Thursday, September 21, 2006

6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, & 10th: Parutani, Tajra & Itapaya

Believers, Benefits, and Beyond

By: Michael Vehar

Up to today our grand total of cookers distributed through our instructional courses is 230! We have about 80 more half constructed cookers in the shop that The Bolivia Project has helped with material costs as well as construction. We firmly believe that our goal of 360 families is atainable in the time we have left volunteering, and we would like to especially thank Ruth Whitfield and Sobre la Roca for the wonderful products and service they bring to the people of Bolivia.

The past two courses bring our total of constructed cookers in the regions near Parutani to over one hundred! The credit goes to our representative of these areas that coordinates groups of about 20 - 30 participants for each course. This area is an ideal location for the solar cookers because of the year round sunny days, and the lack of biomass available to the people to burn. Most of these participants rely either on the small amounts of wood they can collect, or propane tanks that can be quite expensive for their cooking needs.

Another major problem they face on a daily basis is that there is NO running water in these areas. Most of the people in the community have to make the daily walk to the small, contaminated stream to collect the water needed for the day. Unfortunately it is very common for the parents of these families to send their children to do the collecting of water and biomass to burn everyday. This usually means that the children arrive late, or not at all to school. The further we get out into the rural areas of Bolivia, we see the lack of schooling for the children who are needed to work just for the family to have enough food for the day.

When considering the many benefits of our solar cooking technology, one stands out in my mind more than the rest. The NEED of clean water to drink for the families in these areas. I already mentioned the contaminated water collected for daily use, but this water can be easily cleaned by our solar ovens. Whether sunny or cloudy, the cooker gets to high enough temperatures to purify water for drinking, simply by pouring the water into plastic bottles and leaving them in the cooker for about two hours. I myself, am a testimony to this because I drank solar cooked water for the first two months I spent in Bolivia in 2004.

We have been trying hard to reach all areas around Cochabamba with our solar cooking techonology. We continue to try and make groups of participants in areas that we have not already hit, but this has proved to be difficult. Parutani, Itapaya, and Tajra have been great areas to work with because the people know us, our technology, and that it works. They have seen their neighbors using the cookers, and it makes them want one. Literally in this area we have seen how the cooker can market itself because we have distributed the technology to over one hundred believers, and people who know they can have a healthier way of life thanks to the energy of the sun that is so rarely used in this world.