BRICKS TO BREAD COSTA RICA PROJECTS
MARIA GAZO – SAN JOSE DE UPALA
Upala is rural and agricultural, an area that is one of the largest producers of beans nationwide. Its extensive plains are ideal for raising beef and dairy cattle. People who live in Upala are limited to working in agriculture. Men are given the jobs fixing fences and working with cattle as farm helpers. For women there are very few sources of employment. Only if a woman has something to sell can she earn a bit of money.
Doña Maria makes bread with her daughter, Martha, and her grandson, Gerald, accompanies her on her motorbike to sell. Her granddaughter, Belkis, helps her pack all of baked goods and then goes with her grandmother on foot to make deliveries. The family works together out of love for Doña Maria, grateful that when she makes bread she can pay for electricity, water and other household needs with the profits.
María’s old oven was a health hazard. Built from mud and concrete, it was crumbling and leaving soot and debris on food. Worse, the oven had no chimney so María was breathing in the smoke. Bricks to Bread’s in-country oven build team and local volunteers constructed María’s new oven, which she calls a “precious gift.” In a letter of thanks, Maria shared these words: I currently depend 100% on my bread sales…I have obtained my food, clothing, electricity, water, medicine…and everything that surrounds me through my oven… I don’t know how to read or write, but I do know how to handle money. When I make my sales I always set aside the necessary money to buy raw materials for my next sale, in this way I don’t go a week without making sales. …Sometimes I think, “What would my life be without my oven, if I don’t know how to make money in any other way.” The lifetime of an earth oven is approximately two years and thanks to you today I have an oven for the rest of my life. My heart does not fit with joy. …I have given a thousand thanks to God for having given me this precious gift through Bricks to Bread.