Newsletter No.06 Jan. 2005
happy new ‘solar’ year to all of you!
First of all we want to thank you for all your suggestions, ideas and
encouragements. We do not want to pretend that we have all the solar
knowledge. Most of our information comes from you or from the internet.
So, don’t worry to ask us the questions, because we are also learning.
It is great that there is so much information available. Our special
thanks to Solar Cooking International. They have a wonderful website
with good information. Have a look for your self: Click If
we can start a project, you can do it too!
In our last letter we told you
that we received
a few donations from some generous people and were able to buy a truck.
We went to the bank on the motorbike and received loads of Vietnamese
dongs in plastic bags (1USD = 15.700 VN Dong). We have been laughing as
little children when we left the bank. The truck dealer helped us with
all our paperwork (insurance and police permissions), the cover on the
back and the Solar Serve logo on the truck. Finally we were very happy
and thankful to be the owners of our first truck.
It came just in time, now
the rain season has been started.
During this time we are not working in the countryside but we are
involved in making the solar cookers in our main factory. We had to buy
and a lot of material. Now we are growing we have to think also about
more storage space. The box cookers do not take so much space because
we can store them in small pieces, but the parabolic cookers with a
diameter of 1.30 m take a lot of space. Step by step we are learning
what the needs are. It is great to learn through those experiences. We
are not professionals, but just a group of people who are willing to
help others. But we do not take it lightly and go for quality and
excellence, and try to do our best to make it work.
Son of Lien
Lien is an engineer and has been
on staff for
several years. He has been a teacher in our solar cooking workshops.
There he met his wife Thuy. They became our first Solar Serve couple
and soon a beautiful son named Hiep was born. They discovered that Hiep
had problems with his heart and the doctor advised them to have
surgery. He was still too young for a big operation and we hoped that
his health and heart approved in this waiting time. It seemed to them
that he did better, but after a check-up with the doctor, there was
still a hole in his little heart. They are planning to do a surgery
next year in Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon), which is 800km south of their
home. Please remember Hiep and think about this young family. Lien will
attend a school in the Philippines from February till July for more
200 km walk in four days
Some people are wondering who
Solar Serve project. First of all we want to make it clear that the
purpose of this letter is not to get financial support. We just want to
inform you as friends and have our own way in trusting day by day for
our daily solar needs. But in this letter we would like to mention one
handicapped man, his name is Fred, who has been sponsoring us for
years. Every year he walks 200km in four days and ask people to sponsor
Although he doesn’t live
in Vietnam, but it amazes us how much
impact he has on people. It has not always been easy for him and
recently he lost his job, but we are so thankful that he as a
handicapped himself, wanted to help others who are handicapped and
poor. Therefore we were able to employ mister Vinh, who was shot in the
war. Although he is handicapped, he managed to become a carpenter and
Vinh is now able to make the wooden solar boxes for us at his home. Is
it not wonderful that people can help each other although they are
separated thousands of kilometers?
Plans for a new project
Although the box cooker
cooker in helping people, we have also been researching the parabolic
cooker. We compared similar projects in China, India, Nepal, Chili and
Africa and came up with our own ideas and plans. In some countries this
project is subsidized by their governments. Others have been trying to
sell the parabolic cookers in order to maintain the work when there is
no support from the outside. People were able to buy the cookers by
loans and had to pay back in a certain timeframe. They could do this by
saving the cost of fuel, which they normally should pay for their daily
cooking. The cost has to be as low as possible in order to make it
reasonable for somebody to buy it. We have been talking with the
University if this will be possible in Vietnam. Even if they allowed us
not to pay tax, will be already a great help. The University was very
open for this idea. We can make the parabolic cooker for only 50 USD.
(In other Asian countries almost double).
But we are not going into business!
Our goal is to help the poor and needy, but it will be wonderful if the
project can run by itself, without any outside support. We have already
made more than 50 parabolic frames. Our staff learned to weld, cut and
bend the steel bars. A few weeks ago we bought a lot of reflecting
sheets for the 270 pieces on one frame. A lot of work, but some of the
workers became very skillful. A parabolic cooker and a box cooker were
given to the University for research. Now we are waiting for their
approval of starting the parabolic project in 2005.
Called to serve
A few years ago we
started to call ourselves Solar Serve. In
this name you find our purpose, that is to serve people. The year 2004
has been a wonderful year to serve so many people. Sometimes they were
poor or rich, old or young, single or married, sick or healthy,
illiterate or educated, or living in the countryside or mountains. It
was a privilege to serve them. It brings so much joy! To serve the
people of Vietnam is also our desire for the coming new year. It is a
challenge. Again we are not qualified but we see the need and do our
We hope that we can
inspire you by doing something for you
neighbors. It doesn’t mean solar cooking but be creative. We have heard
of a friend who helped a very rejected aids patient with a cup of
homemade chicken soup. He didn’t know that this aids patient had been
dreaming that same day about his mother making some homemade chicken
soup. He was desperately in need of love, after being so rejected. This
(creative) cup of soup of our friend changed his life. He had
experienced love by serving. What a story! Lets fold and put our hands
together by serving in a world of many needs, shall we?
We have made hundreds of box cookers
already. During the rain season we ask the workers to make the
separated parts (wooden boxes, glass covers, reflecting plates, rubber
seals, wheels and basins). This could be done in our main factory or at
home. When we begin a local project in the Summer, we rent a small
house, move all the parts to this place and reassemble the cookers.
We bought a machine to
make a seal on the solar cookers. We
are not afraid that people will copy the cookers, because all
information is free available on the internet. Solar cookers are made
for people’s benefit and not for making money. We only want to protect
ourselves in case people are misusing it. If they come up with a bad
product and sell it in our name, the seal will help the user to
recognize who has made it. The machine and seal (4 x 4 cm) are
difficult to copy.
Keep in touch!
Solar Serve team
Called to Serve