Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Loaning worms in Armatambo

My friend Ana Suyo is always one of the first to know when I´m coming to Peru. She organizes groups of people who are interesting in learning about the energy-saving wood stoves and ovens that I´ve been building during the years that I´ve been working and vacationing here. Sometimes they show up and sometimes they don´t.

During the past week I´ve been teaching a group in Armatambo (a small neighborhood about ten minutes by mototaxi from where we live) to build ovens and stoves. The people are members of the same religious sect that I had worked with before in other parts of the city. Their "invasion" is one of the most recent in Lima, so they´ve had to take whatever land they could find. They settled near the top of a bare, rocky hill. Naturally there is no electricity or water available there yet.

They´re very poor, but very enthusiastic about learning something that will help to improve their lives. They hope to start a small business selling baked products. When we finish building the oven this weekend, I´m going to show them how to make cinnamon rolls. They´re also interested in creating a vegetable garden, but the soil is almost pure sand, so I´m showing them how to make a compost pile. I also found someone who sells worms, and I´m going to loan them 5 kilos of worms, which they can return after the worms have reproduced. They insist on paying for any materials that we use, and have already spent about $25 to build the oven and stove, so I felt uncomfortable asking them to spend another $8 on worms. Hence the loan.

In the last photo, we´re assembling a retained heat cooker from recycled cardboard, plastic bags and bottles. (It's essentially an insulated box where rice or beans can be cooked using their own heat once they've been brought to a boil.) An old lady (second from left) was passing by and when she heard that it was possible to cook without fire, she looked to the sky and said "It's a miracle!". She decided to stay and help us.

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