Joining Forces for The Benefit Of Guatemalan Women and Their Families

The Concord United Methodist Church Team, dressed in traditional Mayan huipiles and cortes, alongside the women who received new stoves

The Concord United Methodist Church Team, dressed in traditional Mayan huipiles and cortes, alongside the women who received new stoves

It isn’t often that a 16-year-old and a 78-year-old would be found working together over a shared goal. However, through Concord United Methodist Church’s group of 16 volunteers from Knoxville, Tennessee, generational gaps quickly vanished, as the entire group came together. Over the course of a week in Guatemala, the team was able to construct 13 stoves and plant 150 trees. The 13 stoves were built in family homes, with each stove often supporting 10-15 people. In the same way that several generations came together to build the stoves, several generations of families will now be able to benefit. Given that respiratory illness, which is directly linked to smoke inhalation from homes, is a leading cause of death in Guatemala for both children and adults, the impact of these new stoves truly will be life-changing (WHO 2015).

This Tennessee team was lead by Kim Weakley, who, after 17 trips to Guatemala, has shown her long-standing commitment and passion for the work of Highland Support Project. Kim started coming in 1999 on a medical team, and shortly began leading her own stove-building teams in 2000. Kim has also continued to support HSP even after personally relocating from Virginia to Tennessee, and has lead teams from 3 different churches over 20 years. Several years ago after Kim shared her experiences with a church group from Montana that she met while in Brazil, that church in Montana decided to send their own volunteer group, proving that Kim’s enthusiasm for HSP’s work is clearly contagious.

Kim, the team leader, with the family that received the stove she worked on. The mother of the family is typically who will be spending the most hours over the stove, often starting as early as 3:30am to begin preparing breakfast. When the mothers have young children that are kept close-by in a sling, as seen above, they also fall victim to many hours of smoke exposure.

Kim, the team leader, with the family that received the stove she worked on. The mother of the family is typically who will be spending the most hours over the stove, often starting as early as 3:30am to begin preparing breakfast. When the mothers have young children that are kept close-by in a sling, as seen above, they also fall victim to many hours of smoke exposure.

Written by. Madison S.

Diana Alvarado