Olika Solar Cooking Distribution
Helping Maasai women in Southern Kenya
Since July 2005, Solar Cookers International (EA) has been working with women's groups in Kajiado to promote the use of solar cooking as a means to help poor women save their meager resources for other pressing needs. The women are generally Maasai women with their new CooKits, a small, portable type solar cookerwidows or single parents who need group support to move forward with their lives. Many are engaged in petty trade like selling vegetables, beads, milk and eggs.
(Me with the Maasai Women's Group & 2 local Peace Corps Volunteers in Kajiado, Kenya)
Several groups devised a way to purchase solar cooking materials for each member. Thus far, some have been able to purchase CooKits--a small, individual solar cooker. (See photo) However, this system is slow and many women are still waiting to receive the materials they need to either begin or fully realize the maximum benefit from solar cooking.
Because the purchasing process has dragged on for three years, SCI approached Lift Up Africa (LUA). They asked SCI to partner with several of these groups so the women could more quickly enhance their energy savings, thus improving their living standards.
On May 22, 2009 the first of these partnership distributions took place in Oloika. At the distribution event, SCI's Stella Odaba informed the women that through Lift Up Africa (LUA) they would now receive donations of the equipment they still needed, including hay basket fireless cookers.
Although the weather was a bit cloudy, some CooKits were set up to demonstrate pasteurizing water using the WAPI (water pasturization indicator.) The use of the fireless cookers was also demonstrated. While the members watched and timed the process, some rice was simmered for 5 minutes. Then the rice was transferred to the hay basket. Half an hour later a member went to check and found it cooked.
At the meeting Agnes Osoi, one of the group members, said:
"... solar cookers have been of great help to us....We can pasteurize our drinking water and our children don't suffer from diarrhea because of taking dirty water. FurtherSCI's Faustine Odaba demonstrating the hay basket fireless cookermore, it's safe around the child; I can leave the food to cook while I go to sell my beads in the market without any fears of fire accidents at home. Now with the addition of fireless cookers life will be even simpler for me. I will warm water at night, pour it in the ten liter plastic container then put it in the fireless cooker. In the morning my children have ready breakfast and warm water to bathe before school. I will not be exposed to smoke for so long; I will use firewood only when there's no sun and save some wood."
Other participants chimed in saying:
"The fireless cooker will bring peace in my home; my husband will always find hot food whenever he comes late. I don't have to wake up to light a fire to warm the food for him."
"...I am so excited and grateful to SCI and Lift Up Africa for their support in making our lives better!"
A vote of thanks was given by Esther Sekeyian, the group's chairlady. The women then gave gifts (beaded ornaments) in honor of Lift Up Africa and adorned Ms. Odaba with beaded ornaments, too.
The distribution to the 17 women who attended the event cost $700 (USD). This small grant will help an estimated 150 people.
Information on all of our solar cooking projects is available on LUA's Solar Cooking Wiki.
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