subsidize the stove.  

At the same time we recognize that an efficient stove pays for itself over time, and a truly scalable solution should not be bogged down by subsidies.  With the right financing and clear messaging, can we tap into a larger regional demand at a full-priced offering?  We hope to find out in 2013!

Epic 2012 stove tour with Global Partnerships

Our use of microcredit as a means to expand clean cookstove access to the poor attracted the attention of Global Partnerships, a Seattle-based NGO that partners with MFIs throughout Latin America.  I had the pleasure to give Daniel Stokley, Green Technology Program Officer at Global Partnerships, a weeklong tour of our stove program in Santiago Atitlán.    
The goal of the tour was to transfer our knowledge and experience of last mile stove distribution to an organization with the partners, capacity, and scale to reach millions of women throughout Latin America.  We hope to help Global Partnerships excel in this new priority area with the same adeptness that Daniel displayed when battling hundreds of cockroaches during the disassembly of an open fire support structure.

Daniel and I followed our tireless local partners through the lifecycle of stove distribution and got a sense for the complex coordination of logistics, promotion, installation, education, and aftersales maintenance that is necessary to run an effective cookstove program.  We had meetings with our cookstove manufacturing partner and two large Guatemalan MFIs with an eye toward laying the foundation for a large-scale cookstove program.
We all need oxygen to breathe – sadly some of us just can’t get enough

I start many mornings off in Guatemala doing medical consults at Hospitalito Atitlán.  A woman who had been hospitalized for three days with severe respiratory distress followed up with me in clinic last week.   She probably would have died from respiratory failure if not for the administration of nebulizers, oxygen, steroids, and antibiotics at Hospitalito emergency department.  
By the time of the clinic appointment she had stabilized but remained chronically ill from fibrotic scarring throughout both lungs.  I reviewed the chest radiographs with the family and explained that these changes – resulting from years of exposure to smoke –were irreversible.  I felt unsettled watching her leave clinic with an oxygen saturation that would have merited hospitalization until she received supplemental 02 if she were a patient of mine in Seattle.  

Little did I know that the patient was my friend’s mother, and two days later I ended up at their home for dinner.  My friend shared with me the story of her youth.  From the age of 7 she was sent to climb the nearby volcano in search of wood and spent the rest of her time cooking indoors over an open fire.  She did not go to school.  She stayed by the fire for much of the 36-year civil war that somehow found its epicenter in her hometown and which kept her in a state of heightened vigilance and enforced curfews.  

Almost a week after she had been discharged she was still barely able to get out of bed.  What she needs most is supplemental oxygen, but that is hard to find when you are Guatemalan and not in a position of privilege.  It is no surprise that Hospitalito Atitlán is one of our biggest referral sources.

Please help stoke our project
The difference that we make when installing a clean cookstove is immediately apparent to the senses.   Our participating families enjoy the novelty of not living in smoke.  Women report reduction in eye irritation, dry throat, cough, and back pain.  They send their kids to school with faces free of ashen blemishes.  Their clothes are no longer saturated in smoke.  Our participants report improvements in the health of the family, reduced medical expenses, savings on fuel cost, and more time for the cooks to generate income.  

A cookstove is not a silver bullet but we are dedicated to this program because it is helping families to lead better lives.  Clean cookstoves remain an important tool for breaking the cycle of poverty and illness.  The goal to find scalable solutions that help these families break cycles of poverty and illness while addressing the effect of woodfuel combustion on global climate change remains as urgent as ever.
Please help us to continue this challenging work.  A purchase at our artisan shop supports the cookstove program as well as our local partners.  We think you’ll find lovely holiday gifts curated by Ahuyu super volunteer Mandy Ojendyk.  Please consider an end of the year donation to keep our program strong!  


Justin Schram, MD
President, ahuyu.org
<![CDATA[Doña Juana the comadrona]]>Sat, 10 Dec 2011 01:39:45 GMThttp://www.ahuyu.org/annual-report/doa-juana-the-comadronaThis slideshow is the first in a series of photo documentaries that will share the stories of women participating in our project.  (It's better to click on the thumbnails rather than play the slideshow.)
<![CDATA[Launch of artisan shop to support our partners and the cookstove project]]>Thu, 08 Dec 2011 23:47:18 GMThttp://www.ahuyu.org/annual-report/launch-of-artisan-shop-to-support-our-partners-and-the-cookstove-projectI am excited to announce the launch of a new online shop to sell textile and jewelry products handmade by Kixjo Qusmajaa, our partner organization in Guatemala.  The women artisans weave fine textiles over a backstrap loom and string together glass beads into exquisite jewelry.  

