Nicaragua Oven Project - report from the field
PCV: Mariel Stotts
SDPCA provided $299.62 in funding in December 2014

Mariel's report, June 2015: I am happy to report that my counterpart and I, with lots of participation from the beneficiaries, completed the construction of all 15 of the ovens by the beginning of May!

On May 21st, we had a celebratory wrap up of the oven project. Each beneficiary was invited to bake something in her oven and bring it to share with the group. There were so many delicious treats, its a shame we couldn't package them up and send them to you all! We also invited them to share any difficulties they may be having with the ovens so that we could brainstorm solutions. Two women shared specific issues with the way their ovens were heating, and the others were able to provide suggestions which have since resolved those problems.

At the wrap up, I surprised the beneficiaries with a package of high-quality baking supplies purchased with your donations, and they couldn't have been more grateful! The package included a recipe book, and in July we will be holding a follow up baking workshop to try out some of the yummy and healthy recipes that use easy to find and affordable ingredients, such as banana bread.

I have been visiting the homes of the bakers/beneficiaries, and although this is not helping my waistline, it has shown me that the project was a success and that your donations have been put to very good use. All beneficiaries report that they are using 50-60% less firewood and are baking faster than ever. My counterpart, for example, has been baking several times a week, and her baked goods are flying off the shelves. She has doubled her household income in the last month.

I am hoping to conclude this project in the next month since I have at last received permission to paint the environmentally-themed mural which I included as a way to include the greater community of San Rafael del Norte. The mural, which features the phrase "With these small hands we can change the world" will be painted on the wall of the local elementary school in the center of town. Rainy season has finally arrived here, so we will do our best, and I will send you a last update with photos once that is complete.