Wednesday, April 30, 2008

i have been hesitant in writing as Steve and I are planning to make a separate blog for our volunteer work. well it's not there yet but there's lots to report. steve and i, and a friend, Ember are having weekly get-togethers speaking only in spanish. actually it was just steve and i the first week and hopefully she can join us soon! and i think i 'll post some emails i've gotten recently and comment as i move along to update where things are now with las Vidas Mejoradas.
Dear Board members and friends,
I have been discussing with Laurie Iaccino and Steve Bouton about the possibilities of them working together with AidAfrica. They have an ongoing project similar to ours working in Peru. They are making cooking stoves, have attended the ETHOS conference this year and they are doing other humanitarian work as well. Now, their project is big enough to need to be a non-profit and have tax-exempt status. I suggested to that instead of going through all of the bureaucracy and expense and trouble of starting a new organization that they use the Aid Latin America DBA of AidAfrica. We have discussed this enough to think that it is a good idea.
I have talked with most of you about this idea and also with our attorney, David Atkin. He thinks it is an O.K. idea. The idea at the moment is for them to file (actually we would file) a new DBA with the Secretary of State under their name, Las Vidas Mejoradas. This is the name that they have been using. This would enable them to be a "project" of AidAfrica. They would use their own name and our EIN number for tax exemption. They would have their own bank account and keep their own books, although their book keeping would be comingled with ours as a sub category of our books. We would be legally responsible to "oversee" their operation. Our board would be the legal entity for their project. This means that we would approve contracts, hire staff, etc. In light of this I would suggest that we ask Laurie to be a member of our board.
I think that this union would be good for them and good for us too. Larry has already figured a few ways to improve their stoves :-).
Peter is concerned that we are not keeping a tight enough ship. I agree, and I hope to be better at producing reports. Quarterly has been suggested and I am working on this. I think that it is a good idea. I have vowed to get better and any help that I can receive would be greatly appreciated. In light of this suggestion I think we should have quarterly board meetings and better written records more available to board members. David says that telephone conferences are just fine, and so instead of generating the angst of trying to get together at one place, let's just plan to have telephone conference board meetings. I suggest that we have one immediately to vote on incorporating Las Vidas Mejoradas into AidAfrica.
I am working decipher what has happened so far in the first quarter of this year and produce a report for you.
I hope to talk with you soon. (how about over this weekend), Ken

Comments: i had lunch with ken yesterday and first and foremost he needs help in getting the books together. he also envisions some publicity and fundraising activities to take place in the near future. so, what i'm going to do is spend a day and a half or so with him doing just that. it'll be good to see what is entailed as to the books, get used to working with Quickbooks and to generally throw myself into all of this both for the sake of las Vidas Mejoradas and Ken's wonderful work in Africa. and i am all ready to be on the board whenever that happens.

an aside on this: there is a possibility i may move out of my house and housesit for someone going to africa to work with ken's non-profit for a few months (maybe longer). it was ironic as i had been thinking in the event we have trouble getting funding, if i were to move out and housesit now, how i could save more money. in the end, i don't really care if the money has to come from that, after all i just know we're going and therefore we simply will have what we need and it just may be a step that's required.

ok, now las cartas en espan~ol between pave and i in arranging this trip for her. thankfully she has a new phone and communication has improved! while it doesn't seem like it would be a big deal to arrange ,in truth it is, especially with me being the "middle woman". anyway, this letter has finally tied up all the arrangements! Yeah!

Querida amiga estoy muy emocionada por el viaje que voy a emprender, y sabes la hermana Sor Nelly ira también ella quiere saber más sobre la tecnologia solar y haremos la primera cocina solar regresando de cochabamba, ella esta de coordinadora del programa juntos de Quiuquijana donde hacen las cocinas mejoradas pero solo les dan la chimenea y me comunioco que en Usi todavía no hay nada de este programa, así que tendre con quien compartir cada momento y así poder saber más juntas,el viaje esta programado el jueves, para llegar el viernes y llamar a las 8 al director de CEDESOL y visitarlo ese día el sabado y el domingo y si mañana convenso a mi jefe del trabajo el lunes más para regresar el martes. Dile por favor que espere mi llamada.Te contará tod y espero salga todo bien. Mi apellido en western union estaba mal escrito y casi no pude recoger el dinero pero por mi cara de buena me lo dieron. El viaje se complico un poco porque el primero de mayo hay pocos vuelos y buses pero no importa yo se arreglar bien todo esto y mu mochila la cargo bien, te quiero mucho y un abrazo muy gordo para Estevan. Con Mucho amor............rrrrrrrr Pave

