In the wake of the Haiti earthquake, a lot of time and thought has been put into deciding how to rebuild. Haiti has two major problems that existed from before the earthquake, that are now hindering relief efforts: the destruction of their ecosystem and crushing poverty. There are many issues to be addressed to combat these two problems, but there is one possible (at least partial) solution--solar ovens.
A solar oven consists of a couple of cardboard boxes that captures solar energy and uses it to cook food or sterilize water. Solar ovens can be made extremely cheaply, out of reclaimed materials, and with proper care can last a long time (if the cardboard gets rained on, the owner can simply reclaim the foil and find more cardboard). The device weighs almost nothing and can be folded flat for ease of transportation.
Because eighty per cent of the population of Haiti lives on less than $2 per day, and a solar oven can be made for around $5, and because Haitian families typically spend up to fifty-five per cent of their income on charcoal (because wood is so scarce), this seem like an ideal solution. Most Americans have to work more than two days to afford an oven in which to cook food, or even a grill. Therefore, the cost is in keeping with Haitian families' ability to afford one, and afterwards saving more than half their income should increase each family's prosperity, so that the families will be able to afford better (or just more) food.
Solar ovens were invented in the eighteenth century, and their effectiveness has been proven for centuries. The simplest solar ovens consist of two cardboard boxes, the inner one painted black (or covered over with soot) to retain heat--and the outer one covered with aluminum foil, to reflect the sun's rays onto the black areas. In between the two boxes is some insulation to prevent heat from escaping through the sides of the boxes. Solar ovens can cook food at over 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and can boil water to sanitize it.
A Haitian woman tests a solar oven
Solar ovens were introduced to Haiti more than ten years ago, and a Haitian family can buy one for only $5 if they attend a free class in how to use one; the class includes feeding the family a meal they have cooked themselves in a solar oven, so the family at least has the benefit of having been fed.
Following the earthquake, one of the most pressing problems for Haitians is the lack of food (and means to cook it) and the lack of drinking water. These problems have been documented in the coverage of the earthquake by the mainstream media and need to be addressed as quickly as possible, right after medical attention for the injured.
A solar oven will provide almost immediate relief for food and safe drinking water to a Haitian family, especially those living outside because their homes were destroyed by the earthquake. Even at night, food can be kept warm once it has been cooked. And Haitian families with a solar oven, who will spend less of their income for charcoal, won't be forced to eat dirt cookies just to keep themselves from starving. And because charcoal won't be in as high demand, the rate of deforestation will be slowed. Deforestation has contributed significantly to the problems in Haiti because of the destruction of the ecosystem. Following deforestation, wild food is rare and the land cannot be tilled because there are no plants to prevent erosion and landslides.
For a $40 donation, you can send a kit to a Haitian family that will include a collapsible solar oven, a cooking pot, and a water purification indicator. Whether you give now, or donate in the future, this small donation can radically change the life of a Haitian family forever.
PROFITING OFF THE MISFORTUNE OF OTHERS IS WRONG. THIS WRITER HAS NO INTENTION OF DOING THAT. ALL EARNINGS MADE FROM THIS ARTICLE - LARGE OR SMALL - WILL BE DONATED TO THE EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS IN HAITI. IF THIS ARTICLE CONTINUES TO EARN AFTER DONATIONS ARE NO LONGER BEING ACCEPTED FOR EARTHQUAKE RELIEF, CONTINUED EARNINGS WILL BE DONATED TO OTHER LEGITIMATE CHARITIES SUPPORTING SUSTAINABLE OPPORTUNITY IN HAITI IN PERPETUITY.
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