By Karen Secord

UPDATE: Karen is in Central America ~ and she’s keeping a blog at this address:

As you might already know, I am going to Guatemala in February to volunteer with the Guatemala Stove Project (

The Guatemala Stove Project (GSP) helps to improve life in rural Guatemala by building masonry stoves. The project began in response to a request for help from CEDEC, an indigenous non-profit group working in Guatemala’s Altiplano (Western Highlands). CEDEC saw the need for masonry cook stoves in the communities they serve, but residents lacked the human and material resources to build such stoves for themselves. Fires, blindness and toxic smoke in homes was the motivation. The Guatemala Stove Project was born out of this need.

Since those first six stoves in 1999, the GSP has expanded rapidly, building 25 stoves in 2000, 195 in 2001, 535 in 2002. In the spring of 2003 the thousandth stove was built and now we have built over 3500 stoves.

Worldwide it is estimated that there are 2 million premature deaths each year caused by cooking smoke.
Traditional cookstoves in developing nations rely on biomass, including wood, dung, and coal. They produce unfiltered toxic smoke that harms the nearly 3 billion people who have no alternatives for cooking fuel.

According to the World Health Organization these unintentionally toxic cookstoves affect women and children the most because they are primarily responsible for cooking and gathering fuel, often having to walk far distances in dangerous barren areas to scrape together the minimal amounts of fuel available.

The solution is simple, effective (for both health of individuals and the environment) and financially feasible with the help of communities like ours. One cookstove costs only $225 to build.

We are having our annual fundraiser on November 13 at 7pm. It promises to be an evening packed with food, music and culture from Guatemala.  All of the money raised at this event and every penny donated goes to help the people of Guatemala.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Purchase a ticket and attend the GSP fundraiser (see below).
  • Donate an item for the Silent Auction (open this pdf for info on the auction).
  • Purchase a cookstove by donating $225 (and you will receive a photo of the family you are helping with their stove after our trip in February.)
  • Or, make a donation of any amount to the cause.

Call or email Karen Secord for more information, to purchase tickets, or to make a donation: