Thursday, November 27, 2008

well as i laid in bed last night i realized how much more more i could share with our friends and supporters from home. i won´t email everytime i make a post so i hope when you have a minute you can just check here for more details of our work and experience.

so first i´d like to add more about the problem of folks not paying for their stoves as promised. the agreement everyone had signed was to pay their 20 soles and then to apply the money to a community project. sipascancha had chosen to plant trees and soncco to begin raising cuy. well no one else had paid and when i asked the few i had interviewed their head went down and there was no direct answer. one evening pave had come by and we discussed this. she having been burned so to speak is a bit more harsh than we can be. we had first thought to just give the money back and forget it. she did not agree with this. her opinion is to give them a chance to pay and if not remove the rockets from the stoves, leaving them the rebar and chimneys. and to give the payors and new pumice rocket. hmm. the problem with this for us is who will do this?? (i mean remove the stove.) i am simply not comfortable with hiring pedro and cristobal to go to their neighbors and do this. and then to pay them. we are leaning towards nino´s suggestion of the chickens. i like that it goes towards families and children esp having eggs. and i don´t want to leave with bad feelings. i would rather hold an open meeting after the interviews and discuss the stove performance, thier suggestions and then make sure the non-payors know the payors will receive the chickens in place of the community project which could have potentially benefitted everyone had they kept their word. andf one more note in regrds to asking 20 soles for the stoves with payment expected upfront. pave explained how much things cost and what they are willing to buy. their skirts can be up to 100 soles for god´s sake. so we will hope their lungs are as important.

and more about the pumice rockets and our plans for the stoves in usi. soon we´ll visit this mine. maybe this weekend. we were supposed to go today but pave had to cancel. these rocks are huge, light and float. its also cheap, like 25 soles a truckload. the plan is to set up a workshop at hermana nelly´s sort of convent in quiquihana. we´ll cut 2 inch slices to form the sides of the rocket. these will be placed around a rebar form to insure the proper dimensions and support. ( we´ll also be joining the sides with a clay and pig hair mix. we´ve met ignacio, a spanish guy who has been volunteering in paves class she teaches. as it turns we have set a flame of excitement under him as well and come mid january he´ll be working with us. he has located a saw we can cut this rock with. additionally, in that community we have a model already built by pave and ignacio. pave hope we can introduce the stove to these familes as well. apparently this is a different econimic level than our usual village. pave´s thought is we can then see the response and compare it between different economic levels. and if this stuff is as cheap as it is, and we are using it in areas feasible to get it to. well what the hell, why not.

also on the stove front we met up with mike hatfield and his girlfriend jen in cusco last night. he is affiliated with aprovecho in lane county. he was very encouraging as to our pumice rock rocket! and to the idea of possibly placing two side by side with one chimney as opposed to our previous design.

finally on a more personal note, its great to be here in cusco. our apartment is really very nice. a bit cold but we have like 7 blankets between us let alone our sleeping bags. there is a nice patio we can enjoy when its sunny and a kitchen that we have already entertained in! ellen and ron, steve´s parents are here for the next couple of weeks. it was fantastic to bring them to sipascancha and share more of our work here with them. ellen´s support in the school interchange has been invaluable. and both of them are incredibly encouraging and helpful with suggestions about our stove projects. much of what we do is by the seat of our pants! having them see what we are up against and why we are here doing this--seeing it with their own eyes--well it means alot that they would take their time and money to be here and offer their suggestions and encouragement.

so enough. happy thanksgiving to everyone. we have alot to be thankful for and we love you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

