We are still ALIVE & ACTIVE – Stove Trainings & Education Center in Uganda

Wow, 2 years since my last post on this webiste!!!!!

I apologize sincerely for the delay. I was simple too busy with so many things that happened in the last 2 years. For example, I have relocated my entire life in Uganda. I live here with my partner and child in Kampala, and work as a consultant for various projects that only have limited involvement with stove construction. So for example I am a consulting manager for a small solar startup that wants to enable women in rural areas to save costs for paraffin and telephone charges by using a solar lamp. At the same time, they should gain additional time in the evening due to the very bright light, e.g. generate additional income through tailoring. I also work for potential investors from abroad, doing feasability studies especially in the agriculture sector. Unfortunately, the furnace construction projects do not create an income with which a family could be supplied … at least not most of the time:

But nevertheless, I was always still active whenever I had time with these stove training projects and could reach incredible successes within these 2 years. As my last post indicated “The biggest success” I have so far approach within all my activities I want to tell you today about the implementation of this project:

I submitted this project, together with the german organization “Rwenzori e.V.” (www.rwenzori.eu ; https://www.facebook.com/Rwenzori.ev ) and their partners HDVS – Holy Dove Vocational Secondary School, an application for a training project sponsored by Enabel. Enabel is the Belgian development agency. They support development projects across the globe to eradicate poverty. When inititating this project their name was BTC, which was change then.

The whole project was structured in 4 big Milestones:

  1. On the job training for the students of the Holy Dove Vocational Secondary School to build the infrastructure
  2. Preparation of training for trainers
  3. Training of trainers seminar
  4. Training and Certification of 100 volunteers from the nearby communities

While I wasn’t involved too much into the first milestone of the whole project, the priest responsible for the school, Father Modest and the two project manager of HDVS, Sam and Resty did an increadible job. They planned, reported and implemented a perfect project.

From left: Resty, Deputy HEadteacher HDVS, Fr. Modest, Enabel representative, Sam
Fr. Modest, Sam and Rest in one of the uncountable meetings for the implementation of this project

The three implemented an amazing project together with the students of the HDVS. The own students built the facility of the stove center together with their teachers completely alone. Brick layers, masons, carpenters, painters, welders and electricians worked hand in hand two days per week to build the whole structure themselves. From the basement to the roof, from the electrical work to doors and windows, all was done by the students themselves:

While the team was busy with the infrastructure of the training center, it was busy to prepare the training material for the trainer. We were requested to run a 3 months training for the future trainers. My initial training was compact in order to train women and other volunteers within 3 weeks. But that gave me the chances to go really into the details. I prepared a 4 weeks theoretical training, which included the main topics of health, environment, clayworks and stove technology. When we started the training we first had to experience a small setback. The have of the 8 participants were not able to speak english, and also didn’t seem to be very interested in the program. Lawrence, the leader of this team, is a well educated teacher dedicated to the environment and developing a passion for the stoves from the first moment. I ask him to find a new team and we will start the training a week later.

One week later we were able to start the theoretical training. For 4 weeks, the trainers learned about health, from the basics of respiration to the impact of smoke

We learnt about environment, global warming and deforestation and the consequences.

We also learnt about a knowledge which was quite common in Africa, but due to the introduction of cement materials, lost: Clayworks. Clay is a perfect material for stove constructions, but many people don’t know much about it anymore.

After 4 weeks we finally could change to the more interesting part. The stove construction itself. It included masoning with clay as mortar, chimney constrcutions, stationary family stoves and institutional stoves for schools.

For 2 months we build the stove until is was finished, and disassembled it again, just to build a new one until the process was well understood. We formed bricks, we analysed and mixed the soil, we shifted bricks from here to there….The whole team was dedicated and great. We even succeeded that each participant was arriving IN TIME EVERY MORNING, and when we were done everyone helped together in order to clean up and prepare for the next day. In the end, each and everyone got a certificate and we had a small celebration together.

Onces done with the training, it was time to submit our interims report to receive further fundings for the rest of the project. This process took months, and we couldn’t go further. But finally we got the go ahead and started to train 100 youth (70% women and 30% men) from the sourrounding area. Also these people were very dedicated with the training to learn about the technology and build a stove in their homes. This time, the trainers were doing the training by themselves, they split up the the volunteers and trained always 25 people in a shorter theoretical training and after in the practical buiding training.

All over after more than one year of struggle, we could look back to a very succesful training program. Two of the trainers have become self-employed and are building now stoves in the whole area for plenty of customers. The catholic church is planning a training program for their women groups in order to spread that knowledge also into other areas of the district. I think I am not lying if I call this a sustainable project.

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