Imagine using the same iPhone that came out in 2008 – the iPhone 1 or 2G! No new features, no new cameras, and no Siri to help you when you are lost. Of course not! We love advancements, and we expect all of our products to improve with each new edition. Imagine a company that never asked its clients, “How can we improve? What do you need?“
One of the pillars of Amigos for Christ is to strive for excellence. This means that we ask the hard questions, and then we listen to the answers of our clients, who are, in this case, the moms. “What do you need in the clean air kitchen? What design would help you? What do you like, and how can we improve?”
So welcome to Clean Air Kitchen 3.0! We have listened over the years… Barrel stove kitchens with chimneys for those who cook with large pots, a clean tiled area to prepare food, and now the newest model that was recently installed in the Lopez family’s house. The newest features include a stronger metal top and a more compact fire box that allows the fire to start quicker and burn hotter. The use of bricks for the chimney reduces the upkeep of the metal tube of the previous chimney. A new, flat area for tortillas and the classic rings on the stove fit different sized pots.
According to Melvis Mendez, the civil engineer who helped design this new stove, “We worked with women in the communities, and, based on their input, we decided to build with stronger, more durable materials that can handle higher heat and require less upkeep. I chose to test the first kitchen with the new design here in Monserrat [a neighborhood in Chinandega] because it gave us the opportunity to see how it worked with a daily heavy schedule.”
A local fritanga stand, a street food restaurant, feeds a lot of people, and this was the perfect way to evaluate the design in real time. As Amigos strives for excellence, testing the design is the opportunity to make changes and perfect the design if needed.
When the Lopez family was asked why they wanted to be a part of the Clean Air Kitchen program, the father, Julio, was quick to answer, “Oh the smoke! So much smoke! It’s awful.”
Maria Guadalupe, Julio’s his wife, also operates a neighborhood fritanga. She appreciates that this stove design enables her to cook in a kitchen that is smoke free and uses less wood, increasing her profit margin. It also alleviates fears that her grandchildren might be burned by the open fire.
Maria is an astute businesswoman and knows that she will be able to save money thanks to the reduced weekly wood costs. She plans to use her savings to buy tile floors for her home. Preparing about 300 meals a week, her kitchen will certainly get a workout, and she feels secure knowing that the design has been tested and refined.
I am continuously amazed by the creativity of people. With tools like iPhones, instantaneous music on Spotify, meals delivered to your door, and art flickering on our computer screens, God gave humans this amazing ability to evaluate, re-create, and re-engineer the world around us to make it better.
Self-evaluation is the only way we can evolve. It is the first step to humility and to improvement, so that we can arrive at the destination that God has for us. Maybe it’s not a designer at Apple, but instead an engineer named Melvis, who used his skills to encourage healthier lives and better economics. We know that God always wants us to make excellent any work of our hands.