well did we have a great day or what. ron, ellen, steve and i went to sipascancha today to begin plans for the follow-up interviews. timing was perfect on our part as far as transportation went. we arrived about 8:30 AM to find the market in near full swing. adelita made us our mates (tea) and we were called out to a new patio in front of the youngest children´s school. each child welcomed us, threw confetti over each of us and then sang songs and danced for us. we saw the Ukuku dance! (ukuku means bear in quechua.) . how could i forget how absolutely adorable they are. pictures will be posted! we gave adela the gifts from North Branch School. once we speak to the director of the older childrens´school we will present everything (photos, cards, dvd´s etc) to all of the kids. this month we´ll encourage adela and other teachers to put together another exchange about the plants and animals of their community to share with the kids of North Branch. we then went to the market where i bravely yelled in spanish something to the effect of, "Muy buenas dias a todos! y si usd tiene una cocina mejorada porfavor encontrarme in el espacio 22 por su examen y entrevista! " ((good day to all! if you have a cocina mejorada please meet me in space 22 for your exam and interview.) this was repeated by our friend pedro in quechua. it was the typical reaction, ie., ¨ahh..what..are you talking to me?!" but all it took was one person! and then the booklets came out, and we received more attention. we completed 5 or 6 exams and got to talk to the folks about the stoves. (the booklets most of you have seen either in print or on-line) well, they were simply thrilled to see themselves, their friends and their stoves in print! the reports we got were good. the people interviewed are using their stoves, find them easy to light and feel they are using less wood. one woman told me she burned herself all the time with her fire and now not with her cocina mejorada. one issue yet to be resolved however is the discovery yesterday, that many have not paid for their stoves as promised. (long story) we are getting opinions of how to handle this because it isn´t fair that some did. right now the idea most favorable is to provide the payors with three gallenitas (chicks) they love their chickens and more so the eggs. we haven´t made a final decision. otherwise as we do the interviews and deal with this we find it gives us the opportunity to improve the next time in usi. for example people will pay upfront and if not, not receive the stove parts. i know it sounds harsh but i do not believe in giving them away. and this name thing. (they all have the same 4 or 5 names but in various orders, so when we try to find thier interview sheets from the first exams its difficult. let alone when the wife has yet another name as well as théir children. so we have ideas on how to get all of this down. nexy week we begin our 3-day stay in the village where we hope in three weeks we will have at leat 100 people re-interviewed. we also will visit homes close to the center of town to inspect the stoves. as always we have been welcomed with open arms. i left with tears in my eyes. crazy, but to work with the people of these villages means the world to me. i will write more soon as there is much to add. besos to all.
I am writing to present a situation that perhaps someone can help us with. I have mentioned Adela and Nino many times in our work here. They are both teachers who work in the villages where Steve and I have been working with health and stove projects. Their help, support and caring has been invaluable. Apparently Nino´s sister, Marisol Saji Saire, 24 yrs old, has been accepted into a program where she can travel to the United States for four months (Dec 15-April 15). It is with an organization here with the initials INTEJ. (I will have to find out what this stands for) Her parents paid the S/3000 for here to particpate. Originally she was to travel to Montana to work and study english. But this organization could not find a job for here there so she is trying to locate something on her own. It is all quite above-board because if we can find her a fulltime job, the employer would need to sign a contract. The organization has already assisted her in obtaining a visa and she would be returning to Peru as I said april 15th. In turn she will work fulltime and be able to study/speak English. She is willing to do most any kind of work and can go to any state, Currently she is in university here in Cusco and has been studying but as many realize without practicing a second language and actually speaking , it is more difficult to have a command of it. With the money she makes she would support herself there. So that´s it. Is there anyone out there (Andy/the Peruvian community of Eugene and Springfield?) who could help us find her a legal job with the employer willing to sign a contract with this organization? I know this is big but also everything Nino and Adela have done for us is also beyond big. Please write back and let me know if there is something that seems truly possible and I will forward the contract to you. Thanks to all.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

it´s sunday and things are looking up here in cuzco. i am much better after i discovered a pill for soroche! ellen and ron arrived (steve´s parents) and will be in the cuzco area for the next three weeks. ron had gotten sick while they were enroute to see us coming across Peru via Arequipa and Puno. thankfully he is better today. it´s wonderful to see them here and to share our work, friends and love of cuzco with them. so after a solid nights sleep last night we both felt better. this afternoon we all surprised our other friends, adela and nino with a visit. it was myself, of course steve, ellen and ron, pavela and juana, paves friend visitng from spain. they had not expected us so it turned into quite the fiesta. adella´s brother, rodrigo serenaded us with music´while we drank coca cola. we all reminicsed about our work and how we met. ron shared his stories of first coming to peru in the 70´s. and we met nino aderly, (yes aderly!) adela and nino´s new absolutely adorable 6 month old. he is the picture of nino, big and burly and with the sweetest face. we gave them our copy of the quechua folktales and amazingly nino´s class is studying the folkorica by interviewing the abuelitos and abuelitas of thie villages. he was excited to share a book in print with some of the same stories they are learning from their abuelos. we began our plans for repeating the exams in sipascancha and soncco. being with everyone and thinking back of how we all had met and what opportunities we have had together to do the work we do here brought tears to my eyes. i am so damn sentimental.
so yes on wednesday we´ll head up there. nino will meet us at the calle puputi bus station (steve just loves this 4 AM bus thing!) and we will be there for the wednesday market, a perfect setting for seeing everyone and reminding them of the exams. over and over we were told not to worry about a thing as they are as anxious as ever to work with us. so after a chicken dinner complete with papas fritas (french fries), fresh vegies and coffee we all made our way home. it was such a beautiful night for a walk and hence steve and i came to our old cyber cafe and got to see ediberta, a young hardworking girl who we had seen often our last time here. she was as happy as we to see each other.
i know it may seem strange but it´s like being home and to have the chance to work alongside everyone again just makes me so very happy. and what with our work soon reaching another town with hopefully improvements to our rocket design, well you can just imagine i am a happy girl. not vomiting with a pounding headache certainly helps!
so its time to close and head home to calle saphi. i hope all are well at home and we´ll write again soon as always feel free to refer to my blog for more entries and steve`s as well, a link to his blog is one my page , no photos are up yet but we´ll let you know when!
the blog address is

