Charity Magazine

Help Provide Stoves for the World’s Neediest

Posted on the 24 March 2012 by Steveliu @charitablegift

Recently I’ve started shopping for appliances. My refrigerator is on the blink, one of my gas burners on my stove is not working, and my dryer motor is on the fritz. Poor me, right?

Well, before I feel too sorry for myself, I received an email from The Paradigm Project talking about families around the world in the areas they serve, from Kenya to Guatemala to Haiti. In many of these places, families don’t even have a simple stove on which to cook. And so what ends up happening is that they end up chopping down wood with which to cook on an open fire. While most of us love a good campfire from time to time, relying on this ancient method of cooking for daily food can be devastating. It ends up in deforestation, where entire forests are cut down and families may have to walk over 10 miles to find wood.

woman in kenya using a stove from the paradigm project

And worse, something we’ve taken for granted in our world of clean burning fuels and microwave ovens is that families cooking the meals end up breathing in enormous amounts of fumes–according to the World Health Organization it can do the equivalent damage to their lungs as smoking 40 cigarettes a day. At least 1.6 million people die from this. All to feed their families. And tragically, indoor cooking is the number 1 killer of children under the age of 5; more children die from smoke inhalation than from AIDS, malaria, poor water, and malnutrition.

And of course, clear cutting of trees damages the environment in these areas as well. Watersheds are wiped away, erosion ends up washing way critical topsoil, and it becomes impossible to grow crops. And ironically, with fewer trees, the CO2 emissions from the burning fires don’t get converted to oxygen, leading to toxic air.

It all seems like a helpless situation, but The Paradigm Project has a truly innovative idea. It designed a stove that is safe and clean to use indoors. It still uses wood fire, but it makes the wood burn many, many times more efficiently and cleaner.

The cost to help a family in the poorest areas of the world afford this stove? Only $40. A tiny, tiny fraction of the price of a new stove at Best Buy, but one that unlike the stove at Best Buy will save and change lives.

One of the things I find most impressive about this charity is that they don’t just give the stoves away for free–they understand that if you just give someone a handout, they really don’t value it (a lesson I wish more charities and even our government would learn). Instead, your $40 goes towards a package for the family to purchase a stove. The package includes training on how to use the stove, marketing, transportation and distribution of the stove, the subsidy to make the stove affordable and the monitoring to ensure the stove is working properly.

Here is a great video, recently released by The Paradigm Project during the Sundance Film Festival, that tells an amazing story.

As you buy the latest gadgets and appliances for your kitchen, do consider spending just a fraction more to pay for a gift that will change and save lives.


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