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Last week, HomeBiogas installed twelve backyard biogas systems and two HomeBiogas Toilets in a small town of Guatemala called Jalpatagua. The project was in cooperation with the Guatemalan-Israel Fund for Investment and Development in Guatemala and the Guatemala National Lottery, both of which sponsored the systems in honor of the President of Guatemala. HomeBiogas co-founder and chief scientist, Yair Teller, along with three HomeBiogas distributors (Barry Cooper from Mexico, Tomer Sagee from Belize and Leandro Toledano from Brazil), spent the week in Jalpatagua in order to execute the community project.

The project was a success all around, proving to be a life-changing experience not only for the local people who received the biogas systems, but also for the HomeBiogas team, which felt incredibly welcomed by the community.

“It was amazing how families reacted to our presence… they received us very happily because they saw how HomeBiogas could really benefit their lives and economy. It feels great to know that you’re helping people and changing their lives, but also helping the environment by doing something very little that makes a huge difference.”Barry Cooper, Mexico distributor

MEETING THE NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY

Guatemalan officials, Jalpatagua community leaders, and the local hospital worked in conjunction to determine their need for a solution such as HomeBiogas. They were mainly concerned about the community norm of cooking on dangerous, wood-burning stoves and the lack of access to waste infrastructure. Not only can it be costly and time-consuming for families to obtain wood, but the smoke that it releases when burned contains gases and particulate matter that pose great health risks to those who breathe it. According to the World Health Organization, millions of people die prematurely every year from indoor air pollution associated with wood-burning stoves.

They were also concerned about community members having to defecate in open spaces, like the forest. To learn more, the HomeBiogas team asked everyone to complete a base-line survey about their local lifestyle. From this, they learned that most people dealt with their trash by burning it, which is a hazardous practice that causes air pollution and serious health effects.

As a solution, HomeBiogas provided not only clean burning energy, but also a sustainable solution for food waste, animal manure, and now human waste. HomeBiogas’ brand new HomeBiogas Toilets, two of which they gave as gifts in Guatemala, will provide a dignified solution for human waste in Jalpatagua. For most townspeople, it was their first time using a toilet, but they welcomed it in place of current practices which they found to be inconvenient and unpleasant, not to mention an environmental health hazard. Additionally, the liquid fertilizer (which is the second byproduct of the HomeBiogas system) will serve as a great asset to this community, where many people make a living from farming the land.

INSTALLATION PROCESS

The week began with a thorough training session from the HomeBiogas team at the local hospital. They wanted to be absolutely positive that everyone who would receive a system knew exactly how to install it, use it, troubleshoot, and understand its benefits. Everyone received hands-on practice setting up the system before going home to set up their own.

In total, twelve systems and two HomeBiogas Toilets were donated. Ten of these went to homes chosen by a community leader, one to a local school of agriculture, and the last to the hospital itself, which generates food waste from feeding its patients.

When it came time for the new HomeBiogas owners to begin assembling their new appliances at home, the HomeBiogas team was amazed by the sense of community that they witnessed—friends and neighbors all came together to lend one another a helping hand. Others passed by and saluted them for bringing something so special to the town, and almost everyone asked how they could get their own! Although HomeBiogas 2.0 is intended to be relatively simple to install, it still came as a surprise that they were able to install all twelve systems in just two days, thanks to the joint forces of the community. Yair noticed that everyone seemed to be very proud of what they were doing.

THE HOMEBIOGAS BIO-TOILET

It was also a proud moment for the HomeBiogas team, which has been working tirelessly to test and design the HomeBiogas Toilets for over a year now. The first of its kind has been used successfully in their offices for the last 6 months but Jalpatagua is the first time the HomeBiogas Toilets have been involved in a project.

The HomeBiogas Toilet connects directly to the HomeBiogas biodigestor, turning the organic matter into into biogas that can be used for cooking, just as it does with any other type of organic waste. All you have to do is flush, and the waste will be delivered to the system for treatment. The HomeBiogas Toilet is completely off-grid, as it works using a strong, manual pump and does not require running water because it can be used with grey water. The sleek ceramic design makes it attractive for anyone wishing to live in a more sustainable manner, so the team is hopeful that they will be seeing many types of households adopting these revolutionary toilets in the future.

LOOKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE

Barry, a HomeBiogas distributor in Mexico, left Jalpatagua with a new found sense of clarity and motivation for his mission to spread biogas in his country. His main focus is on bringing HomeBiogas to the small, rural villages of the country, not unlike this one, where this technology is most needed.

“I plan to improve the lives of Mexican citizens and our environment by making them aware of the impact they can have on the environment and economy. It will be a big cultural and conscious change in Mexico, but this can revolutionize the way we think, cook, live, and coexist with the environment.”

As for the rest of the HomeBiogas team, they hope that it is not long before they are called to return to Guatemala, which they will remember for its beauty and warm-hearted people. Their goal is to deliver more systems to Jalpatagua and the surrounding areas, where the need is the greatest. But until then, the team will stay in touch with the local hospital and its community leaders, and in a few months, they will circulate the very same questionnaire once more to assess the impact that HomeBiogas has had on their lives.

Yair Teller’s idea for HomeBiogas was founded upon his aspiration to make biogas technology more efficient and accessible to people around the world. His excitement grew from the potential that he saw for biogas to not only benefit the environment, but to substantially improve the lives of billions of people who practice unsafe cooking methods and lack waste infrastructure. It is HomeBiogas’ customer’s support which allows us to continue doing valuable work such as this. As a socially responsible company, HomeBiogas will continue to sponsor systems to be deployed in underserved communities. When you purchase a system, you are also helping to spread biogas technology to people around the world.

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