Newsletter No.43 April 2015
Here we are again.
Sorry that we skipped our last letter, but one of our staff was absent
for several months. In Solar Serve we all have our responsibility and
it is good that we can use our talents. Creativity is needed when we
meet new challenges. The last few months we have been working together
with several other agencies, organizations and social enterprises. It
was good to work together. We also received some training and now we
are able to pass it on to others. Here are some of the latest stories.
for hill tribes
Last year we supplied a number of cooking stoves sponsored by
foreigners and Solar Serve. A leader of a hill tribe liked our stoves
so much that he decided to support one hundred families more with his
own money. For us this was a sign that our cooking stoves met the
requirements. It was wonderful to see their enthusiasm. Another leader
received our cooking stove and wanted to order 20 more and later
changed the number to 50. Although the trip to the mountains was
difficult and dangerous, we were very encouraged!
Together with World Vision
World Vision is a relief and development organization. Last year they
supported several hill tribes in Central Vietnam with clean cooking
stoves. At first they checked several convenient cooking models from
the north and also our model. We were very pleased when they chose our
stove as the most practical one. When a bigger one was required, we
were able to come up with a more suitable design. They accepted our new
model and from that time on we have been supplying them.
620 families were blessed
The end of last year we worked again with the above-mentioned
organization in supplying 620 families with smaller and bigger cooking
stoves. They were handmade in our factory. We were under pressure but
we reached the deadline. It took courage to push the official
paperwork, but finally we loaded our truck with all the cooking stoves
and drove to the mountains. Our first job was to train the people in
using the stoves. It may be simple but they are often excluded from new
developments. The training lasted two days in two villages. It was very
Smaller but same capacity
Poor people think that our stoves are still a little bit expensive,
although we kept the price as low as possible. We asked several
agencies to sell them for us. Although people were enthusiastic, they
did not want to take the risk in losing money. This is a general trend
among poor people who do not dare to buy something new if it has not
proven well. We were challenged by an organization to design a cheaper
one, but with the same capacity. We came up with a smaller one and are
waiting for the results of an official test in Hanoi. If accepted, it
will be a breakthrough.
Sponsoring with syrup waffles
For a number of years we were using a projector for our power point
presentations, but after a while the screen showed lines through the
pictures. We tried to repair it and also we explored the internet for
solutions, but it was not possible to fix it. A support group wanted to
help us and decided to sell delicious syrup waffles in support for a
new projector. A few months later we received their support and were
able to buy a new Sony projector. It can be connected to
our single solar panel when there is no electricity. We are so happy
Funny by accident
Another blessing came from a Dutch recycling shop last summer. They
decided to support 100 families in three villages near Hoi An. One of
our staff received the money in January during his visit to Holland. A
funny accident happened when he put his raincoat on the table. One of
their staff mixed it up with their recycling things and placed it for
sale in their shop. She was very embarrassed when she found out her
mistake, but was still able to intercept the raincoat before it was
sold. We all had a good laugh!
Example to follow
For several years we received business training from Mario Brühlmann, a
Swiss consultant. He has been encouraging us to use his book and
methods for teaching others. Last month we invited 20 students and
small business owners to our center in Danang and trained them. It was
well received and the second training session will follow soon. Mr.
Mario will visit our second course and also some businesses. His book
is called: ‘The Ten Commandments for Entrepreneurs’ and is officially
translated in Vietnamese and available in Vietnam.
As a social enterprise we have to follow new regulations. The last few
months we have done a lot of paperwork in order to meet the
requirements of a new social insurance law. The new law will require
employers and workers to pay premiums for social insurance. Workers
will also get paid leave for illness, pregnancy, work accidents or
occupational disease, in addition to pensions for retirement. For
workers with contracts under three months we have to follow those
regulations too. This new law can be a big challenge for us and many
In our last letter we told you about the construction of a new
storehouse near our center. It is 8.2m wide and 21.5m long. There is a
separate room at the back for someone to live as a guard at nighttime.
Now we have finished the gate, doors and windows and are very happy to
have a place to store our goods and even our truck. Because of
increased storage space, we can keep on building more cooking stoves
and cookers. At the moment we are making 1000 cooking stoves and this
can change suddenly when there is an increase in demand.
Testing Moringa tea
The moringa trees outside our center are now producing new seeds. This
will be great for the future. Tea samples were sent for testing all
over the world. Till now we have received only positive answers. We are
still exploring the possibilities of starting a small business (maybe
with others), but this is not always easy. If you want to know more
about the benefits of this moringa tree you can explore links on the
New workers and job training
We hired two new deaf
workers and a student who is studying
International Studies. He asked to do his internship at our center. He
is translating documents as a temporary job training till the end of
April. An internship is mostly done by college or university students.
The purpose is to provide a meaningful learning experience for the
student. By doing this a student can determine if he has an interest in
a particular job, create a network of contacts or gain school credit.
In Saigon we
met an old lady who made moveable caterpillars from paper.
We used her idea and made 60 of those colorful caterpillars at a youth
club. They loved it and after a while the whole room was filled with
the caterpillars, moving over tables, chairs and floors. In an age of
computers the children had not lost their love for small things. This
year they had sponsored our work. In making the caterpillars it
inspired them to do better. The next day one young man was able to
inspire his family and collected a lot of euros in a short time. His
grandparents were very proud of him!
It is always good to get
some visitors or emails from a far country. Sometimes it is like cold
water to a thirsty soul. You can do the same by sending emails or
visiting friends. We don’t think about long letters or a long visit.
Last year for example two Dutch girls came to visit us only on a
Saturday afternoon. It was great and we had good fellowship with them.
So don’t feel hesitant if it is only a short visit. That often fits
very well. Thanks again for your interest for all these years!
Solar Serve team
Called to Serve