Our 10 year-old daughter Breeze was inspired and saddened by stories told by our friend Marie of when she was Breeze’s age living as an orphan in a refugee camp in Africa. Marie’s life depended on finding and bringing back wood for cooking. It was a very dangerous hungry job starting at 4am and not ending till after 7pm. Marie walked for miles to find sticks in a deforested landscape that was made this way by years of women and children forced to spend almost all the hours of their lives doing the same before her. The open fires are inefficient, cause lung diseases, eye irritation, conflict over a vanishing resource and almost total irreversible destruction of the landscape.
Our family’s conversation around this topic went from despair to amazement when we found the Origo 3000 CleanCook Stove from Dometic. Dometic International partnered Project Gaia, a not-for-profit working globally to promote clean, safe, efficient cookstoves powered by alcohol fuels. The alliance gave a CleanCook Stove to all households in the Kebribeyah refugee camp (pop. 17,000) in Ethiopia. The CleanCook Stove is fueled by bioethanol manufactured from a waste product from the sugarcane industry that was previously being dumped into rivers in Ethiopia.
In 2008 this initiative has won several global green energy awards being recognized as helping slow deforestation, reduce indoor air pollution, lessen gender-based violence, and mitigate conflict between refugees and locals in these harsh environments. The project has seen such success that a factory has been built in South Africa to make the CleanCook Stove and make them available to all of Africa (www.cleancook.com).
We use our CleanCook stove every day. It’s just like cooking on gas. We are still searching for a local source of bioethanol to replace the methylated spirits we currently use. We’d love to hear from anyone who can help us with this challenge.