Newsletter No.09 Oct. 2005
would like to thank you again for
remembering us. It meant so much. We need to stay with both feet on the
ground. Sometimes difficult because the media covering is a little bit
overwhelming. We have not asked for it but newspapers are interested in
what we are doing. In one week we were in four major news-papers, with
pictures and stories of our work. Vietnam TV made anotherd umentary and
someone told us that we were on the radio too. What is next?. We do not
boast in it. We try to keep a low profile. If you climb high, you will
hurt yourself badly if you fall (Vietnamese proverb). And to keep us
humble...we are in the rainy season. No solar cooking!
Documentary and testing
A TV crew from Hanoi came for
three days to Danang. They were able to make good shots in hot weather
conditions. We are very thankful for their time and effort. Mister Bich
was responsible for the program. A few days before the film-ing he
caught dengue fever, but for some reason they delayed their filming for
a few days. It gave him enough time to recover and (although weak) he
was able to help them. Filming was not always easy in high temperature,
but we think they did very well. It was also a character training and
learning process for our staff. We had to be clear in communication.
Misunderstandings made things difficult. After the TV crew left we had
to sit down. It was good to be open and talk together about the things
we had to change in our lives, but also in the program. It helped us to
be ready for a new challenge, which is the next story.
Factory in Tam Ky
We have asked our workers
to be involved in finding a place
for a new factory in Tam Ky city. We would like to open a workplace for
the construction of new parabolic cookers, with the employment of local
workers and handicapped people. Last month our staff searched the city
and found a piece of land (5x50 meter) with a house for sale. After
finding another house we came to the conclusion that we had to choose
the first option. The owner of the land lowered the price after
watching the Solar Serve documentary on TV. We were able to pay this
deposit with our own funds, but the owner changed her mind and wanted
us to pay a deposit which was five times higher we agreed with. This
was impossible for us at that moment. So we had to go with the word
'wait and see'. This is really a challenge for us. Please keep in mind,
we are not asking for money. Our newsletters and contact with you are
not based on donations. We have seen your love, friendship and standing
with us for many years and this is very special for us. So, please
stand with us again.
There was an encouraging
article in the Danang newspaper of a reporter visiting the Katu
minority. She was very surprised when she found out that the Katu
minority were cooking with the solar cookers. Last year we gave them 20
box cookers, and according to this article they were still using them.
But lately another reporter told us that not all of the cookers were
used successfully. The Katu people are working in the mountains.
Sometimes they return to their village. Last year we were able to teach
them only one morning. In our Solar Serve program we usually have
workshops for three days and follow-ups for several weeks, in order to
change their thinking and cooking habits. This was not possible with
the Katu and is one of the reasons they are not using the cookers
properly. We will return soon to help them again.
Mr Hoang is a simple and
sometimes funny man, and has been
working for Solar Serve since 1998. Because of polio at a young age, he
has never been able to walk well. He moves himself very fast with his
hands. He loves his work and is very skilled in making the box cookers.
A few months ago he was sitting at the back of a motorbike. One of our
staff was taking him to Tam Ky city, but they were stopped by the
police. Our staff had forgotten his license and was afraid to pay a
fine. The police asked them to put down the motorbike, but when they
saw Hoang claming down skillfully, they waved and told them to move on.
When Hoang came back it became a big story, because he ‘saved’ our
staff in paying a fine. Even his handicapped worked out for good and he
became ‘the hero’ in Solar Serve. We all had a good laugh!
We had a great time at a
trade exhibition in Danang. We were invited by a (solar) company to
share their stand for five days. Although in the beginning it was
tiring, but at the end it was great. We were standing near an exit, so
we were able to demonstrate the cookers outside the hall. With lots of
sunshine we could show many people the benefits of cooking with the sun.
In our last newsletter
we wrote that Mrs.Tranh was able to
save 13 USD / month on fuel cost since she started to use her solar
cooker. If you keep in mind that the average wages in the countryside
is around 40 USD / month, the use of solar cookers can be very
important for poor families.
We are making a Solar
Serve web site in English and
Vietnamese. We are now gathering information and scanning pictures to
fill in the pages. To have it in two languages will benefit you and
also our Vietnamese friends. We are not able to tell you when the site
will be available, but we hope in our next newsletter to give you all
the details. Solarcooking International have also published an article
in Vietnamese on their web site. It deals with ‘frequent asked
questions’ about solar cooking.
Solar Serve gathering
year we organized our yearly gathering in the high mountains of Dalat.
We stayed in a very simple guest-house. Not all of the workers were
able to come but some of the spouses and children came along. For a few
days we were able to encourage each other, reflect on the past year and
learn more how we could serve better. We are all special and have
different talents. Desires, experiences and personality play an
important part in this in order to serve effectively. We need to
recognize these talents in each other. We had one day off and visited
important and beautiful spots in and around the city. A lot of fun for
everyone and even the sun kept on smiling. After four wonderful days of
fellowship we left encouraged and refreshed, ready to serve again for
the coming season.
International Four Days March
For many years we have
been sponsored by one handicapped man
in Holland. His name is Fred and he loves to help us in our work. He is
doing that by a yearly sponsor walk of 200km in 4 days during the
International Four Days March around the city of Nijmegen. This year he
was only allow-ed to walk 160 km because of his age. The weather was
great and he walk-ed with 43.200 participants for four days. This year
almost 5000 people could not finish the march. He wrote to us by e-mail
and told us that the weather was great and the 160 km walk was easy.
Well, none of us has ever walked a distant like this, so we are very
thankful for his courage and endurance. It helps us a lot in helping
In the middle of Vietnam
we are moving into the rainy season.
It means more time to make solar cookers in our factory. Till now we
have helped 1000 families with the box cookers and around 20 families
with the parabolic cookers but for research. 200 new box cookers are
waiting to be distributed next month and 30 parabolic cookers will be
transferred to our new factory in Tam Ky. For the first time next month
we are starting our project in the southern provinces at the beginning
of the dry season. It all came out of this years media coverage. So
many people have requested our assistance to set up a solar cooking
project. Please think about us during the coming months. The requests
are sometimes overwhelming but the workers are few. We need local
people with a heart for solar cooking and a compassion in helping the
Please keep in touch,
Solar Serve team
Called to Serve