Warm greetings from Santiago Atitlan. I am writing to share news with you about the exciting developments at Tuik Ruch Lew / Helping the Earth. So many of you have spent time at my home, and we have spent long evenings discussing the environmental problems facing our Tzutujil community, beautiful Lake Atitlan and the Earth itself. With I wanted to bring you up to date on what has transpired since our last communication.
First and foremost, is the arrival of our Princeton in Latin America Fellow, Elijah Umek. I have to admit that my selection of Elijah from among the other applicants was based on a lot of intuition. We have so much in common: his home town is Washington, D.C., where he was a congressional page – shades of my years spent working on the Hill as a legislative aide; he studied political science (as did I) at Oregon State University and fell in love with the Pacific Northwest, which he now considers home – a smart young man indeed! At Tu’ik Ruch’ Lew (TRL), Elijah has brought all of the social media skills of his generation to bear to increase our effectiveness in communications. He is applying digital technology to generate a database for our client surveys to validate the effectiveness of our ONIL stove program. His ideas and experience are the perfect addition to enhance the effectiveness of our team.
We have worked for months to complete the requirements for “Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standards - SDVISta” with VERRA’s (formerly Verified Carbon Standards - VCS) new sustainable development claims credit program, which, in the future, can provide a source of income for our association in the same way that sales of carbon credits sold in the marketplace do for some organizations today.
We have just received the good news that we are invited to submit a pilot project proposal to the Swedish Government for our biodigester connected to toilets idea. We will demonstrate the benefits of using this system, which include generating methane gas for cooking, producing liquid and solid pathogen-free fertilizers and preventing fecal material from entering Lake Atitlan. The Universidad del Valle’s Center for Lake Atitlan Studies has determined that nitrogen from fecal material is the biggest cause of eutrophication threatening the very existence of the lake. In the near future, we will be launching a targeted fundraising event to support the initial stage of this important project, so keep a look out for a note coming your way soon. Elijah would like to keep you informed by sending out newsletters on a quarterly basis. We have a lot going on… sharing with our Tzutujil community the benefits of cooking with an ONIL stove and maintaining it and the introduction of a brand new technology in town that can actually help save Lake Atitlan.
In gratitude and optimism,