The next day was spent in the Nakasongola district, which is a good three hours further north of Kampala. This is the area where we first began our work three years ago. We visited a variety of homes and met many families that had been using our clean cookstoves for some time, along with some new folk requesting a cookstove of their own. News spreads rather quickly through those who already have benefited from using their cookstoves.
Once again, we enjoyed playing with the local children as they followed us around from house to house. We also met with Steve, who will be our Supervisor and trainer for the expansion of the project in that district. He, along with some local women involved with The Cookstove Project, demonstrated how to build a cookstove, which was completed in less than two hours—great job, Steve!
Uganda Visit - March 2016
On our second day, we returned to the same district and participated in classroom instruction to educate women and men on the importance of having a clean cookstove as well as how to build one. Even though these cookstoves are fairly simple to construct, there is an exact science and engineering process necessary for them to work efficiently. The cookstove training took place on the grounds of a local school, so we were able to meet many children and visit their very humble classrooms.
It was a new experience to be in an environment where all the homes and schools are without running water or electricity and the bathrooms are basically a hole in the floor (with walls around if one is lucky). After the classroom session, we were able to get our hands dirty and, along with many of the school children, helped in the construction of a cookstove for the headmistress of the school, led by our capable supervisors instructing each step of the process. The kids had a great time joining in with stomping on and mixing the anthill soil, grass and water that we used to build the stoves.
This past November, Rebecca Sommer and I were fortunate to make our first journey to visit The Cookstove Project in Uganda. It was exciting to make this trip, to see first-hand the work being done there and how it is changing lives. One can only understand so much from pictures or written stories, so being there was a whole new level of understanding of how building a simple clean cookstove changes a family’s life forever.
Our first excursion was to the Mukono district, where our Uganda office is situated, about an hour and a half out of the capital city of Kampala. The drive there was exciting, as in this city of five million there are a total of three traffic lights, and once out of the city most of the roads are dirt and mud. This was in itself enough to keep us awake and alert! Once we arrived, we were greeted by our wonderful staff with a warm and heartfelt embrace. We share this office with one of our partners, Omni Med, an organization that trains local residents to become village health workers, known as VHTs, who act as first responders to the health needs in their villages.
On our first day, we visited many homes and families where our stoves were already constructed. The women were very grateful for their new cookstoves, saying how much easier it is now for them to cook for their families. As we visited local families, we were surrounded by groups of small children running about freely, laughing and pointing at us, the odd newcomers to their village.
The children were quite curious to see us there, keeping their distance initially and following us around as we visited the different homes and talked with the women. After a while the children warmed up to us—they came closer and held our hands, and were very happy when we took their pictures and showed them the photos on our phones. At the end of the first day we were able to witness a community happily coming together to build a new clean cookstove for a local family.