In May, InStove shipped 50 stoves to refugee camps in South Sudan- our second major sale to the UN's World Food Programme (WFP). In April 2011, we provided 200 stoves to the Darfur region of Sudan. South Sudan is a new country, torn by armed conflict over oil reserves with neighboring Sudan. It is struggling to form a democratic government. The population is brutally poor, and there never is enough food.
In June, Fred Colgan flew from Juba, the capital, to the center of the country. He arrived on a dirt airstrip at in the village of Rumbek. From there, he went to Rumbek Girl's School where 25 cooks from ten district schools were waiting to meet him and see the new stoves. Some cooks had traveled over 100 km for the demonstration. Under Fred's guidance, the cooks used a 60 Liter Stove to prepare a pot of asida—cornmeal porridge. One pot of asida fed 300 children. During the demonstration, Fred talked with the cooks. He learned that they have desperately difficult lives, and earn the equivalent of $5.00 per month. Although always hungry and thin, the women were physically strong from long hours spend stirring huge pots of food for school meal programs.
After the demonstration, one of the cooks, Debrorrah, thanked InStove because the new stoves are very fast and efficient (cooking times were cut in half and fuel-use was 80% less). She was also tremendously relieved that her legs and feet were no longer getting burned, and she was no longer breathing smoke. She and the other cooks wanted to give Fred a gift to show their appreciation. "There is no way I can repay you," she said, and presented him her personal bible. "I hope it can return to you some happiness that this stove has given us."
"It was one of the most touching gifts I've ever received- I will treasure it for the rest of my life," said Fred. Although he has trained almost one thousand cooks to date, he said of the Rumbek demonstration, "This was absolutely the apex of my experience with cooks."
InStove hopes to continue providing stoves to cooks throughout South Sudan with partners like the UN, with the eventual goal of opening a production facility there to build the stoves in-country. The people of South Sudan deserve not only the most efficient cooking technology on the planet, it deserves the training and the capacity to build it themselves.