Updated: 29 August 2012
In Rwanda they had a partner in Cally Alles, the director of Sorwathe Tea Factory. Cally has organized the people into local associations and hosts trainings at the factory. Cooking with the sun is simple but people need convincing. Carboard and aluminum? Just a few hours to cook beans? No stirring and no burning? It's useless to tell a starving man to grow corn and "Don't cut the trees" won't do a thing for the environment when there's no alternative. Solar cooking is the solution in Central Africa where there's plenty of sun and little firewood. But there's another benefit.
In the countryside there are few villages. People live in scattered clay houses miles apart. Solar cooking associations give them a reason to get together. In fact, they were so inspired by Cally's work on their behalf that they wrote a song for him and performed it when we arrived.
News and Recent Developments
- August 2012: We are sorry to report that Wilfred Pimentel passed away on August 29, 2012.
- May 2012:Volunteers from the Rotary Club of Fresno, California, led by Wilfred and Marie Pimentel, teamed up with the Rotary Club of Tapachula Centenario, Mexico, to host a five-day integrated cooking workshop in Tapachula. This is the tenth grant project completed in Mexico by the Rotary Club of Fresno. Although only twenty students were expected to attend, ninety-one arrived on opening day to participate—a clear indication of the desperate need for affordable fuel-saving cooking devices in this region. Local instructors and expert solar cooks from Torreon and Oaxaca led the workshop. Participants learned to build three types of rocket stoves: mud and chopped grass, five gallon tin can, and sixteen brick, which were used to make tortillas. Students cut out cardboard sheets and glued them to pieces of aluminum foil to make solar panel CooKits. A variety of meat, vegetable and egg dishes were prepared with the CooKits along with desserts like pineapple upside down cake. Students also learned how to use WAPI’s to pasteurize water with a CooKit. Finally, the instructors showed their ninety-one students how easy it is to make a retained heat cooker with a pillowcases and crumpled newspaper stuffed into a woven basket. Read more...
- December 2010: The Pimentels greet you with news of our past year. The ”energy of the day” in May had us fly to Oaxaca and Salina Cruz for 2 weeks to teach and train women and a few men in the expanded art of Solar Cooking. We had the “thrill” of experiencing rebel groups blocking a highway (we were taken on a long detour over rutted cow paths by a young entrepreneur for $5) We taught an eager group of 20 in a mountain town of 800 people – getting there took 2½ hours on one LONG winding dirt road…it is amazing where this project of 15 years has taken us! In June we were in beautiful Montreal for 2 weeks for the International Rotary Convention in our now famous booth, meeting old friends and making new ones. Our 16 year project is making progress and spreading because of the dedication of many believers. In
- March 2008: As Rotary volunteers, Wilfred and Marie Pimentel travel the world organizing projects and promoting what they call “integrated solar cooking.” In this system, a solar cooker is used whenever possible, and a fuel-efficient stove is used the rest of the time. In either case, insulated heat-retention devices (“hay boxes”) maintain cooking temperatures after the pot is removed from the heat source. Water pasteurization is also encouraged, using a Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI) to determine when the appropriate temperature has been reached. Since learning about solar cooking in 1988 from Solar Cookers International, the Pimentels and the Rotary Club of Fresno, California, have worked with local Rotary clubs to spread these skills in nearly a dozen countries, including Armenia, Bolivia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. They are currently working on projects in Turkey, Uganda, Rwanda, and Mexico. In 2006 they trained 17 Peace Corps volunteers who are promoting integrated solar cooking in Armenia. Last year, the Fresno club joined with Solar Household Energy (SHE) to conduct workshops in Mexico. Recently, 50 sewing machines were purchased for solar cooking associations in Rwanda to speed the process of making insulation for hay boxes, which are then sold for a profit. Even youth are getting involved; over 100,000 WAPIs destined for overseas projects have been built by high school students in Rotary Interact clubs. In a recent on-line Rotary article, Wilfred Pimentel described the process of working with local Rotary clubs. “We go to a country at the invitation of a Rotary club president and ask him or her about Rotary club support, possible help from nongovernmental organizations, and the availability of foil and cardboard needed to make a simple cooker.” The Pimentels have been solar cooking promoters for a long time, and show no signs of slowing down. Maybe it’s because they know how important their message is to so many people around the world. “I've seen women take pots out of the cooker, and the steam hits them in the face, and they can't believe that the food is cooked,” said Marie Pimentel. “Many of the women don’t know what Rotary is, but they take your hand in both of theirs and look at you, and they say, ‘Thank you for coming.’”
- September 2007: Report on Oaxaca, Mexico project
- August 2007: Green and hot: Solar cooking a delicious science - The Fresno Bee
- April 2007: Longtime solar cooking advocate and trainer Wilfred Pimentel, along with Ken Goyer and Cynthia Wee, led a two-day integrated cooking workshop in Pambak, Vanadzor last August. They taught three technologies: solar cookers, fuel-efficient stoves and heat-retention cookers. With access to these complementary technologies, food can be cooked regardless of time of day and season, and with a maximum of overall fuel savings. The group demonstrated both panel-type and parabolic-type solar cookers, though the region’s altitude and climate limit the amount of solar cooking that can be done with simple solar cookers. Seventeen people from a number of Armenian villages attended the workshop, held at the Peace Corps training center. Each participant received a CooKit and educational literature. They plan to return to their villages and begin teaching others about integrated cooking. Contact: Wilfred Pimentel
- January 2007: Rotary Club gives solar cookers to Rwandan poor - The Fresno Bee
- August 2006: Longtime solar cooking advocate and trainer Wilfred Pimentel, along with Ken Goyer and Cynthia Wee, led a two-day integrated cooking workshop in Pambak, Vanadzor, Turkey. They taught three technologies: solar cookers, fuel-efficient stoves and heat-retention cookers. With access to these complementary technologies, food can be cooked regardless of time of day and season, and with a maximum of overall fuel savings. The group demonstrated both panel-type and parabolic-type solar cookers, though the region’s altitude and climate limit the amount of solar cooking that can be done with simple solar cookers. Seventeen people from a number of Armenian villages attended the workshop, held at the Peace Corps training center. Each participant received a CooKit and educational literature. They plan to return to their villages and begin teaching others about integrated cooking.
Audio and Video
|Spring 2007: YouTube video showing Wilfred and Marie's work in Rwanda|
- November 2002: Audio interview with Wilfred Pimentel and Forest Kaser