Carol Pfankuccche, director of the Palisades-Malibu YMCA and also president of the Pacific Palisades Rotary, joined a group of Rotarians from Los Angeles on a mission trip to Guatemala. She brought along her good friend (and Dollie Ambassador!) Pam Douglas … and two big duffle bags full of Dollies and TeddyBears! Here are some reflections they had about their trip:
“Last week, on behalf of the Palisades-Malibu YMCA, Pam Douglas and I joined 120 Rotarians from around Los Angeles, traveling in and around Guatemala City, providing much needed funding and labor to the very poor in this region.
Humanitarian projects included literacy programs in rural schools where children seldom progress beyond a sixth-grade education; installation of a water filtration system in a “lost” neighborhood without municipal sewer lines, and, pictured here, an environmental health program bringing stoves to the poor.
Stoves? Right. In Guatemala, there is a giant gap between rich and poor, and no middle class. The poor live in huts with dirt floors and tin roofs; many cook on fire pits in the middle of their huts. These fire pits require large amounts of wood, so the country is quickly being deforested; the wood costs families nearly 40 percent of their income; the fire pits cause a risk of burns for children and pulmonary disease for women and children who spend much of their time in the smoke. The lung damage from daily cooking in fire pits is the equivalent of smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. Leaders of The Education Center for Environmental Health in the village of San Lucas Tolimar took us into the huts to meet these families and help build inexpensive stoves with ventilation pipes that generate the same amount of heat with just a handful of kindling.
As the Rotarians fanned out to build stoves around the small village of San Lucas Tolimar, each group took a few Dollies Making A Difference. The Dollies helped to ease the tension as we strangers came into their homes.”