Community Voices: Guadalupe Padilla

Sra Guadalupe Padilla Auxiliar de Viverista

In every country where we plant trees, we employ local citizens to manage our tree nurseries and planting efforts. These dedicated individuals plant each seed by hand, care for the seedlings for months while they are maturing in our nurseries, and then help to oversee the planting of those trees.

Recently, our long-time partner Armando Hernandez, Director of Arboles y Agua para el Pueblo (AAP) in El Salvador, shared a story with us about his newest employee, a single mother raising two sons and a daughter.

Guadalupe Padilla was hired to help relocate the AAP nursery and care for the tens of thousands of trees grown at this site. She finds much pride in her work and the new job allows her to support her children while contributing to environmental conservation efforts in El Salvador.

Guadalupe believes that “We must conserve the environment for our children!” And why shouldn’t environmental protection also create jobs for people like Guadalupe, who live in rural areas where is employment is needed most?

Support one of our community-based conservation projects today!

Community Voices: Hilda Garcia

For over 10 years, Doña Hilda Garcia has been an integral part of our conservation efforts in El Salvador. Here, she shares her story about how she became involved with our work. Thank you, Hilda, for your dedication to the environment and people of El Salvador!

Doña Hilda in our tree nursery in El Porvenir, El Salvador.
Doña Hilda in one of our tree nurseries in El Porvenir, El Salvador.

I used to suffer from the smoke of an open cooking fire. A friend told me about TWP’s clean cookstove program, and I jumped at the chance to participate, even though my husband was out of town so I didn’t know if he would approve. I built my stove with Larry Winiarski [inventor of the Rocket stove] and we made tortillas on it the same day! When my husband returned from his trip and saw the Justa stove, I told him all about it and was relieved that he supported my decision.

Without all the smoke, my eyes don’t water and my family can eat comfortably indoors. My older children always used to suffer from respiratory infections, but my youngest girl grew up very healthy, breathing clean air.

In 2003, TWP asked for my help creating a play about the Justa stoves. The play was so successful that they proposed that I work as a stove promoter. I am happy being a stove promoter. I leave the house more, I have new friends, and I’ve seen new places, even Nicaragua for an international stove conference. My husband now works as a stove builder, so helping people with Justa stoves is a family affair for us.

Hilda visits with a clean coostove user in El Salvador.
Hilda (left) visits with a clean coostove user in El Salvador.

When I visit people to follow up after they have built their cookstoves, they say it’s like a gift from God. The Justa stove has improved my life and the lives of many others.

Bright Futures

bright futures

by Megan Maiolo-Heath, Marketing Manager

Within each community our work touches, we encounter the same desires among local citizens: a healthy life and a bright future for themselves, their children, and their grandchildren. I think this is a desire that most every human on Earth longs for and strives towards. We seek healthier minds, bodies, and spirits.

At Trees, Water & People, we design conservation projects with one important question in mind: How can we create a bright future for every person we work with? Our approach to conservation includes more than just environmental protection. We seek to improve all aspects of life, including human health and economic well-being.

children with solar light Honduras
Children in Honduras benefit from solar lighting technology.

An example of this can be seen within our Solar Energy Program, which brings clean energy, like solar lights and home energy systems, to families living without electricity. Solar energy reduces the use of natural resources and cuts harmful emissions while providing families with a better quality of life. Children can study at night, long after the sun has set. Families save money by replacing kerosene lamps and reducing mobile charging fees. And, health is improved by reducing pollution in the home.

Solar lighting systems are both literally, and figuratively, creating a brighter future for thousands of families who have been left in the dark. And, this can be seen with each of our community-based programs, including reforestation, clean cookstoves, solar heaters, and green job training. We provide local people in Central America, Haiti and on Native American reservation with the tools, training, and resources needed to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing their communities.

This is what inspires us each day and, from what so many donors have told us, this is what inspires other people to give to these important projects. Conservation can, and should, empower people to have a brighter future!

We hope you will continue to follow our work and progress. In the coming months, we will give you a closer look at how we are creating bright futures for thousands of families.

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Happy International Women’s Day!

IWD2014

Every year, on March 8, millions of people around the globe come together to celebrate the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing the world’s attention on areas that still require further action. The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911, and continues to be an important day in promoting equality for all women.

International Women's Day logoInspiring Change is the 2014 theme and “encourages advocacy for women’s advancement everywhere in every way”. It calls for challenging the status quo for women’s equality and vigilance inspiring positive change.

At Trees, Water & People, we empower women and inspire positive change by helping to fight energy poverty. Our clean cookstoves, solar lights, and composting latrines are some examples of the technologies we use to improve the lives of girls and women in Latin America.

These programs would not be successful without the leadership and hard work of local women. Throughout our program countries, these women provide us with the guidance necessary for implementing successful, long-term solutions to the problems facing their families and communities. Their feedback informs our cookstove designs, mobilizes community members and inspires change for a better future.

We hope you will celebrate this International Women’s Day with us by donating to our programs that improve the lives of women and girls in Central America and Haiti!

Notes from the Field: El Rapidito Clean Cookstove

by Lindsay Saperstone, International Communications Coordinator

Rapidito clean cookstove Nicaragua

We are always amazed by our local partner’s innovations in conservation, especially when it comes to clean cookstove design and construction. In Nicaragua, we partner with Proleña, an organization dedicated to protecting the local forests. One way they accomplish this is with fuel-efficient stoves, which greatly reduce fuelwood and charcoal consumption and indoor air pollution.

Rapidito clean cookstove
Leonardo shows the inside of the Rapidito cookstove

One of Proleña’s cheapest and most efficient cookstove models is a small charcoal stove known as the Rapidito. The stove sells for C$ 550.00- C$665.00 (approx. $25 USD). When the stove first came out, Proleña decided to have a naming contest and asked dozens of women to try the stove and then write down their name suggestions. Ironically, more than half of the attendees chose the same name!

“El Rapidito”, meaning “the quick one” in Spanish, reduces cook time and charcoal use by up to 50 percent. Proleña’s Technical Director, Leonardo Mayorga explains  that “while most people think of carbon stoves (charcoal) as only being good for beans and asado (a type of roast meat), the Rapidito’s built in temperature control means the stove can cook a large variety of foods that other charcoal stoves can’t accommodate.”

To learn more about TWP’s clean cookstove designs please visit our wesbite!

Community Voices: Carlos Humberto Gonzalez

by Megan Maiolo-Heath, Marketing Manager

Carlos Humberto Gonzalez

Working with local farmers throughout Central America is an important part of grassroots natural resource conservation programs. These dedicated and hardworking individuals know the local land, watersheds, biodiversity, and soils better than anyone and they are dependent on a healthy environment for their livelihoods.

Carlos Humberto Gonzalez is one of these farmers that left a lasting impression on me and my colleagues. Carlos was born and raised on his family’s small farm, located on a hill overlooking the rural town of El Porvenir, El Salvador. Now that his mother and father have passed on, the responsibilities of running the farm are all his. He grows a variety of crops, including tomatoes, eggplant, citrus trees, corn, and coffee and depends on the land for his survival.

drip irrigationAs we toured his property, he showed us how he had created an innovative drip irrigation system for his crops using plastic soda bottles and gravity. This system saves precious water, which at the time was hard to come by due to severe drought conditions.

Through our partnership with Arboles y Agua para El Pueblo, we were able to add a touch of chocolate or cacao (Theobroma cacao) to his plot of coffee, helping to improve the soil quality and increase the biodiversity of his land. These 50 trees will also produce a high-quality product that he can sell at the local market, helping to support his family and business.

“My father would be proud of what I have accomplished with our farm and my family will be happy that I can sell more products at market. I am very happy to have these new trees.”

