Medical Incinerator in Guatemala

A campaign by Brecht Deriemaeker

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Successfully funded on January 29, 2014
A campaign by Brecht Deriemaeker
3 campaigns, 0 contributions

The Beauty of Vivir en Amor

Vivir en Amor is a Belgian Ngo which built two local hospitals in two different small villages in Guatemala. It focuses on healthcare and education for local Mayan Indian Refugees. Vivir en Amor wants to help those Mayan minorities set up affordable and high quality healthcare in which they mainly invest in human capital: (extra) training for local nurses, traditional midwives and educators. So far the project has been really successful and profoundly changed the two villages (Yalanhuitz and Pojom) and their surroundings. The project is run by volunteers who dedicate their lives almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week towards helping people. My twin sister is one of them and I want to help her now.

Who I am

My name is Brecht and after graduating as electromechanical engineer, I have lived and worked at The Panya Project, Permaculture Education Center in Northern Thailand, for two years. During and prior to those two years, I have acquired many skills. With this beautiful skill set, I want to help my twin sister Hannah and her husband Maarten, who are in charge of the hospital in Yalanhuitz. They both are incredible, selfless human beings, who dedicate so much of their lives towards helping others.

This is the plan:

I want to build a high temperature incinerator for the hospital in Yalanhuitz so they can safely dispose of their most toxic medical waste. Studies have shown that when garbage is burned at temperatures over 800 degrees Celsius, chemical toxins and pathogens such as PBT’s are broken down and rendered harmless. This would be a major improvement to the hospital in Yalanhuitz.

Mark 8a Medical Incinerator

Right now, garbage in Guatemala is either burned or put in a landfill.
The problem with the current open air burning of trash is that it produces many pollutants, including but not limited to:

  • Dioxins (PBT’S): Backyard burning is of particular health concern because it produces significant quantities of dioxins. Dioxins are classified as persistent, bio-accumulative, and toxic pollutants (PBTs). PBTs are highly toxic, long-lasting substances that can build up in the food chain to levels that are harmful to human and ecosystem health. Much of the dioxins created and released into the air through backyard burning settle on plants. These plants are, in turn, eaten by animals or humans, which store the dioxins in their fatty tissue. As a consequence, animals at the top of the food chain (such as humans) tend to have the highest dioxin concentrations in their bodies. Dioxins can alter the fundamental growth and development of cells in ways that have the potential to lead to many kinds of impacts. These include adverse effects upon reproduction and development, suppression of the immune system, disruption of hormonal systems, and cancer.

  • Volatile organic compounds: People in the immediate vicinity of a burn barrel are also exposed to high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by open burning. Many VOCs are harmful to humans. Inhaling certain VOCs can lead to eye, nose, and throat irritation; headache; loss of coordination; nausea; and damage to heart, liver, kidney, and central nervous system.

  • Ash: Backyard burning also produces ash residue, which can contain toxic metals such as mercury, lead, chromium, and arsenic. These metals can be toxic when ingested. When a person ingests hazardous amounts of lead, for example, he or she may experience high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, kidney damage, and brain damage. Garden vegetables can absorb and accumulate these metals, if added to compost or soil, which can make them dangerous to eat. Children playing in the yard or garden can incidentally ingest soil containing these metals. Also, rain can wash the ash into groundwater and surface water, contaminating drinking water and food

The incinerator will become an example of how to deal with toxic waste in a safe manner. It will serve as a prototype for the region and as an educational proof of concept. The goal is to then train local people so they can build many more high temperature incinerators, not only in this one village but in many more villages in the region.

How You Can Help

Please, I need your help to generate enough money so I can move forward with this project (start building in February 2014).

The $3000 will be used for building the first incinerator in Yalanhuitz and set up a fund for building more incinerators in the region. In addition to that, the money will also be used to set up a training for local craftsmen in which they will learn how to build this incinerator.

I will donate all of my time and energy towards this project and I ask you for a financial contribution. This will enable me to help not only my sister but also Vivir en Amor and the local Mayan community.

Thank you so much, with all my heart.

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