Solar Oven Partners UMC is excited to announce the implementation of a new solar oven training and distribution program in the Dominican Republic. In August 2015, a team of seven Solar Oven Partners (SOP) traveled to the Dominican Republic (DR) at the invitation of Bishop Miguel Angel Cancú of the Iglesia Evangélica Dominicana (IED). IED consists of congregations from Methodist, Presbyterian, Wesleyan, and Moravian roots across the Dominican Republic. Global Ministries Missionaries Gordon (Advance #10835Z) and Ardell Graner (Advance #10836Z) joined Rev. Maria Bock from IED's Social Action Committee as hosts and project mentors. While meeting with many pastors, church leaders, and members of local communities, the team had five successful days of solar cooking, assembling ovens, and training new solar cooks in preparing local foods. The enthusiasm was tremendous, and by the end of the trip, Bishop Cancú personally invited SOP to return to the Dominican Republic with many more ovens. The Graners spoke of the experience in this way: "Distributing solar ovens through the church, in the name of Christ, is a concrete example of God's love reaching out in response to the cries of the poor. It is Good News plain and simple."
Providing both the knowledge and the tools to alleviate hunger and human suffering through clean, affordable solar cooking, SOP's success hinges on a two-fold approach: 1) Education in the concepts of solar box cooking to conserve meager family income and reduce the environmental devastation of clear-cutting trees; and 2) Training to maximize the use of free solar energy for the basic human needs of safe water and healthy food. For 15 years, SOP had a successful training program in Haiti. With nearly 10,000 ovens distributed, thousands of Haitian families have realized a reduction in charcoal usage which, in turn, dramatically reduces air and water pollution. The invitation and SOP's new initiative to work with the Iglesia Evangélica Dominicana (IED) and the Graners, alongside Dominicans and Dominicans of Haitian descent, is a tremendous opportunity to bring the life-saving results of solar box cooking to new partners in the Dominican Republic.
Goals & Objectives
Working with IED Church leaders, solar oven distribution sites will be organized around trained, local leaders to direct oven assembly and teach solar cooking, baking, and water pasteurization. Solar Oven Partners United Methodist Volunteers In Mission teams will assist in the training and program development. Along with distribution sites that reach people who will benefit the most from a solar oven, the Dominican program will assess the challenges and opportunities for outreach into the sugar cane camps, or bateys, which house Haitian workers and are located throughout the sugar producing regions of the DR. The three solar oven workshops in the Dakotas Conference - operated by energetic and dedicated volunteers - will continue to manufacture and ship solar oven components to the Dominican Republic.
Each solar oven costs about $150 to manufacture, ship, and distribute to trained users in the Dominican Republic. Complete solar oven kits consist of the oven and auxiliary aluminum reflector, 3 covered pots, a French bread pan w/ black cloth cover, a WAPI (water/milk pasteurization instrument), oven thermometer, recipes, and even measuring cups and spoons! The SOP oven is a family-sized unit. To receive their solar oven kit, a family member must attend a 2-day training seminar and pay $22 to create ownership. The $22 will stay with the IED to allow for management and direction of the program. Our solar ovens have seen design improvements over the years to maximize the sun's capacity to cook and bake, pasteurize water, and reliably provide a free, sustainable source of cooking fuel. Solar Oven Partners UMC will continue educational and promotional presentations in churches and through church mission programming, as well as sharing information in secular settings and public classrooms. Raising consciousness about the project and presenting the opportunity to participate both financially and through volunteer service will continue as a major strategy.