Wednesday, November 28, 2012

To Pignon, in Northern Haiti

Note from Haiti part 2

Dennis Hartley reporting from the field

I've been in Pignon the last couple days, traveling on roads that gave our SUV a beating. My advance planning has paid off in ways I couldn't have anticipated, but there are a few things I'll do differently next time. I've been traveling this first leg with Bob Fairchild, an independent engineer with a wide range of knowledge in appropriate technologies and much experience in Haiti. He speaks some Creole too.

I've been driven and hosted everywhere. I've visited two of our stoves here so far, installed one and shared rice cooked on the stove for students (on Thanksgiving no less).

I taped an interview with a cook who has been using our stove for a couple months now and loves it. A couple days later, at the same location, I gave a presentation to 32 cooks representing about 10 schools in the area. I wish you could have seen their faces when they saw the stove, and how the resident cook gushed about how it has made life easier for her. I'm expecting orders.

Tomorrow I'm back at Port au Prince for a couple days, another presentation to the dynamic Rea Dol, who runs a girl's school and directs the Society of Providence United for the Economic Development of Petion-Ville (SOPUDEP), a Haitian grassroots organization specializing in child and adult education and a micro-credit program for women. Then it’s off to the southern region of Les Cayes for three days for more of the same.

My new travel computer died a couple days ago. So I'm on Bob's right now. A godsend.

It's difficult to express how I'm feeling. I do know I'm grateful and proud to be able to represent InStove here, and I'm humbled and deeply affected by meeting these people and seeing how they live under such challenging conditions. Most of all, I've been privileged to see firsthand how our team is improving lives and creating a better future. I'm more than ever convinced of the great value of our work together.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving in Haiti

Notes from Haiti
InStove's Dennis Hartley is in Haiti for two weeks--our first trip there--in order to further our goal of establishing a Haitian Stove-Factory-In-A-Box in 2013. He will be blogging about the trip as time and technology allow.

Part 1: “Thanksgiving in Haiti

"Two days ago I arrived in Port au Prince for meetings with several organizations, including the UN World Food Programme, to further our efforts to bring more stoves to Haiti. On the 22nd, I traveled to the northern plateau region of Pignon to install a stove we recently shipped to a K-8 school with 350 children.Normally, the children at the school receive a complete meal at lunch. But on this particular day there was only enough money to provide some rice for the students.

I unpacked the stove from the box and set it up next to a three-stone fire pit in a small room with walls blackened by smoke. I talked with the cooks, my guide translating. It was an exciting moment for me – my first in-country installation and training. Before long, the rice was ready, and students who had been peering through the open windows were invited in and receive a plate of rice. We ate there together in the kitchen, everyone talking excitedly about the stove and how fast and clean it was.

Without doubt, this was my best Thanksgiving ever!

- Dennis Hartley

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

InStove Visits the Green Festival

Stella Strother-Blood reporting
At the beginning of November, InStove sent a small team to the San Francisco Green Festival in California. We joined hundreds of other exhibitors who valued sustainable solutions in all areas: from architecture to vegan recipes. For-profit businesses, activist groups, and non-profit organizations all came together in one space to celebrate being green!

We were able to use our new roadshow material at the event including flyers, banners, and a tapestry. Of course, our main “eye-catcher” was the 60-liter/15 gallon InStove we displayed in the booth! We also had a few briquettes, a 100-liter/26 gallon pot, and a medical autoclave for tens of thousands of attendees to take a close look at.

The Green Festival was a great opportunity to spread the word about InStove in the San Francisco Bay Area. There were a lot of interested people who wanted to know what they could do to help our mission. Our answer? Spread the word and donate! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Haiti Initiative

This month we are making significant progress in our mission to bring more of our stoves to institutional settings in Haiti. InStove began working in the country after the disastrous 2010 earthquake, which displaced millions of people.

The LaCoste orphanage in Pignon has been using one of our stoves since July, and we’ve received some encouraging feedback about its use in comparison to their traditional three-stone fire method of cooking. Catherine Allechin, from Bay Pointe Community Church in Michigan, conducted a side-by-side comparison of the two cooking techniques and reported the results of the test to us.

The orphanage’s cook prepared equal amounts of rice and beans with the stove and the three-stone fire and Catherine documented the highly contrasting cook times for each method. The fire for the three-stone technique took twenty minutes to stoke, followed by another hour and a half of cook time for a dinner that was finished after the sun had already set. The 60-liter/15-gallon InStove took less than an hour to cook the meal.

And unlike the three-stone fire, Catherine noted, the InStove emitted barely any smoke, was cool to the touch, and used considerably less fuel. In addition to these benefits, the InStove left practically no waste because the small amount of hot coals left behind after cooking was reused for ironing right away.

Catherine asked the residents of LaCoste if they liked using the InStove, and they answered with an enthusiastic “yes!”

This kind of response is incredibly uplifting and the timing couldn’t be better. InStove’s Haiti Initiative Coordinator Dennis Hartley is off to Haiti and will visit major cities, including Les Cayes and Pignon. In addition to meeting with potential partners interested in bringing a container of 60 stoves to Haiti next year, Dennis is promoting our Stove-Factory-In-A-Box program.

We’ve no doubt that institutions like the LaCoste orphanage will benefit greatly from abandoning the traditional three-stone fire method. With the help of many gracious guides and hosts, Dennis is in store for an invigorating trip. We wish him a hearty ‘Bon Voyage!’, and look forward to reporting more about how InStove is changing lives for the better.