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 Newsletter No.07 Apr. 2005

 Dear friends,

 Here we are again. A new Solar Serve newsletter with news from Danang city. For us it is important to inform you, because we need people like you in backing and holding us up in what we are doing. It is not always easy, but till now we have experienced that in all difficult situations there was a solution. This year we are facing a shortens of staff, while we are growing and expending. So we need wisdom how we can do more with less people. It’s a challenge for us. It keeps us depending on the source of sunlight. 
In this letter we are not asking for any donations, but lately we received a nice support gift from a Dutch organization who introduced us to solar cooking in 1997. We were also very happy when you showed your interest and love by your letters. When we started our project 5 years ago some people told us that it would not work in Vietnam. People are still laughing about us. But your letters kept us going and your suggestions helped us to adjust the program through the years. This year we will help many others with new solar cookers in the countryside and will explore new areas for the new parabolic solar cookers.

Hard work

After the Vietnamese New Year celebrations and the end of the rainy season we were searching for new areas for our project this year. We felt that it should be south of the province we have been working in the last couple of years. This place will be also closer to our main factory, but a little bit more difficult to work in. When we tried to contact local authorities, they told us that our project was ‘too simple’. We have never denied that, when we started five years ago, but the University and other people encouraged us that this was our strength. The local officials of this province needed more papers from the University and after that they would discuss the matter. We tried to contact the women’s union, but, although they liked it, they were not able to do anything without the permission of the authorities. So we have to go through this waiting process and will be submissive. 
In the meantime our staff have been working very hard to build more then 300 new box cookers and 50 parabolic cookers during the rainy season. If we get permission from the local authorities our staff will live in these areas during the summer season. So we need places for living and storage for the cookers. This can be hard on our staff, because during the rainy season they live and work so close together, but during the dry season they will live alone or only with two in an unknown area. It’s sometimes hard to keep on motivated when you are only by yourself. Please remember them.

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Frames of the parabolic cookers. Small reflecting plates cut and attached. Researching a solar still

Son of Lien

Last time we told you about Lien, one of our staff, attending a school in the Philippines from February till July for more education. He is separated from his family for almost 6 months. Although this is not unusual in Vietnam, it can be still hard. His wife and son were not able to go with him due to some health problems of his little son Hiep. One month ago the son of Lien was rushed to the hospital (emergency room). He had high fever and was in a shock. Because of his past heart problems, his mother Thuy was very worried. She called Bich (director of our project) to come to the hospital. When he arrived, he took the boy in his arms to warm him and was allowed to walk around with him. He spoke with the boy about the his father and comforted him. The fever turned down and he asked the boy to repeat some healing words. The boy became hungry and ate something, and before Bich was leaving the hospital the boy was laughing again. Love and care will change all situations.

Train accident

On March 12, Hans (project advisor) came back from Hanoi by train. He shared a sleeping carriage with a mother and her two children. When they came closed to Lang Co village (50km north of Danang) the train had to run over a S cur-ved rail. They felt that the train run to fast and suddenly it started to shake and they were thrown to each other. Hans could grasped one child and the mother the other one. Suddenly the train came to a halt. At the back of the carriage it started to burn, so they jumped out of the train as fast as possible. The whole train was derailed and the carriage were Hans was sitting in was smashed on a rock and hold back by an electric pole. The pole saved their lives of not being thrown all the way down into the sea. 
Other carriages were been thrown off the track and up side down on the rocks of the seashore. In one carriage people were trapped and Hans and others were able to smash the windows with hammers and helped the people to jump or carry out of the windows. In other carriages many people were injured and some of them died already. Many people walked over the railway to Lang Co village or were rescued by fisher boats. After six hours they were all transported by a special train to Danang city. When they arrived at the railway station, a national TV station just showed the accident on a big screen in the arrivalhall and they could see how they were really protected. More than 100 people were injured and 13 people died. It was the worst train accident in Vietnam’s history.

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TV documentary

We were asked to participate in a TV documentary about solar energy. We had not started our program in the country-side yet, because we were waiting for official (permission) papers from the University. The film crew could not wait and we felt that we should set up something in the areas which we had worked last year. The first day they filmed the factory, our staff and made some interviews. The next day we needed sunshine because they were planning to film the cooking. When the film crew arrived the sun was still behind the clouds and they told Bich that it was not possible to film that day. 
But it was so clear for Bich and the staff that they should cook that day, that they decided to prepare the food even it was cloudy. There are always a lot of clouds during the change of seasons (rainy to dry). When they put the food in the cookers the sun appeared weak through the clouds, but enough to warm the cookers. After a while the sun broke through in all its glory and heated the cookers enough to kill the germs and cook the food. The film crew made their shots and our staff could even demonstrate the parabolic cookers. Enough time to show that it worked. After 30 minutes the sun dis-appeared, but the solar cookers were so warm that the food cooked itself perfectly in its own heat. They were able to eat a wonderful solar meal together.
In the afternoon they came to Danang, because we had decided to open a show-room in the city for people to see the cookers and to give more information about solar energy. After more interviews and shots they had another day of filming at the factory of Dr. Hung (project supervisor) on the campus of the University. He has invented solar panels for pumps, water heating and ice machines. A few days ago they showed the 30 minutes documentary on national TV. Someone wrote to us: “First I thought your project will be very difficult to develop, but now I see that that the cookers are easy to use and it protects the environment. I think it will be successful” We were very encouraged and happy that we could help many people to understand the principles of cooking with the sun. Isn’t it wonderful to work for and participate with the Sun?

International group

We were privileged in having an international youth group with us for a couple of days. One of the greatest things of having young people around us is that they keep you alive. Some of them were great in dancing with special mime movements, so we asked a school (with deaf children) if they could perform for them. Not only the team but also the children had a wonderful time. The children picked it up fast and were doing the same movements with a lots of excitement. The next day they were asked in doing it again, but now for adults. It was great to see young and old being touched by such a creative movement. Love for the Vietnamese people was the main motive of this team and it was well received.

Our needs

We are in need of Vietnamese staff in helping us during this summer. We felt we should expend the project and that means more staff too. Our new showroom requires a motivated person who can tell others the need of using solar energy. We need also wisdom how we should distribute the new parabolic cookers. This is a new challenge because the parabolic users will be different than the people who are using the box cookers.

Thank you

Well, that’s all for now. Thank you for reading this letter. Please remember us during the coming months. We love to hear from and are open for any suggestions.
Greetings,
Solar Serve team

Called to Serve

For more information write to: solarserve@yahoo.com