Tz'utujil artisans are widely recognized for the richness and quality of their work, but they do not have ready access to a market beyond the shores of Lake Atitlán.  The Kixjo Artisans asked us to help find a larger marketplace for their goods.  Kixjo produced a collection of laptop sleeves, beaded jewelry, and keychains/ornaments for us to market.  Ahuyu volunteer Mandy Ojendyk built an online shop in colloboration with the artisans.  

Sales generously support the families of the women artisans, and proceeds from the markup are donated to the clean cookstove fund.  This exciting new collaboration fuels a virtuous cycle of economic opportunity for the artisans and healthy living conditions for their neighbors.  

Please consider purchasing from the Kixjo Artisans' online store -- http://www.etsy.com/shop/KixjoArtisans -- this holiday season!  Supply is limited in this trial run, and the shop will appear empty after the featured items sell.
<![CDATA[Ahuyu 2010]]>Fri, 31 Dec 2010 18:42:13 GMThttp://www.ahuyu.org/annual-report/an-exciting-first-yearAs the calendar year of Ahuyu's founding draws to a close, it's time to take stock of what we've accomplished.  Ahuyu funded its first round of 50 cookstoves for Mayan families who formerly cooked over open indoor fires.  The images below offer a nice visual of the impact.
Women who adopted the clean cookstove reported the following:
    • "Before I felt like I was asphyxiating, like there was no more air, but now I don’t get that sensation." 
    • "Before when I had my clothes drying they would absorb all the smoke, but now my clothes are cleaner."
    • "Before my baby girl took ash from the fire and got her clothes dirty but not anymore."
    • "Sometimes I couldn’t prepare food for my son to take to school, but now I always do because I can
        cook faster and save money to buy more food."
    • "I do other types of work like beading with the extra time.  Before I made 1 or 2 bracelets in a day, but
        now I make three."
    • "Above all my family is together more now.  Before I did not invite the kids in the kitchen much due to the
        smoke.  I was afraid my little girl would grab the cooking plate, but now she can come in as she pleases."
    • "Some friends say, “Oh how pretty is your stove!”  It makes me happy because the people see that I am
        set up well in my kitchen."
    • "I am tranquil.  I don’t have anything to worry about.  It worried me to have my child near the fire before."
    • "Before I had headaches from the smoke, but now I only have headaches from my children!" 
The women of our partner organization, Kixjo Qusmajaa, have spread the word into their respective neighborhoods. Demand to participate has escalated, but we are dedicated to a gradual roll out to assure that operations are refined in advance of more rapid growth.  Kixjo is currently collecting the monthly microcredit repayments.  The participants report that fuel savings have helped them set aside the cash to make the monthly payments on schedule.
Operations meeting with Kixjo Qusmajaa
To support growth for the organization Ahuyu held a benefit on a beautiful Autumn evening at a Seattle home overlooking the Puget Sound.  Over 130 guests attended.  We surpassed our goal to raise $10,000.  Many thanks to our volunteers and event co-hosts - drawn from the University of Washington, Harborview Medical Center, and the Gates Foundation - for making the evening a huge success!  The benefit helped attract the generous support of the Seattle Foundation, which provided our first institutional grant in November.
Inaugural Ahuyu Benefit, 10/2/10
Finally, we'd like to officially welcome Cheryl Scott to the Ahuyu team!  She has been a key advisor all along, so it's fitting that she is the founding member of our Advisory Board.  Cheryl currently serves as Senior Advisor for Global Health Programs at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In the year ahead we will strive to build partnerships with microfinance institutions, generate data on the impact of our work, and consider scaling into different regions.  We'd like to attract a broad based movement and will therefore explore social media as a platform to connect people to the experience of participating families in Guatemala.  Please stay tuned!
<![CDATA[Welcome to ahuyu.org!]]>Fri, 16 Apr 2010 04:46:38 GMThttp://www.ahuyu.org/annual-report/first-postThe plan for this blog is to document Ahuyu's endeavors to promote clean household energy use in the developing world.  With help from Ahuyu's friends in Guatemala this blog will portray the impact of a clean cookstove on participating families.  Additionally, comments on the latest research and policy papers relevant to clean cookstoves will provide a means to consider the implications of this work.  Home-by-home the transition from an open cooking fire to a clean cookstove yields meaningful change for families and the environment.  This blog will bring you closer to this process as it is lived by participants in our project.  ]]>