“This is the fist time they’ve seen so many blonde people,” laughed Mauricio as he led the group up the hill. Mauricio Rosales works in HELPS' community development program, and has helped stove teams install thousands of ONIL cook stoves across the Guatemala.
He has taken a construction team into the village of Santa Cruz near to install both indoor and outdoor stoves for a family there. This is one of more than 60 families receiving ONIL cook stoves and water purification systems as part of a project focusing on families of students who attend the Santa Cruz school.
With many years of experience under his belt, Mauricio is able to create an experience for the volunteers that adds great depth to the work they are doing. “It’s about relationships, and talking with volunteers about what we are doing and the impact it will have.” Mauricio emphasizes the importance of the human dynamic for both volunteers and program participants, and the connection and lasting change it can create for both.
As the children run excitedly into the home, as if to make the way ready for the volunteers, Mauricio explains to the group the importance of the stove to the family who will receive it. As he talks to the woman of the house, he translates to the group that this woman has had an open fire in the home for over 30 years. In a home with so many children, the installation of the stoves will allow the family to make great strides towards a safer environment, by greatly reducing the risk of severe burns and eliminating the presence of toxic fumes.
Mauricio talks about the perspective he has gained from his experience working with Guatemalan and U.S. volunteers and their efforts to create a brighter future for the people of his country.
“It is beautiful work. I have gotten the chance to know different cultures. Every volunteer that comes here has a big heart and it is wonderful to build these relationships.”