A Sunny Solution in the Hunt for Fuel

A Typical Scene:

Sunrise, and clots of clouds scud over the sere Afghani landscape as figures - mostly women, children, and a few old men leading donkeys - trek a dusty distance to dig dry scrub for fire fuel. The bundles are heavy and scratchy on their backs and often obscure the bodies of the smallest, youngest human beasts of burden. It is a long, exhaustive, dangerous (think assault, rape, and kidnapping) duty for the most vulnerable ...

Elsewhere, women and children scoop the excreta of animal - cows, camels - with bare hands, deftly rounding it into cakes the size of dessert plates.

Men do not take to such tasks, and so the nimble fingers of ladies and little ones are assigned to hand-cake the dung. Later, the patties - often with etched designs - will dry on walls into pieces of fuel.

And when the cakes are ready, they will fuel the cook fires of the women, creating deadly indoor pollution that permeates walls, ceiling, and the family’s lungs with ingredients for pulmonary illnesses, including lung cancer - especially those of the mothers who stand and stir over the dung’s heavy-metal vapor. Outside, a brown caul of smoke shrouds the home.

The environmental, economic, safety, and health hazards associated with these two methods of fuel procurement are manifold, and nearly five years ago Global Hope Network International addressed those problems by initiating a solar cooker project, nature’s solution for a consistent, free, healthy, safe source of smokeless fuel.


The Challenge:

boxes of solar cookers

It was not a simple undertaking. Given the distribution location, logistical lags were expected, but not the ones that showed up with the complexities of a Gordian knot.

“The cookers spent more than two years in regional customs, accruing incredible charges, and then six months at a border. Then, nine months in the basement of our GHNI-Afghanistan office. Because of security concerns, they just sat there,” says Jeff Latsa, GHNI Field Strategy Coordinator.

Finally, thanks to the indefatigable patience, determination, and ingenuity of GHNI field workers, the distribution process began, and by July 2015 meaningful change had come to hundreds of families.


The Accomplishments:

Consider *Ali Mohammed, 65, a farmer with eight children in the Yakawlang district. The memory of his childhood daily drudges for firewood is still keen.

“I used to always get so tired, and it was so hard to root out bushes,” he says.

Recently, Ali made the decision to sell one of his goats in order to purchase a GHNI solar cooker - paying a nominal fee enhanced his self-esteem. Now his wife prepares meals and tea in a safer, healthier environment.

“Oh, thanks to God for providing this cooker material for me and my family,” he says. “We are comfortable now! Thank you!”

GHNI solar cookers have also enabled entrepreneurial efforts. Consider *Dagwood, one of many cooker recipients in Bamyan Province: He became a soup maker, selling his potion of peas and beans from a pressure pot steaming atop his smokeless solar cooker that, when not in use, with a sharing spirit he loans to neighbors.

The generosity of GHNI’s compassionate donors made it possible to complete the complex solar cooker project, with the last of the units being distributed among the poorest of the poor in the Yakawlang district.

Meanwhile, enthusiasm for the cookers has inspired locals to learn how to construct their own and begin small businesses by selling them in the market.

As new projects come into focus, we invite you to join GHNI in continuing to brighten the world’s darkest corridors, where the hidden and hurting desperately need the light of hope.

Will you contribute to help villagers in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East have viable nutritional food to end chronic hunger and malnutrition?

*For purposes of security and well-being, "Dagwood" and “Ali Mohammed” are pseudonyms of the people being helped by this project.