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Revision as of 17:50, May 6, 2013

I have been interested in Solar Cooking and heating since I was a kid. It’s always been a dream and never a reality. Since I moved to Mozambique in 1995 and saw the very great devastation of hard wood trees for the production of charcoal, I have desired to do more about getting solar cookers into people’s hands.

However cultural norms and "inability to change" has held people captive. In 1996 I built a proto type solar oven using "trash" around the house with some kids in our community. We managed to cook a few sausages in about an hour and a half. It was great fun and they were all amazed but it never went any where.

This year in August, I had a team of Danish volunteers come to help us with some cyclone relief/rebuilding in Vilanculos. (Cyclone Flavio - Feb 2007) We purchased materials (ply wood, aluminium foil, glass etc) for 50 stoves. We started out with 20 students (of all ages and sexes) and started with the basics. We used magnifying glasses to show the suns power to burn (each on their own hand - for a let me feel experience), we then used mirrors concentrated on ones persons face at a time, until they "flinched" and were declared out. We then discussed the cost of wood fuel and charcoal. Eventually I demonstrated my own solar stove by setting it up and cooking a pot of rice. I cheated a little by starting it off with boiling water from a thermos. When done each person took a taste and declared it good.

We then used templates to draw the pattern on the ply wood and had each person cut out and build their own stove. When they had finished we gave each one an oven bag with chocolate and rice crispies in it. Of course the chocolate melts in minutes. We reset the mixture in a bucket of water in the shade. It was a sight to see each successful stove builder walking around with their home made chocolate bar, munching happily.

We left material for another 30 stoves with some young men from a local church, with the mandate of making the rest of the stoves to give away to vulnerable ladies in the community (We had previously built 50 homes for those vulnerable ladies who lost their homes in the cyclone.) or to sell for their own profits. The choice was theirs.

I would like to do this program again and again with improvements for all the communities that we work in. (Initiating community schools and caring for AIDS orphans.) I would love to work with others who are interested in this kind of community development. Funding is always a problem, for us and the local communities. So although the stove saves them money, they do not have the initial lay out to purchase the materials to build themselves a stove. Most of our community schools charge a monthly fee of less than US$ 0.50 cents per child. For many parents this is an impossibility. So to go out and buy the materials for a good solar oven are way beyond their means.

I am searching for resources, people and funding as well as innovative ways and recipes to teach VERY rural communities the benefits of solar cooking.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Contact

Mark Harper
Project Manager
Bethel Project

mark@bethelproject.org

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