I last wrote about this about 10 days ago. Already there has been progress, mostly at the level of building communication.
People who know me know that I take on many projects. Sometimes with considerable success, sometimes getting nowhere. One of my main accomplishments was setting in motion the restoration (currently happening thanks to much help!) of the last surviving synagogue in the town of Rezekne in Latvia where my family came from.
Now I have initiated the Abayudaya Solar Cooker project. The idea is to provide solar or high efficiency cook stoves to a community in the Mbale region of Uganda that includes Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities. These communities were once at odds with each other with the Jewish community in particular being persecuted...in fact Idi Amin nearly wiped them out.
Since then, the Jewish community (called the Abayudaya) has focused on projects that bring benefits to all members of the area whatever their tribal or religious affiliation. For example, school lunch programs for schools that cater to all religious groups. And they have started a coffee cooperative that involves and provides income for all members of the community. You can buy this amazing coffee, called Mirimbe Kawomera, or "Delicious Peace," from Thanksgiving Coffee. I highly recommend it!
This is all an example of cooperation among diverse people in a part of the world that has all too often fought over their differences.
While reading about the Abayudaya I noticed that they have a problem that afflicts many communities around the world: the use of cook stoves that use large amounts of wood or charcoal and fill the women's lungs with smoke, causing endemic respiratory problems. Efficient or solar cook stoves are ways of providing better technology to a community, reducing deforestation, and improving women's health. I have decided to try and bring this improved technology to the Abayudaya and their neighbors. I have established a collaboration among four key organizations: Kulanu, Jewish World Watch, Solar Cookers International, and the Abayudaya Women's Association. Together we have accomplished our first goal. Now we are trying to combine our talents to fundraise, network, build a project plan and bring hot food to schools and clinics in the Mbale region while improving women's health and reducing deforestation.
Today I want to introduce you to Norah Nantabo, president of the Abayudaya Women's Association who is now my main partner in this project.