love, Laurie

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The art of giving to others

By Theresa Curry for The News Virginian
Published: November 18, 2008

A chain of family connections and generous hearts links school children in a mountaintop school in Nelson County to school children in an isolated village in the Andes. The same connections link two rural Virginia artisans with a couple of West-Coast health advocates determined to work with the Peruvian school children and their families for better health. Nelson County potters Nan Rothwell and Kevin Crowe host an annual event, “Nelson Clay,” a studio tour and sale, with a portion of sales going to the project this year. The tour, scheduled for Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 6-7, is also designed to publicize the grassroots effort to improve the respiratory health of the people of Sipascancha. Information and pictures of the village and its children will be on display in both studios. Vidas Mejoradas, which means better lives, is the name of the project that’s connected these adults and children with each other. At more than 14,000 feet in elevation, the isolated village of Sipascancha drew the attention of Steve Bouton, formerly of Afton, and Laurie Iaccino, a nurse who had visited the Peruvian Andes several years ago for basic health education. She had observed the townspeople cooking their meals in open fire pits, the smoke from the day’s cooking filling their adobe shacks, creating a permanent layer of soot and giving children year-round colds, bronchitis, persistent coughing and pneumonia, said Ellen Bouton, Steve’s mother, who still makes her home in Nelson County. She is currently in Peru with her son and Iaccino. The Vidas project conceived by Steve Bouton, Iaccino and a Peruvian colleague, Pavela Jimenez Figueroa, began to change this basic fact of life for Sipascancha’s people. “Vidas Mejoradas has chosen to focus on one of the simplest and easiest ways to help,” Ellen Bouton said, “introducing a basic cooking stove with a chimney that burns wood more efficiently and removes the smoke from the living space.” Any family that wanted a stove was able to participate. They did so by having an initial assessment of their family’s living situation and respiratory health. Forty bricks were required for the stove body and about six dollars for the construction and installation. Families made the adobe bricks, with the Vidas Mejoradas team contracting with businesses in the city of Cusco – about 2½ hours away — to make the combustion chambers, chimneys and grates. They hired local trucks to haul the materials to the villages and trained local people to visit homes to make sure the stoves are built properly, Bouton said. This month, they return to Sipascancha, where they hope to find smoke rising from chimneys instead of drifting through the small homes. They also hope to find improved respiratory health in the village’s school children. While there, they’ll start the whole process again in the village of Usi, another isolated mountain town. Meanwhile, the children of Sipascancha have already benefitted in at least one other tangible way. The North Branch School in Afton has designated the school as its sister school. Both schools study Spanish as a second language (children in Sipascancha speak Quechua); they’ve exchanged drawings; and each child in the Peruvian school now has his or her own pencil, courtesy of a Nelson County pencil drive. Previously, Bouton said, families shared a pencil between multiple children. Ellen Bouton is on the board of North Branch School and Rothwell’s children graduated from it. Vidas Mejoradas is funded by the savings of its founders and small donations coming from grassroots fundraising drives in Oregon, where Steve Bouton and Laurie Iaccino make their home and events such as the studio tour. The annual studio tour is also a good chance to see works by two of Virginia’s potters. Both have taught and have works distinguished by creative use of a variety of glazes and glazing techniques. Rothwell has a studio near Nellysford and exhibits at Spruce Creek Gallery near Wintergreen as well as in the Artisan’s Center of Virginia in Waynesboro. She makes salt-glazed and stoneware pots in classic and elegant shapes. Crowe makes wood-fired pottery in his studio in Tye River and teaches classes nationally and internationally. His own work ranges from huge art pieces to smaller, functional pots. The works of both artists will be available at each studio. Nelson Clay 2008 is scheduled for Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 6-7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is free to the public. For more information, call Rothwell at 434-263-4023 or Crowe at 434-263-4065 .
per Steve:
