Last updated: March 8, 2010
My name is Max Ozimek and I am 13 years old and a 7th grader at Incarnate Word Academy in Parma Heights, Ohio. This year I did a school science project on solar cooking. I did a lot of research and the Solar Cooking Archive was very helpful. I received an “honorable mention” for the project at my school, and an “excellent” rating from the Ohio Academy of Science Awards.
Most importantly, since September I have been volunteering at Holy Family Home, a hospice facility in Parma, Ohio. I have become friends with the chaplain at Holy Family who works with the dying people. His name is Fr. Alexander Inke and he is from a village by the name of Obia, located in Zeu, district of Nebbi in Uganda, Africa. In February I was at Holy Family visiting with the patients. Fr. Inke was telling my family about his life in Uganda. I found out that one of his brothers died from drinking contaminated water, and he has also lost another brother and three other family members due to illness or disease. Fr. Inke’s mother is now raising 8 grandchildren and she spends a lot of her day looking for wood to make a fire to cook and for water to give her grandchildren. This made me very sad and reminded me of what I wrote in my report on why using solar cookers (and solar water pasteurizers) would be helpful to many people in Africa. I know now that if more people can use solar cookers they can spend more time working, getting an education and being with their families. The women will also be safer and the environment will be better.
Fr. Inke did not know that I have been studying solar cooking since last October. When he was telling me about all this I was thinking that I could help. Fr. Inke will be going to Uganda at the end of April 2008 for two months. He told me that it is one of his dreams to have clean water for his village and to build a small clinic where people can go to get help for medical problems.
I have started a project to introduce solar cooking to the people in Fr. Inke’s village. There are 600 people there at least although Fr. Inke thinks more refugees from Congo have been coming to his town recently. I am raising funds and working with the people at Solar Cookers International to do this. Fr. Inke will take a few solar cookers home with him when he visits Uganda, and I am trying to set up a meeting with a man in Uganda who is very active in promoting solar cooking, Mr. Kawesa Mukasa. I am also raising funds to purchase solar cookers, supplies and water purification indicators to show if the water is safe to drink. I also will raise funds to have a solar cooking trainer come from Kenya to begin to show the people in Fr. Inke' village how solar cooking might be beneficial to them.
Please feel free to contact me and my mom Mary Lou Ozimek if you would like information on my project or if you want to support me. I am very excited to be working on this project and I hope my work will make a difference.
Thank you for your interest,
News and recent developments
- April 2009: VENTURE: Integrated Solar Cooking - genV Campaigns
- June 4, 2008: A lot has happenned since March! The project has grown and I am meeting the Solar Cookers International programs director Karyn Ellis in Uganda, along with a colleague from Texas, Mark Cotham. I am excited that we made contact with Kawesa Mukasa from Solar Connect Association of the capital city of Kampala, and that together we will put on a 5-day workshop to introduce solar cooking in Obia. Another part of the project will be solar water purification. I am going to conduct tests that will show which sources of water are safe to drink, using the technology that Bob Metcalf from SCI developed. My goal for the 2 weeks I'll be in Uganda is to understand the challenges that the people face and try to figure out a way to implement a sustainable solar cooking and solar water pasteurization program if that will help! I am going to be collecting a lot of information over these next few weeks in June. Wish me luck! Thanks for your support. Max Ozimek
- July, 2008: I am happy to report that our June, 2008 solar cooking trip to Obia, Uganda was a success! There is a lot of work to be done yet, but the 36 participants we trained are eager to learn and to train others on the new technology. We held a four-day workshop, June 11-15, focused on integrated solar cooking, which included the use and construction of solar cookers, fuel-efficient stoves, and haybaskets. I spent a day learning how to use a portable microbiology kit and testing drinking water sources in and around Obia reported the results at the workshop, and helped demonstrate how to use a solar cooker to pasteurize water. We distributed 60 solar cookers, but our challenge now will be to help provide the necessary supplies and continued training to the participants – our new “trainers” – until a self-sustaining solar cooking program is developed for long term. Keeping the momentum going will be a priority. Here is a day-by-day look at our workshop, and a link to more pictures:
Obia-Zeu Solar Cooking Workshop Timeline (2008)
6/8/08 We arrive in Entebbe, Uganda – 8,000 miles from home! Fr. Alexander Inke from Obia, Uganda (and Parma, Ohio) welcomes me at the airport. For the first time I meet Karyn Ellis, International Program Director for Solar Cookers International, and solar cooking enthusiast Mark Cotham, from Houston, Texas.
6/9/08: I get to tour the office of Solar Connect Association in the capital city of Kampala, Uganda. I had never seen WAPIs (water pasteurization indicators) being made before, out of empty pen casings. We meet director Kawesa Mukasa and senior trainer Olivia who will be making the trip to Obia with us.