As we looked out over the beautiful countryside, and Carlos pointed out various landmarks in the distance, I could sense how dedicated he was to his land and his country. To support reforestation efforts in El Salvador is an honor and we look forward to supporting many more farmers in the future.

To learn more about our work in El Salvador please visit our wesbite.

Happy Holidays from Trees, Water & People!

Happy Holidays 2013

During this holiday season, we want you to know that we appreciate your support of our organization! At Trees, Water & People (TWP), we work with communities that are facing very difficult environmental and social challenges. Our staff and partners are connecting local people to important resources and tools for natural resource conservation and economic development.In 2013, generous donors helped fund many projects, including:

  • Building the Sacred Earth Lodge – a one-of-a-kind renewable energy training facility for Native Americans
  • Construction of clean cookstoves in Guatemala to reduce deforestation and indoor air pollution
  • Helping hundreds of rural families in Honduras gain access to solar lighting technologies
  • Training for 300 Haitian farmers in sustainable agriculture and watershed protection
  • Providing healthy, organic produce to Lakota families living on the Pine Ridge Reservation
  • Producing 50,000 trees in our community tree nursery in El Porvenir, El Salvador

As we make plans for 2014, we hope you will consider supporting our innovative, community-based programs that are helping people and the planet!

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Development from the Ground Up

community tree planting central america

Our unique Community-Based Development Model is based on the philosophy that the best way to help those most in need is to involve them directly in the design and implementation of local environmental and economic development initiatives. This creates ownership, involvement, and financial sustainability well into the future. Our proven development model of training and execution, coupled with an enterprise approach, engages and inspires local residents to preserve their precious natural resources.

community based development

For over a decade, we have been working in partnership with national and international non-governmental organizations, community organizations, businesses, government entities, private foundations, local leaders, and community members. Our projects have been well-received in communities throughout Latin America and on Native American Reservations in the United States because we engage with local people and respect local culture.

Learn more! Click here to see an example of our community-based model in action.

Warm Wishes from El Salvador

We recently received this letter from Armando Hernandez Juarez, our long-time partner in El Salvador and Director of Arboles y Agua para el Pueblo. Armando is a leader in environmental conservation in Central America and we are honored to work with him.  His words meant so much to all of us here at Trees, Water & People that we thought we would them with you too!

(Letter translated by Sebastian Africano)

clean cookstove El Salvador
TWP’s International Director, Sebastian Africano (left) and Armando Hernandez Juarez (right) stand with a clean cookstove beneficiary in El Salvador.

Dear Richard Fox and our family at Trees, Water & People,

My sincere congratulations on celebrating 15 years of achievements, contribution to the environment and thus to this land that gives us life, food and clothing.

What better way to celebrate 15 years of TWP than with the satisfaction we get from raising the dignity of the people whom we support with your projects, and with the tireless effort and human sensitivity with which the TWP family does its work.  

On this occasion I also take other opportunity to warmly greet another of the pioneers of this work, I refer to Mr. Stuart Conway; a great benefactor and visionary, as his efforts have led to concrete works in our country El Salvador, benefiting a large number of families and communities through the establishment and production of countless trees that have protected groundwater resources, climate and forest recovery in general, as well as the provision of stoves that have actually contributed to improving the socioeconomic conditions of families have benefited from this project.

I do not want it to go unnoticed that the unconditional efforts of the TWP family have also helped reduce pollution levels and therefore prevent infectious diseases in families and communities who have been favored with latrines projects.

It is gratifying that our work in El Salvador through TWP leaves a trail of impact in communities and even public and private institutions and service organizations such as the Peace Corps Office who use our support to develop projects that benefit the target population of their programs.

Trees, Water & People Family, may the fifteen years that we celebrate on this occasion be multiplied continually.

Respectfully, if you will allow me, receive my thanks for being part of TWP.

Attentively,

 Armando Hernandez Juarez