When I came to South Africa in 1963 – from UK – I soon became interested in the wildlife and in particular the birdlife. Out in rural areas it was very obvious that there was a huge demand for fuel wood – I saw women with enormous head loads – and was told about the toll this was taking on the indigenous trees.
Of course then I was very ignorant and had no idea of the problem really – I was more concerned about the trees and the birdlife. Nevertheless, when I learned about solar cooking from people in San Diego I thought I could start a project making them and showing rural people how to make them themselves…
Not to dwell on the steep and rocky learning curve of the next few years, I eventually came to the conclusion that it was no use expecting anyone to make a solar cooker… anymore than I wanted to make myself a microwave. Hence the Sunstove – which was, and is, intended to be a low-cost cooker that is simple to use.
Another of my idealistic plans that have hit the dirt… I thought that it would be a real benefit if rural people (women preferably) could become demonstrators and make a living for themselves by selling these Sunstoves. Well – this hasn’t happened – not even close. Instead, other entrepreneurial people have been buying from me – at cost – and making the retail profit on the Sunstoves.
There have been success stories along the way though, with NGO’s in several countries managing to distribute some few hundreds out into rural communities.
But now, at a crossroads, it has become necessary to change focus and try to reach more people with this renewable cooking technology. Reluctantly I realise this means advertising and using today’s media opportunities.
So now – watch this space and wish me luck!