a brief translation: she's very excited about this trip to bolivia she is about to begin. she's letting me know hermana nelly is also going. (remember her? from the orphanage in Quiquihana?) apparently hermana nelly has been giving away chimneys (i have asked for clarification on this point as i'm a little worried she thinks its all in the chimney...) and is anxious to have the first solar cooker in quiquihana! (i am hoping david from CEDESOL won't mind!) anyway this letter is basically telling me of her arrangements, which are not the best, given 1 of may is a holiday but she has it under control and to not fuss. she will call david on the 2nd and they will spend the friday through monday with him at CEDESOL. (he has an extraordinary program in Bolivia incorporating solar, retained heat and improved cookstoves. as larry and ken told me, its perhaps a bit upscale but incredible. our intention is for learning opportunities, especially in how they bring this technology to villagers. i have told pave we will be building the improved cookstoves in Usi, and likely be introducing solar cooking, unless of course hermana nelly has a bit of extra money....) she mentions it was difficult to get the money i sent for the trip to Western Union as i mistakenly switched her middle and last names, but thankfully her photo was enough despite that mistake. and otherwise her bags are packed and she's ready to go and loves me and sends a big fat hug to Steve.

And communication between david and i indicates he will do his best in sharing his knowledge with Pave:

hi there David,
all is well with you and cedesol! good here. i have the greatest news and that is that Ken Goyer is moving towards sheltering our work (la Vidas Mejoradas) under his non profit (Aid Latin America/Aid Africa)!! anyway that is an aside but i am quite excited. so, my friend is making the reservations for her trip to visit cedesol on may 1. as soon as she sends me the info, i will send it onto you. i gave her the address on the card you gave me. i'm assuming its correct (calle wayno taki #77), and this part, , is that in a certain part of town in cochabamba? and the number i have for you is this: (591-4)4411597. ok, i'll be in touch and thank you so much again for sharing your knowledge with my friend Pavela.

and David replies:

Thanks for the reminder Laurie,
My cel number is 77424269, home is 4401977 and other office # is 4402895. It is better for Pavela to call first, especially since May 1 is a holiday and CEDESOL will not have sec. working. My cel phone is the best option.
Great to hear that Ken is giving a hand!
warm regards.

looking forward to the reservation details so that I can arrange to meet her at the airport. Thursday is a holiday but I will be available.

Also on my list of things to accomplish was to contact PCIA--ie., the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air and below is my letter and the response from Brenda!

Dear Brenda,
I am writing you after hearing your talk and meeting you (both my partner and I, Steve Bouton and Laurie Iaccino) at ETHOS 2008. We had been working in a small project in Peru building stoves and at the time may have mentioned to you that Ken Goyer and his non-profit are interested in sheltering our work under the name "las Vidas Mejoradas".What I am specifically writing about are the steps one needs to take both to join PCIA (ie., once we are indeed sheltered, as it is taking a bit of time) and second, how we can then apply for a grant to continue our work. While you may or may not recall from our talk there, we are returning to the village (the site of our stove project) and re-interviewing and examining families, hoping to see an improvement, and then going to another village to inititate another stove project following much the same steps of our first, ie., interviews, education, and families constructing their own stoves. Larry and Ken are assisting us in developing a different refractory type combustion chamber suited for that area.So if you wouldn't mind writing when you can I would appreciate knowing where we can start, so to be members and so to apply for a grant. Thank you!
Laurie Iaccino

and from Brenda:

Dear Laurie,
Thanks for your follow-up email and interest in joining the Partnershipfor Clean Indoor Air (PCIA). You can join the Partnership on-line at The information you submit is displayed as a Partner Profile, part of our searchable Partner database on the website, and a great opportunity for Partners to share highlightsof their activities and achievements with others in the Partnership and beyond, as the profiles are publicly-accessible. As a Partner, you will automatically receive the quarterly PCIA Bulletin highlighting Partner activities and results on reducing indoor air pollution. The April 2008 edition focuses on activities in Latin America, including a project in Peru that you might want to contact regarding collaboration. You will also receive announcements regarding upcoming events, such as regional capacity building workshops, funding opportunities, and technical resources. We look forward to learning more about your stove project, and welcoming you to the Partnership.

Best regards,
Brenda Doroski
U.S. Environmental Protection AgencyPartnership for Clean Indoor Air

well, that about ties it up for our recent progress. we'll keep everyone posted by way of this blog for now. and i love how when i write about this how it sets it in its place, like the reality it really is. i just love that.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

this last stretch of days has been better, hence i am still working. ha, like i could just stop. i know there is a certain aspect to my work where the shit will all hit the frying pan whenever it does, without regard to anything and one should roll with the punches. all i can say is sometimes, yes, i can, and sometimes, no, i can't. and its those times i get frustrated and feel the pressure and end up crying or spending a great amount of time reconciling my many mixed feelings. oh, when will i grow up?!

