Riding a bright yellow school bus, 19 volunteers and a StoveTeam staff member set out to the community of Casa Blanca, about an hour-and-half drive North of Esteli, Nicaragua. Upon arriving, they were greeted by a large crowd of women anxiously waiting inside the community church.

Casa Blanca is one of the many poor communities ravaged by hurricane Mitch, a Category 5 hurricane in 1998. The scope of devastation from the hurricane provoked an influx of international experts and volunteers who provided disaster relief, including fuel-efficient cookstoves, to displaced families throughout Central America.

Elida Olivas, the Esteli Avanza Factory Sales Manager, grew up in Casa Blanca and vividly remembers the destruction the hurricane left behind, “we lost everything”, she said. Almost the entire community needed to be re-built, with some families having to leave their homes.

Having experienced the devastating loss of a home as well as the opportunity to lift herself out of poverty (via hard work and education), it has been a dream of Elida’s to support her community. Last month, the group of volunteers visited Casa Blanca and distributed a total of 48 stoves. The group had worked tirelessly and eagerly at the Avanza Ecocina Factory in Esteli constructing the stoves. Each volunteer shared a personal message and met face-to-face with the individuals directly benefitted from their efforts.

After returning to the US, the volunteers raised additional funds for 20 stoves to benefit even more families in Casa Blanca.

Our team trips immerse you in an exciting new culture. You will directly witness the impact that cookstoves have on people living in dire situations. To see available trips, visit our volunteer page.

You also have the opportunity to increase the impact of your trip by fundraising for additional stoves. To learn more, about our exciting fundraising platform that makes it easy to advocate and raise funds for stoves, contact Katie@stoveteam.org