Target: Rick Jost, Haiti Solar Oven Partners project director
Goal: Thank the Haiti Solar Ovens Project for providing environmentally-friendly low-cost solar ovens to Haitians
The Haiti Solar Oven Partners (HSOP) volunteer project in South Dakota has proven that fighting poverty and saving the environment are compatible goals. Since 1999, the nonprofit organization has been building solar ovens, offering them to Haitians at a mere $15 per unit. These ovens allow many Haitians to cook much more safely than they would otherwise. Their traditional method of cooking with charcoal harms the environment and greatly increases the risk of lung damage.
The solar ovens are an excellent cost-saver for those Haitians who don’t have the money to purchase or pay for a gas or electric oven – let alone access to the infrastructure required for their use. Let’s not forget that for poor countries such as Haiti, the population’s low income and lack of access to gas delivery and electricity makes it hardly feasible to provide Western-style solutions of gas or electric ovens. The HSOP project is brilliant for having tailored its its aid initiative to the needs of Haitians, actually providing them with a type of oven that will work in their infrastructure-poor environment and won’t make a dent in their meager budgets.
But HSOP has accomplished much more than merely delivering a low-cost cooking appliance to a poor population. It has also managed to promote positive health outcomes for the Haitian people and to preserve the country’s environment, particularly its forests. The project’s ingenuity lies in its realization that perhaps the Haitians’ lack of access to traditional energy sources is not a tragedy but rather an opportunity to promote the use of solar power that is much less noxious to human health and the environment than its competitors. Natural gas causes damage to the ozone layer as well as pollution that may contribute to respiratory diseases and cancers. The effects of radiation from nuclear power accidents leave their mark on the health of plants, animals, and humans for generations. Solar power, however, carries none of that risk.
But the most important environmental effect of delivering solar ovens to Haiti is related to deforestation. HSOP’s efforts may help the country curb the environmentally destructive practice of felling trees to turn their wood into charcoal, an activity whose lure is too hard to resist. After all, profiting from the sale of such a widely available resource is guaranteed income in a country where economic opportunities are sparse. The penetration of the solar ovens into the Haitian market will hopefully reduce the demand for charcoal and finally allow Haiti to make progress in protecting and restoring its forest areas.
The Haiti Solar Oven Partners project deserves our recognition for its role in offering Haitians a cost-effective method of cooking that takes into consideration the population’s lack of access to electricity and gas delivery but also accomplishes the vital goal of steering them away from gas and nuclear, the two energy sources implicated in environmental and health hazards. Last but not least, by starting the positive trend of using solar ovens in food preparation, the project may eventually lead to a reduction of deforestation caused by a high demand for charcoal, Haiti’ s most popular fuel source for cooking.
Fighting poverty and preserving the earth can indeed go together. Please sign this petition to thank HSOP for providing the poor population of Haiti with an affordable cooking method that also does much to save the environment.
Dear Rick Jost, Haiti Solar Oven Partners project director
We want to praise you for giving poor Haitians the opportunity to purchase a solar oven at an incredibly affordable price of $15. Not only have you given them a chance to purchase an essential appliance at a bargain price, but you have enabled them to use a cooking method that pays for itself and requires no additional investment — unlike gas or electricity, the power of the sun costs absolutely nothing.
We also want to thank you for providing a cooking solution that encourages Haiti to preserve its environment and the health of its population. If Haiti uses solar energy to power its ovens instead of natural gas or perhaps even nuclear technology, it will avoid generating pollution and all the illnesses — respiratory and cancer-related — that go along with it. The most important environmental benefit can be felt more immediately; if Haiti gradually turns away from the use of charcoal as a fuel source for cooking, then the trees of Haiti’s devastated forests may escape the axe and continue to live for generations to come.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Vladsinger via Wikimedia Commons