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Home > Interpreter Magazine > Archives > 2009 Archives > January-February 2009 > Haitians conserve resources with solar cooking

A Volunteer in Mission and Haitian recipients work together to assemble solar ovens. Photo courtesy of Rick Jost
The World is My Parish

Haitians conserve resources with solar cooking

By Joey Butler

In the impoverished nation of Haiti, people lack for many basic necessities. But a United Methodist missionary is helping the Haitians to harness something they have in abundance: sunlight.

Missionary Rick Jost directs Solar Oven Partners, an outreach of the Dakotas Conference Board of Global Ministries. The group provides inexpensive solar ovens, which tap the energy of the sun to prepare food.

One of the most deforested countries in the world, Haiti's economic woes and massive environmental destruction have led to the pillaging of virtually all its trees. They provide charcoal and cooking fuel. Solar ovens offer an alternative to cooking with charcoal, allowing the few remaining trees on the island to be saved and reforestation to begin.

By using solar ovens, Jost says, Haitians can save up to 30 percent of their food and cooking budget. The ovens can also be used to pasteurize water. Access to safe drinking water is another issue in Haiti.

"Whenever there is sunshine in this land of abundant sun, Haitians can cook their food with no cost for fuel, and without cutting trees, which pollutes the air and water, exposes the land to erosion and has tremendous health and economic fallout," Jost said.

Haitian Project Director Montas Joseph forms dough to bake French bread during the solar cooking seminar at Chomey, Haiti, November 2008. Photo courtesy of Rick Jost
The project originated during a 1999 Volunteers in Mission trip to Haiti to build schools. Jost's team took along a few solar ovens as an experiment, and the concept was well received. Jost then presented the idea to the Dakotas Conference.

In 2000, the General Board of Global Ministries began its 10-10-10 missionary program, and Jost was invited to develop the solar oven project.

The nine-year-old project is now a project of The Advance, a designated giving program of global ministries, as well as a Dakotas Conference Advance ministry. In more than 30 trips, 2,400 ovens have been distributed. "We could provide many more ovens if we had the resources," Jost adds.

Jost acknowledges, "The support is outstanding. People experience the mission and bring that message home to their conferences, so we've had widespread support across the connection."

Each solar oven costs about $100 to produce. Through Solar Oven Partners, Haitians can buy one for $5 by attending a three-day course led by Montas and Raymonde Joseph, a Haitian husband-and-wife team employed by the organization.

"The solar oven is a miracle for Haiti," Montas Joseph said.

For more information, visit www.gbgm-umc.org/solarovenshaiti.

--Joey Butler, managing editor, Interpreter and Interpreter OnLine.
Some information from United Methodist News Service reports.

How to give

Gifts to The Advance may be sent to:

General Advance #418812: Haiti Solar Ovens
Advance GCFA
PO Box 9068, GPO
New York, NY 10087-9068

Donate by credit card by calling (888) 252-6174 or at www.advancinghope.org.

 




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