Project Gettysburg-León or FUPROSOMUNIC (Spanish acronym for Solar Program Foundation for Nicaraguan Women) holds two-week workshops that train primarily poor, rural women how to build and use their own solar oven. The workshop also explores the use of the solar ovens, solar dryers and solar methods of water purification to produce dried fruits and teas that to be sold at local markets. They have been able to offer the workshops with the support from Project Gettysburg-León (PGL), a Sister City project supporting sustainable development between Gettysburg, PA and León, Nicaragua.
In addition to giving participants basic carpentry skills, a safer, healthier and more ecological way of cooking, and income-generating opportunities, the trainings serve as encounter groups for the women to share and address personal and community concerns. For example, in the very poor community of Monte Horet outside León, where more than half the homes are little more than shacks with walls of plastic tarp and cardboard, all 10 of the women involved in a solar oven workshop overcame issues of past personal conflicts to build their ovens. Not only were the women surprised at what they could do, but so were the men in the community. They didn’t think women were capable of doing such work!
As a result of the success of this training, with PGL’s assistance, there are now two future projects planned – a second solar ovens workshop to build 10 more ovens in Monte Horet, and a fund to be established for the women in both workshops to purchase wood-conserving stoves as a complement to the solar ovens. PGL and FUPROSOMUNIC will donate half the costs of the wood-conserving stoves (priced approximately $100 each), with the other half paid by workshop participants through a group loan that will be paid back over 10 months.
PGL and FUPROSOMUNIC also sponsored a one-day event at LaSalle College in León, a technical school that focuses on alternative energy. Monte Horet “graduates” taught college faculty how to construct a solar oven to be displayed at the college’s environmental fair, and the college staff were impressed with the community women’s professionalism and exacting standards. For the women of Monte Horet, it was a tremendous boost to their self-esteem, as they had never imagined themselves as teachers to college professors!
[This text was borrowed from http://www.gettysburg-leon.org/pgl/index.cfm/get-involved/solar-ovens/]
News and recent developments
- May 2013: The small Nicaraguan Women’s Solar Project Foundation FUPROSOMUNIC has, since 2006, installed 664 solar cookers in nine municipalities. Solar cooking saves money, reduces deforestation, and is healthier for women than breathing wood smoke. The group focuses on providing the poorest of the poor with stoves discounted as much as 90%, thus requiring an investment on the part of the women of as low as US$20 paid over eight months. The stoves can save about $13USD in wood purchases monthly. The program has already received two awards and has been nominated for the prestigious Global Energy Award. Like other solar cooking programs such as Solar Cookers International, the women construct their own cookers and learn how to use and maintain them under the direction of FUPROSOMUNIC. Solar cookers are useful for other things besides cooking food such as drying fruit and medicinal plants, disinfecting clothing, and purifying water. Some of the women are using the stoves to dry nuts and other products to sell. The foundation was formed through Swiss aid in partnership with a Nicaraguan sociologist. The biggest obstacle for the program is to overcome the initial skepticism of the women. But some are won over by their ability to easily and cheaply prepare traditional dishes, such as came en bajo [a traditional dish based on cooked beef and vegetables], that normally require a great deal of firewood to cook properly. Cooking on cloudy days or after sunset can be done on improved charcoal cookers also promoted by the Foundation. These cookers are efficient and allow for frying, which the solar cooker does not. - The Nicaragua Newsletter
- January 2013: University graduate students head to Nicaragua to help FUPROSOMUNIC - The students are part of a four-person team that will be helping the Solar Program Foundation for Nicaraguan Women, which supports the country's rural women via solar cooking stoves, to develop a plan to support the organization's efforts to develop a commercial enterprise. This spring, the students will use the experiences and information gained over the winter break visit to develop a business plan and break-even analysis of the organization's newest venture in their Social Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets class. Read more at CU-Boulder biz students visit Nicaragua for hands-on experience with FUPROSOMUNIC
- October 2011: Project Gettysburg Leon reports they have provided solar cookers, and taught solar cooking, to over 1100 people since they began workshops in 2004.
Articles in the media
- January 2013: CU-Boulder biz students visit Nicaragua for hands-on experience with FUPROSOMUNIC - dailycamera, Univ. of Colorado
c/o The Center for Public Service
Gettysburg College, Box 2456
Gettysburg, PA 17325-1486
FUPROSOMUNIC/Project Gettysburg Leon
Barrio Sutiaba, del Centro de Salud, 1 cuadra
arriba, 20 varas al sur
Tel.: +505 2313-1548
Mobile: +505 8730-9607