6/10/08: The truck is packed full of supplies: cardboard, foil, pans, solar cookers, stoves, plastic bags, haybaskets, some food – almost everything we need for the workshop. We will find out later that none of these supplies are available locally in the village or the immediate area surrounding it (challenge #1 – where will we find supplies?). We arrive in Obia around 11 p.m., after a 520 mile drive, a good portion of which has been on dirt roads (challenge #2 – how will we transport the supplies?). About 200 people from the village are waiting to greet us with song, dance and welcoming words.
6/11/08: We take a walking tour of the village and I collect water samples from 4 different water sources. I get to see firsthand how women gather firewood, cook over open fires, and collect water for drinking, cooking and bathing. Our group spends the afternoon planning for the workshop, which we will hold for the next 4 days, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. We are hoping for a sunny days.
6/12/08: Workshop, Day 1 – We arrive early at the community center to begin set up. Olivia prepares the food for the solar cookers. Fr. Inke introduces the group and welcomes everyone. He explains that the 36 participants, from Obia and villages in the surrounding subcounty of Zeu, Nebbi District, are a diverse group, from different religions, backgrounds, professions and education. The government officials and local leaders welcome us and encourage the participants to take advantage of this opportunity. Karyn Ellis uses her laptop to give a PowerPoint presentation overview of integrated solar cooking. Kawesa speaks about Solar Connect Association and its work in southern and central Uganda, and then Olivia begins instruction on solar cooking basics. Around lunchtime we take a break and check on the food that is being cooked outside, and the participants enjoy their first solar cooked meal. The rest of the afternoon is spent learning the fundamentals of solar cooking. I should mention that today, like every other day of the training, 100 or more men, women and children crowd into the community center “just to see.”
6/13/08: Workshop, Day 2 - We break into smaller groups to spend the day constructing solar cookers out of cardboard and aluminum foil…we even make the glue from cassava. The participants, our future instructors, are enthusiastic and motivated. We are glad for another sunny day. That evening Karyn Ellis teaches me how to test the water samples we have collected, and we prepare to present the results at the workshop. We also meet the 4 individuals from AidAfrica, who have arrived from Gulu, Uganda, to teach us all about fuel efficient stoves used to conserve firewood.
6/14/08: Workshop, Day 3 - This morning I talk some about my solar cooking science project, and how meeting Fr. Inke and learning about life in the village was the start of the Obia Solar Cooking project. I spend more time talking about the water testing that Karyn Ellis and I were doing in and around the village, and the different sources we visited to collect the samples. Karyn presents the official results of the testing, and Olivia demonstrates how solar cookers can be used to pasteurize water using water pasteurization indicators to make it safe for drinking. The participants, especially the local health officials and community leaders, are interested in obtaining portable microbiology kits and learning how to test the water themselves (challenge #3 – expanding the project to include water testing training, and finding the funding).
Freda, Bum, Esa and Priscilla of AidAfrica spend the rest of that day’s training instructing all of us on the fuel-efficient stove technology, known as the rocket stove. They each have a part in building the stove out of bricks made from locally available clay (or, the material from anthills) and insulating the stoves. We learn that the stoves need only a few sticks for a hot fire, compared to the large bundles of firewood. Olivia also demonstrates how the use of insulated haybaskets can finish cooking a meal when clouds appear, or to further conserve firewood.
Karyn reiterates the basic integrated solar cooking method: use solar cookers when the sun is shining, use fuel-efficient stoves when the sun is not available, and use haybaskets to conserve to finish cooking a meal.
6/15/08: Workshop, Day 4. Today is graduation day! It is a Sunday, and today we decide to hold the workshop in front of the community church and school. Everyone, trainers and participants included, arrives early to set up the cookers (and a rocket stove and haybaskets) and prepare a solar dish – cabbage, greens, meat, corn meal, hard boiled eggs, rice and beans are all on the menu. After church several hundred people gather around to watch the cooking demonstration and watch the new solar cooks show what they have learned. The meal is shared with the participants, government officials and local leaders, and the children. Each of the participants receives a solar cooker kit, cloth storage bag, and a WAPI at the graduation ceremony. The ceremony ends with speeches, a song of appreciation sung by the participants, “Let’s All Work Together”, and promises that we will keep working together on the Obia Solar Cooking project. Max Ozimek
Contact & Contribute
c/o Mary Lou Ozimek
19822 Tanbark Lane
Strongsville, Ohio 44149
Contributions to support the project are welcome. Donations are not tax-deductible but are very much appreciated! All funds contributed will go directly to the project.