Hello and hola from Atandahua, Ecuador. My name’s Jaime and I’m coming to you from El Terreno, here in the little community of Atandahua located in central Ecuador. Like many of us in the world, I’m at a transition point in life and have decided it’s the perfect time to live out a life goal of discovery and growth through travel and service. I’m grateful to have found the El Terreno project while using the Workaway platform as I journey throughout Latin America. For the last three weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with the local communities, serve as an English teacher, and co-construct a potentially life-saving stove, which is to serve as a resource and model for the community. More on that below!
Why El Terreno though? As a person passionate about community building, education, animals, and the environment, with a focus on community, education, and ecology, this organization hit nearly all of these. Here, ecosystem regeneration, opportunities for the development of skills and knowledge, community connection, and cultural exchange (for both the Indigenous community and the volunteers) are not just goals but are being intentionally delivered..
I didn’t have a specific personal project in mind before arriving. However, the need arose to teach English classes and I was psyched. Also, both Joshua and I had been inspired to build a stove that would decrease harmful household pollution, deforestation, and financial stress within the community. Similar to those I’d seen through Trees, Water People, a great non-profit from my hometown, ours was built out of simple, locally sourced materials.
The hope and intention is to inspire and facilitate positive change. For those who still primarily use inefficient and dangerous open-fire stoves within the home, we hope that these will be replaced by this model. As a result of doing this too, it could provide dignified employment for locals, while helping out our wonderful Mother Earth. So, I developed my lessons, put my work clothes on, and got to work, hoping to channel my late grandfather and builder, Jim Haning.
It was great to jump back into teaching English as a Second Language classes, where experiential and engaging learning guided the curriculum. The real challenge, growth, and discovery though came from designing and building that stove. You see, this was something pretty far outside my knowledge and skill set. In fact, pretty soon into the process, I realized I had become more than a little overwhelmed by the task and needed help. It had become another opportunity to practice good ol’vulnerability. Ugh!
The results? Well, El Terreno and the community of Atandahua now has a brand new (and beautiful if you ask me) stove made mostly of earth, concrete, and water, with some metal for the cooking surface, cover for the ashes, and the stove pipe. It’s an affordable, simple, and efficient stove. And no animals, be it two or four-legged, were harmed in the process. Just some sore muscles and fingers, sweat, and a little swallowing of the pride were required.
And for me, I was able to work with and learn from an amazing “maestro” and builder named Angel, who challenged me to gain new knowledge, skill, and confidence. I’m super grateful for the collaboration, guidance, and healthy oversight received from Angel and Joshua. Many lessons were learned and countless insights were gained by all of us through the process, leading to even better builds in less time and with fewer unforeseen challenges.
Continuing this project of building and installing these awesome stoves will continue to be a need to be filled. The great thing is that you can help make this a reality. You are needed in filling that need. Here is a link to learn how:
Support the Local Community
Help us fund our free-of-charge activities so we can continue to educate, inspire and improve the lives of local people. Even a small donation contributes us being able to to cover volunteer, materials and transport costs expenses.