12 Summit County students travel to Honduras on service trip to install eco stoves
FRISCO — The Peak School and Summit in Honduras combined their resources for a service project to install eco stoves in the homes of villages in Honduras that mainly use open-flame fires for cooking. Over the October school break, Jessie Hoehn, director of admissions for The Peak School, took 12 students to Honduras to help with the project.
Melany Beck, freelance marketing consultant and owner of Love Grown Wellness and Marketing, said the students fundraised to help with the cost of the trip before joining the Summit in Honduras nonprofit. The students stayed with Hoehn in the town of La Entrada and traveled to the remote village of El Cedral to build and install the new stoves.
Summit in Honduras raised money for the students to build the first 10 stoves. Through a grant from The Rotary Club of Summit County, Summit in Honduras plans to install 85 more stoves. Beck explained that Summit in Honduras Executive Director Maggie Ducayet tends to find whatever needs are in Honduras and attempts to meet them through the three to four trips per year she sets up.
For example, the group is putting the finishing touches on a school it built, and according to Beck, it already is planning on an expansion as more children from nearby villages want to attend the school. The group also has done medical trips with nurses and EMT students from Colorado Mountain College and has organized a trip with members of the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District, which provided training.
On the most recent trip, the eco stoves the students installed are meant to improve the health of those who live in homes that use open fires as the sole source of cooking and therefore constantly breathe in smoke. The stoves are also meant to provide a more sustainable source of fuel.
“A lot of people cook inside of their homes or right outside of their homes, and even on the roof of the buildings it was all charcoal (covered), so the the eco stoves use way less wood and ventilate properly so there’s no harm,” Hoehn said.
Lukin Ascher, a student who was on the trip, said that while she had never installed a stove herself, she was able to pick up the process quickly.
“It was a lot easier than you’d think,” Ascher said. “We did get to see how happy it made people.”
Hoehn said she felt a trip like this was very important for a group of teenagers from Summit County, as they were able to see a place that is different from home.
“Growing up in Summit County is like growing up in a bubble, so I think exposing these kids to a less economically developed country was really eye opening, and I think they learned how lucky they are to be born where they were born,” Hoehn said. “I think they also learned how to support people and just because our lives are different doesn’t mean that our lives are better.”
When the group debriefed, Hoehn said the students reflected on how the Honduran people do things differently but that doesn’t mean it’s worse.
“It was really eye opening, and I’m so glad I got to go,” Ascher said. “There’s really no way to describe what it was like.”
Ascher said there was a language barrier, as the local Hondurans speak Spanish. Ascher said she is learning a Chinese language, so she couldn’t communicate verbally with the locals, but she said some of the other students spoke some Spanish and helped facilitate interactions between the group and the community.
“Most of them were pretty shy,” Ascher said. “They might have been intimidated by our differences, but by the third or fourth day, we all started to get along.”
While Hoehn expressed that the Honduran villagers already were very self-sufficient, she felt the stoves made a positive impact on their health and environment.
“In building these stoves, we’re able to help a whole village,” Hoehn said.
Aside from their work building the stoves, the students also had the opportunity to attend a fiesta and tour the Mayan Ruins of Copan.
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