Well, here we are! All flights were smooth, no delays although the LAX airport can go die with their ridiculous sprawl setup. We barely made it to our plane with a 90 minute layover. Once we arrived in Lima everything was very smooth, we got into Cusco around 1 PM. Pave met us at the airport and we went to our hostal. The patio (that´s what our apartment is called) wasn´t ready, they were still working on the kitchen. We rested for a while and then went out with Pave and a Spanish friend ofhers named Juana to Los Perros for our favorite pumpkin curry soup. We had coca tea as well, hoping that we wouldn´t have a repeat of Laurie´s sickness this time. Oh well, so much for that! Around 10 PM, after we got home, she started projectile vomiting and continued until 6 A.M., at which point we went to the clinic. Clinica Pardo was full so they sent her to a new hospital, Clinica San Jose. They put her on an IV drip and ran some tests. Finally, at 4 PM, they let her go with inconclusive results. They thought it was food poisoning, we think that is dubious at best and are leaning towards altitude sickness a.k.a. siroche. At any rate, she is mostly recovered today, but we lost all of yesterday hence the late email. While she was in the clinic, I went out to try and get some basics to set up our apartment up. It was at this point that I really noticed how muchmore capable I am of getting around than last time. San Pedro market? No problem! Haggle in Spanish? Sure! I even managed to recover from giving a taxi driver wrong directions on my way back to the clinic (having confused it with Clinica San Juan where Laurie used to volunteer). So I returned to our patio victorious, bearing an hervidor (electric waterboiler), a couple of cups, some ramen, some coca leaves, and a bulb of garlic. Several people complimented me on my Spanish, but I really need a few complete Quechua sentences because that was always asked next, like a challenge - well, you might speak Spanish OK, but what about Quechua? Last night I fed Laurie ramen and we went to bed at like 7 PM. The time is really confusing here, I remember only being an hour off the West Coast last time but now we are THREE (?!?!?) hours off and it gets dark MUCH earlier, like 5:30. Climate is hot, but it can easily drop 5-10 degrees when the sun goes behind clouds. Yesterday out the clinic window we saw a terrifying rain front several miles away that completely failed to materialize. By the time we were headed home it was gone. Cusco has a lot of familiar smells - wood smoke, eucalyptus smoke, car exhaust, that incense wood they burn (Paulo Santo), dust. It is really a relief to feel familiar with my surroundings this time, last time I was totally dependent on Laurie for the first six weeks. Pave informs us that she has found a source for blocks of pumice, and she also found a guy with some kind of table saw that can cut it into the pieces we want. A promising start. When we go to Usi in late December we will apparently be staying in Hermana Nellie´s convent. Our favorite nun, Hermana Luz Marie, succumbed to dementia after doing an unbelievable feat of heroics. Somehow she came upon a guy from the village who had tried to kill himself and she carried him on her back all the way to the hospital and saved his life, but she never recovered physically or mentally from the effort. Like something out of a Garcia Marquez story, I swear... Today we are at our fave breakfast spot Trotamundo´s. Now we head out to acquire more essentials for our patio. Next week on Monday or Tuesday we will head up to Sipascancha and start trying to track down people to re-interview them.
hi everyone,
we made it again! i am typing away across from the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco. today is our second day here. unfortunately my first was spent in a hospital with apparent food poisoning. no messing around for me, i guess! i had spent the previous night vomiting assuming i was going through another episode of soroche (altitude sickness) but the friendly docs at the clinic said no as my oxygen saturation was not low enough! (it was 88 percent for god´s sake). They told me it had to be in the 70´s to low 80´s to be soroche! my6 god you think one would need to be on a ventilator then! well so who knows what i ate or if it was in part due to the altitude. so, we got home after my day of observation, IV fluids and meds for nausea and headache. (our new address is Calle Saphi 661, patio 2, Cuzco, PERU.) We have a nice litttle place albeit with that odor of whatever they put on the wood floors here. i then promptly cut my finger on my razor while searching for stuff to take an overdue shower. so yes i am typing with two fingers and still abit under the weather.
on the up side we saw Pave and began discussing our plans for our project. much will be the same except for one very exciting possibility. it is appearing that we will be building our next set of rockets combustion chambers out of pumice rock from a mine (Wiraqocha or something like that), very near the town of Usi (where we will be doing our next project.) right now pave is testing them in an oven to see what temps it can tolerate. it looks like these are big pieces of rock, they float, and are very cheap. and once we figure the best way to cut out the rocket pieces, she implied many rockets could be made from even just one piece of this rock. more practice and more testing will be done before our decision will be made but it is looking promising. first, we will be hitting Sipascancha, Soncco, and C´orao first for testing like mid next week or so. yes! it was great to see her and exciting to think of our next 4 months here.
so today will be spent continuing to get used to the altitude, picking up some things for our apartment, and getting ready for our company. (Ellen, Ron, and Mike) And i have a doctors appt too.
so mom, please don´t worry, i´ll be ok and to everyone else a big hug.
with love,