i am in a pilates class that started this week. its a very controlled form of exercise and i am realizing i have very little in the way of control over various parts of my body! our teacher is a tight svelte little thing who slides her shoulder blades down and in and out and up, regularly breathes into the lower and back portion of her ribcage and is a living tribute to what pilates can do for you. breathing is important as it seems the outbreath is one thing what stablizes the spine. i will stick with it in this goal of mine to have no if any low back pain. when fatigued, it still hurts and it seems related to how well i hold myself up. keeping up my exercises is a challenge on work days and by number three, my left hip feels like it rides inches above by right. i am walking most days altho it's sometimes hard to fit in. i just love walking though. while i miss jogging, walking also gets me out there, time to just breathe and walk and let things go. i'm also back on my bike, either back and forth to work, or to steve's and toodling around eugene. i do just a few other exercises now and am still visiting my physical therapist for my weekly tear-apart-laurie's-hips' sessions. i am nearly released from the workmens comp doctor and can now lift as much as i want. still careful though. speaking of which rumor has it the new SHMC will be a no-lift zone. they have equipment in each room for lifting. like built into each room. interesting...

on the stove front things are moving in the right direction. last weekend i saw Ken and Larry, (Winiarski, that is, like the grandpa of all rocket stoves!!) we will be umbrella-ed in, it will take a paper filed with the state and our forming a new bank account under las Vidas Mejoradas. I have been invited to be on the board of AidAfrica/AidLatin America which i totally accepted. legally, we will need our records to be on something called Quickbooks, watch our private donations (as opposed to funds from public organizations, as too much in the way of private stuff could put us in the foundation type of organization....(not quite sure i understand all this and as i write i am reminded of my questions for ken.) meetings are to be quarterly and we will keep our parent organization aware of fundraisers, etc. our sub-organization will be led by a steering committee, namely, steve and i! apparently every sunday ken and larry hang out together and we have a standing invite to join them and play with stoves. my intention is to make one of my own, and also a solar cooker for the back yard.

really there is no telling of what may develop as a result of this. to be affiliated with Ken and Larry is HUGE, given their work around the world already. Larry mentioned they would come to peru in a second to help us. and they're interested in just the population we want to work with: those small remote villages not likely to see/buy a mass manufactured improved stove. and in regards to this, they want to experiment with an all-mud stove, including the combustion chamber, using a lighter weight adobe, that once lit will potentially fire the combustion chamber, as well as cover insulation requirements. i am thinking more about this, a proposal/plan, and of course will run it by pavela. while we are set to go to Usi, i need to talk more to her, and her to them as to whether they would be interested in a pilot project of these all-mud stoves. or whether we should stick to our plan of finding bricks. steve and i are pretty committed to the idea of a chimney regardless. its been a challenge as of late to talk to pave. her phone was stolen, her sister's phone is not working and she does not get to the internet. i think her father recently passing is part of it also. when i do talk to her she sounds overwhelmed. her trip is set up for the beginning of may to bolivia and i have yet to get the money to her. today i'm going to try to reach her by way of her mother.

so its time to enjoy the weather. and its a day off! i've got lots to think about and the trails call...

Friday, April 11, 2008

at 1 AM last night i rode home from work, crying on my bike, my cheeks freezing cold and stinging. the last couple nights have seemed brutal to me. the first i floated to another unit, knew where nothing was, the patients were split up, each ill, needing something, and one more so. and with adding on the new computer charting system, it totaled up to a shift without lunch and a headache. i was never in the right place at the right time, and left feeling just awful, not being able at all to do what needed to be done. truthfully the support we need just isn't there alot. one person chatting, or with someone swamped like one's secretary, being shortstaffed, or overworked just adds so much time to getting a needed thing done for a patient. there are so many things that have to each take their time to happen. (ie., write orders--transcribe the orders--enter them in the system--fax paperwork to pharmacy--enter more of this or that in the computer, wait, wait, wait for drugs and/or each persons' medication record, wait for lab draws, tests, whatever--this does not take into account the family--or other situations where you have to figure out how to do it all amidst confusion. one person not on the ball, or if it gets busy in the emergency department, you can just forget it. and its hard to do yourself when you're at the bedside without enough of you to go around already. last night it was back in the icu. same deal, but sicker and again it was wait, wait, wait this time for blood, plasma, labs, meds, doctors...and all the while feeling all the responsibility in my hands, doctors walking away, hanging up, whatever; in this case i had a very unstable person that needed the blood more than me fluffing a damn pillow, or painstakingly entering data in a slow system, endlessly clicking little boxes in their computer record. one doctor was simply insulting and arrogant, another said all we could do was wait for the lab before proceeding and then hangs up leaving you to deal with the unstable patient. yeah, wait, sure i'll wait. the lab draws weren't good enough for some reason, requiring more orders to be entered in the computer and more of a wait for the critically important results. one nurse spent most of the night talking to an emt student. (i am wondering if he has a second job teaching while covering his shift in the unit?) and people are under duress right now with all of this, especially now, with the new system; so people snap at each other, doctors are rude and things take too long to come up from the pharmacy. i guess being a "good nurse" is your ability to tolerate situations like this? no mention is ever made that it might be the system that's broken. no regard is made to ones' dinner and weight limits. it's totally up to you to make all that happen. this does not make for good morale. i wish i could just call in sick. and, yes, i would rather build a stove and see a smile on someone's face because they know you showed up and tried to do at least something.