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Volunteer Trip

Are you interested in traveling with us to Guatemala to build stoves and meet Maya families? This trip is intended for volunteers who wish to support the Project on an ongoing basis through fundraising and promotional activities.

Next GSP Annual Stove Building Trip – February 2024 - details to be finalized

Make A Difference!

Want to get your hands dirty, get sweaty and be bone-tired at the end of each day? Are you brave enough to witness poverty, see the implications of global issues first-hand in a developing country and have an intimate connection with Maya families?

Warning: If you answered yes to these questions, and you join us, you may never feel comfortable with your first world privilege again, and you may want to dedicate yourself to helping the communities with which you have engaged in Guatemala.

For over 20 years, The Guatemala Stove Project has organized an exposure/ stove building trip to the highlands of Guatemala. The trip usually takes place in the first half of February. While in Guatemala, you will meet Maya families in their homes and experience their traditional culture. You will learn of the difficulties faced by these resilient people, and you will help to construct efficient cook stoves that will add years to the lives of each family member by clearing the home of the air pollution created by indoor cooking fires. Your work will also help reduce CO2 in our atmosphere by reducing the amount of fuel burned by half. This helps slow deforestation, a significant contributor to spiraling greenhouse gas build up and local environmental problems.   

            For those who are tracking their own footprint, the stoves you help build will offset by over 20 times the CO2 you produce flying to Guatemala.

 We do not charge an organizational fee for participating in this trip. The trip is organized and guided by unpaid volunteers who generously donate their time and efforts to arrange accommodations, transportation, stove building activities and provide some travel advice.  Interested participants will be required to pay all their own costs:

  • travel expenses to and from Guatemala
  • shared transportation costs within Guatemala and to the rural Maya communities ($275CAD)
  • $25CAD fee for tools
  • lodging and food  

Cost of the above is approximately $2000 ***(these are pre-Covid costs from 2020 and are a guideline only)

Volunteers are also expected to fund/fundraise masonry cookstoves for at least 2 families ($700).

Working with others is a fundamental aspect of the GSP Exposure Trip. GSP volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds to work together for a short period of time. They will be living and working together in a variety of groupings – groups form to build stoves, prepare lunches, eat meals, share experiences from the day, plan excursions, etc. For cohesion and smooth functioning, it is important for all volunteers to put aside specific individual needs and wants and to work as a team to promote GSP values and goals.  

The Stove Building/Exposure trip lasts 8 days. Many volunteers choose to stay for the remainder of a second week in a self-guided fashion. We can help connect volunteers with similar interests and travel plans and can provide suggestions for transportation and lodging. This is an excellent option for both small groups or single travellers.

Photo - volunteers in the beautiful mountain-top village of Panimaquim, February 2020

If this sounds interesting/ important/ educational/ rewarding and/or necessary, then you may be a candidate to join us. We guarantee a life-changing experience!

 For more information please download our Volunteer Trip Handbook. To express an interest in an upcoming trip, please join us at one of our upcoming Guatemala Stove Project Volunteer Meetings, or contact one of our volunteers. Prospective travellers will need to apply and be successfully interviewed by Board of Directors members before being confirmed as a participant. An application and approval must be submitted and received prior to making travel plans. We also offer a Stove Building Workshop for new volunteers to learn basic masonry skills and understand the stove building process.  

To ask questions or to discuss the application process contact Phill Brackenbury at pcbrackenbury@gmail.com                                     

When GSP volunteers travel to Guatemala in February, they work with local masons to construct cookstoves in the homes of Maya families in the western highlands. There are elements of this trip that are physically strenuous. This region is at a comparatively high altitude (8000ft) which increases physical exertion. There can be extensive walking and many roads and paths are steep and difficult. If you have any pre-existing conditions (heart, blood pressure, respiratory, balance) or are a smoker or a senior, you should consult your physician before considering this trip.

We also recommend that if possible you  attend a few local meetings to learn about GSP.  An on-line application form can be submitted or printed and mailed in, which will be followed by an interview where expectations of both parties can be discussed. Guatemala is a developing country and there can be risks to travel in the region.

Stove Building Workshop

The annual day-long stove-building workshop, potluck and meeting will then help you prepare for the experience. It is held on a Sunday in January prior to the trip and takes place in Brooke Valley near Perth Ontario.

In the morning an experienced volunteer will demonstrate the baic steps of how to build a cookstove. You will help place the cement blocks, mix cement, “butter bricks” and use basic tools. Safe handling of materials and good body mechanics are emphasized. You will learn how the design of the firebox promotes efficient burning of the wood so that harmful emissions are reduced and less firewood is used. You won’t build a complete stove, but you’ll get a good sense of how it’s done.

The potluck luncheon is followed by a detailed discussion of what to expect and allows for individual questions and concerns to be addressed. You will meet fellow travellers, many of whom will become life-long friends due to your shared interests and commitment to helping others. You will also feel more prepared for the volunteer trip ahead. Enjoy!

Every year in February a group of North Americans from all walks of life travel to Guatemala and live together a unique and rewarding experience. They return to their comfortable homes inspired, with a new perspective on the world and how they can make a difference. 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Volunteer Testimonials


Changing the world one stove at a time”, says it all. The GSP brings awareness to the volunteers who then spread the word further. We have also changed the future and the outlook of several hundred North American volunteers who have travelled with us to Guatemala to build stoves over the 20 years of our project work. Every volunteer, even the most travelled, comes back with a new perspective on life. We’re proud of our accomplishments and of the leadership of our Board of Directors and Tom Clarke who built the first 6 stoves in 1999.    


“Working as a volunteer with the GSP has been an incredible experience. I have been able to travel to Guatemala, not just as a tourist, but as a friend of the Maya People, welcomed into their homes and allowed to share their daily experiences. It has also been a pleasure to share these adventures with a wonderful group of like-minded people at home here in Canada. Thanks everyone for the opportunities and the friendship‘.

– Liz  


“After making many trips to Guatemala and interacting with the Maya people over the past ten years, I am always humbled by what a strong resilient people they are. Considering the strife and daily struggles they continue to endure, I have a deep respect for their spirit and endurance. The children are absolutely beautiful, they learn the value of family and how to work to help the family succeed at a very young age. Even though the Maya have very, very few material possessions, they share a strong love of family, religious and cultural beliefs that we as individuals and a society can all learn from and benefit from. “

– Paul 



“My travels to Guatemala with the GSP have allowed an intimate connection with Maya families in western Guatemala – an area and culture very different from my own. This helps remind me that there are many different ways to live, and it challenges me to more carefully observe, listen and reflect upon many local and global issues. It inspires me toward action.”


It was so enjoyable to meet the Maya families and learn about their culture. Working with such a supportive and friendly group was an incredible experience


Most homes we enter are unlike anything imaginable here in Canada, often just 2 rooms. I feel like I am passing into a different century, simplicity and scarcity to the extreme. With much experience they keep it together and the women expertly coax the fire and cook their families’ meals on the stove. There is a directness to the tasks at hand and how they are executed – no flipping of switches here, or asking, “Siri set a timer”. It’s cooking with full attention to both food and fire. Soon enough the family will arrive for their meal and gather around the stove on their stools and dig in. Buen Provecho! 

–  Rita 

The Volunteer Handbook Is Here!

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