Monday, November 10, 2008

Here is a quick post, likely my last before we leave in a week for our next stove project. And really all I want to do is acknowledge all who helped in anyway towards our recent fundraising efforts.

Muchisimas gracias a Sam Bonds Garage, especially the wonderful wait staff, bartenders and to the great bands who played the greatest music, Samba Ja, Whiskey Spots, and Hot Drama. Last but not least, thanks to all who attended. We raised $389!

y tambien muchisimas gracias a Belly Restaurant and owners Ann Marie and Brendan. We cannot thank you enough for opening your restaurant to us and our cause! And it was fun! And thanks to all who made it all possible including Fishermans Market of Eugene, The Sweet Life, and to all our friends who attended. We love you. We made $292!

And to all who particpated in our raffle, Vivian and Rod won the manta! We made $130 on the tickets!

And to all who participated in our Silent Auction! Leslie, Cheryl, Ellen and Ken, Brendan, and Sue. We made $210!

And to Margaret Girle, my Australian artist friend, thank you so much for donating your work (and heart and soul) to our cause. And Shawn Mediaclast of the Museum of Unfine Art, thank you for displaying our work! (I will thank early the owners of Downtown Express in Eureka, California, and to Sue and Josiah for setting it up! Our next display will be there for the month of December. Hopefully Nib in Eugene will be showing them locally again in the new year while we're gone. The money raised from these paintings will go directly to our work and we appreciate everyone's efforts.

Other recent donators are Robert, Leslie, Gary and Cheryl, Ken (not to mention previous donors Bruno, Wally, Valerie, Chanteuse, David, Dan and Laura, Katherine, Gabi, Teresa, Brian and Miryam, and David and Laura.

And to Nan and Kevin, The North Branch School, Ellen and Ron, thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for thinking our work worthy.

All told we made $3200, which does more than make a dent in our expenses!!

And finally just to all our friends who have stood behind us and encouraged our efforts. Please forgive my not listing each and every name. Your willingness to listen and support us in all the ways you do truly sends us on our way feeling loved.

And to my family. I love you Josiah and Mica! And Mel and Alex! Thanks for sharing your Mom. Beau, how many times have you allowed me to live in your home (or motor home) so to save money for our work??!! I have a wonderful ex-husband. Thank you! And to Mom and Dad, I know you think this is all crazy, thanks for sharing your daughter too.

And thanks to my sweetie.

So, we'll keep you all posted right here. Next stop, PERU.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

It's 'amping up and in just a couple weeks we'll be on our way back to Peru. Margaret Girle, my Australian friend's paintings went up at Sean's place, the Museum of Unfine Art on Willamette Street. They look incredible, especially finally hanging! She donated them to our cause and Sean so kindly gave us two weeks to show them. Soon i'll post some pictures. Tonite is our benefit at Sam Bond's with three great bands and a raffle of a hand spun, dyed and woven manta from Sipascancha Alta. And next week our dinner/drinks/ silent auction at Belly. We would love to see everyone there!
so busy, busy, busy. and it's all good. we have a place lined up to stay in Peru and work to do once there. First we'll re-visit our previous villages with their stoves and repeat the brief health exams. We're excited to see if there's a difference from our previous findings. Then onto to Usi where we'll do our best to teach about the dangers of indoor air pollution and provide families with what they need for a stove with a chimney.
Thanks to everyone who has in some way encouraged us , either financially, emotionally or otherwise. It means alot.