The Solar Health and Education Projects (SHEP) principal mission is to assist local community leaders in villages and remote areas through workshops to recognize and promote harvesting the sun's energy to cook and pasteurize water. Village workshops are funded by SHEP and create an awareness of the low cost and the high health and environmental benefits of solar cooking and water pasteurization.
Workshops target community group leaders, teachers and health providers within a village to participate. Workshops have included chiefs, teachers, women's groups, teachers in training and CBO caregivers. New in 2009 was a request from Game rangers whose families were in danger of wild animals while collecting firewood. They wanted an alternative to firewood!
In the majority of cases those trained become trainers and the project spreads on its own. SHEP receives requests for further workshops from trainers. SHEP has solar teams in Northern Kenya, South Africa and Western Zambia. It has run workshops in Indonesia and India as well.
Workshops are planned to be simple, to the point, "hands on" and to have all participants come away not only with the knowledge of solar cooking but a cooker they made themselves.
SHEP, when possible, uses donated waste materials from the Tetra Pak Company. Participants have the chance to cut out and make their own cooker at no cost. They are asked to pay a very small amount for a lid and given the paint to paint it black. If a participant wants to forfeit having lunch, the cost of lunch is put towards buying a commercial Cookit. SHEP then offers a loan and completes the payment. So some participants go home with TWO cookers!
SHEP receives donations from individuals, private foundations, and International Schools choosing to fund a grassroots project. The budget is low and usually 8 to 10 workshops are held within a year.
Recent news and developmentsEdit
- December 2012: The Solar Health and Education Project (SHEP) has created a project at a community-based nursery school in Livingstone for unschooled mothers, whose only source of income has been illegally making charcoal. During the course of the program, they learned how to make and use the CooKit solar cooker as an income generating activity, and formed themselves into a registered group called Solar Ventures (SV). They have been holding SHEP-funded workshops at clinics, schools, agricultural shows, where they won 1st place for the most interesting booth in 2011, and government-sponsored functions on energy and conservation. They were invited to Lusaka to run a three-day workshop for a UK based NGO. Their life is certainly different now since their introduction to solar cooking.
- November 2010: Beneficiaries of SHEPs programs, Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) provide care during pregnancy and childbirth. According to SHEP representative Alison Curtis, these women often lack hot, sanitary water for deliveries. With just the power of the sun, simple solar cookers can provide hot water while also destroying disease-causing pathogens in a process known as pasteurization. SHEP has assembled four TBA kits consisting of a solar CooKit, a black pot lid, a transparent heat-resistant plastic bag to insulate the pot, and a 30-centimeter length of thick green string. The kits are loaned out monthly, on a rotating basis, to four TBAs. A knot is tied in the green string for each birth that the kit was used for, providing data on how often the kits are used and how long they last. When the kits are returned at the end of the month a team leader documents the number of uses. The initial TBA workshop took place in Wamba, Kenya in May 2009. A second workshop this summer attracted twice as many women.
- August 2010: The Solar Health and Education Project (SHEP) began in 2007 to fund solar cooking workshops in rural areas of Zambia, and also with the urban poor in the Livingstone area. The main goal of the workshops was to introduce solar cooking methods to the community in a sustainable fashion. Most at the workshop have little education, but are completely sold on harvesting the sun for their daily needs of cooking fuel. The team, with direction from Alison Curtis, developed a system to appoint a local leader at the workshop to follow-up with a group of participants to help and encourage using the new cookers. Now, three years later, the solar team has ten excellent leaders who take turns spreading the solar news by setting up at shows, events, museum gatherings, school playgrounds, clinics and so on. These unschooled women leaders have learned to fill in a simple form, which SHEP developed with their input, so they have the knowledge to complete a request for funds themselves. The headmaster at the nursery school reads these requests and grants the money from SHEP to hold the demonstration or workshop. The women do the shopping, keep receipts, hold the event and then fill in a very basic report. They are paid for their workshop day @ $2.00 per event. The women are quite resourceful, as they have learned to make Cookits from cartons and reflective Crisp wrappers found in the trash.
- May 2009: The Solar Health and Education Project funded a very successful workshop run by Manda Chisanga and Crosby Menzies in Mfuwe, Zambia in June 2009. Read project report.
- July 2007: Solar Health and Education Project (SHEP) reports holding workshops in both Zambia and Kenya for newly trained teachers preparing to go to remote villages on assignment. The workshops were five days long. The first day was used for basic education about solar cooking and solar water pasteurization, while the other four days were used to practice and implement solar cooking skills. The 70 participants all built their own solar cookers. Based on the success of these workshops two more have already been scheduled. SHEP has developed a relationship with Tetra Pak International — manufacturer of aseptic drink containers — whereby SHEP uses Tetra Pak’s excess foil-lined paper for solar cooker construction. (The foil-lined paper is printed in wide rolls, sometimes resulting in excess material begin generated.) According to SHEP, Tetra Pak is willing to accept proposals from other nongovernmental organizations that may want to use the reflective material as long as the material will be used for workshop participants to construct solar cookers.