Darfur refugee women face assault and unspeakable violence when they leave the refugee camps to gather firewood for cooking. In order to reduce the incidence of these attacks, the Solar Cooker Project provides solar cookers to women and girls reducing their dependence on firewood, thus eliminating the need for them to leave the camp.
Some women in the camps are paid to assemble the cookers and to train each family in the camps in their use.
The Solar Cooker Project is currently serving the families in three refugee camps. Our goal is to bring solar cooking to each of the 12 camps in Chad. Each donation of $30 allows JWW to support one refugee family by providing two solar cookers, necessary accessories and training.
Photographs by Barbara Grover
Shocked by revelations of mass killings in Darfur, Sudan, and remembering the Holocaust and the many genocides following it, Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis challenged the Jewish people to honor the promise made following the Holocaust -- that "Never Again" would we be silent in the face of genocide. With that challenge, JWW was established in October 2004, as a Jewish response to the horrors being perpetrated by human beings against others. This powerful collaboration of Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform synagogues is dedicated to the mandate that we will “never again” stand by observing acts of inhumanity. Rather, we will educate and activate our community to rise up against such unspeakable acts. We will take responsibility for mobilizing the community and for helping to care of the victims of inhuman abuses.
The Solar Cooker Project is a project of Jewish World Watch (JWW), an organization that works to mobilize synagogues, their schools, their members and the community to combat genocide and other egregious violations of human rights around the world through education, advocacy, and refugee relief.
JWW’s long term goal is to stop the genocide in Darfur and return the refugees to their homeland and a life as they knew it before the horrors began. This takes many steps and unfortunately cannot happen overnight. Our short-term goals will hopefully all lead up to the end of this atrocity, in three areas. First, we are educating the community. This has made a huge difference as the more people know; the easier it is to take leaps toward our long-term goal second, we advocate for a change by speaking to our leaders People in power, such as senators, governors and ambassadors, can have a great impact but it is our responsibility to make sure that this is on their agenda. When President Clinton was asked why he did not do anything to stop the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, he said that no one called or wrote to him saying that it was important. Now we must call, write, sign petitions, raise our voices to be sure that our leaders hear us and take action. Another goal is to raise money for refugee relief. The Solar Cooker Project is a powerful part of our refugee relief efforts.
We are a grassroots organization made up of of people all over the U.S. who are working tirelessly everyday to help people in Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo stay safe and regain their hope for the future. These are people we will probably never meet, who have a completely different lifestyle, religion, education and life and yet we feel an obligation and commitment to help end their suffering and rebuild their lives.
Fasia has three children of her own and takes care of two others whose parents were killed in Darfur. She would go out of the camp every other day to collect firewood to cook the rations her family was given by the World Food Programme. Sometimes, she would send her 12-year old daughter to collect the wood even though she knew there was a risk of rape or attack. She simply had no choice; all rations received are items that must be cooked including beans, rice, and macaroni. When the solar cookers first appeared in her camp she was curious but didn’t believe food could be cooked without a fire. She resisted being trained until one day she decided to at least see what all the talk was about. She participated in the training of the cooker and when she saw the rice cooked after two hours in the sun with no fire she was convinced.
She now uses the cooker every day for lunch. Most days she is able to cook food for dinner in the cooker, transferring the pot to her insulated hay basket, which keeps the food warm until later in the evening. She has become an advocate for the cookers and tells her neighbors about the good taste of the food. She has reported other benefits as well: she loves that she no longer gets dirty from the smoke of the fire; her eyes do not water; and she coughs much less often than she used to when she stood over the smoke and fire to cook her food. Most importantly, she and her twelve year old daughter do not have to risk attack by leaving the camp to collect firewood.
Faisa is just one of thousands of women being helped by The Solar Cooker Project. Thankfully, the women and children in the Iridimi, Touloum, and Oure Cassoni refugee camps are leaving the safety of the camp 86% less than they were before they had solar cookers.
There are a many ways to get involved. To promote the Solar Cooker Project we have a PowerPoint presentation, a 6 minute documentary about the project and other ideas for any event or program you want to host. We are happy to send you materials including a solar cooker to display at your event.
Teens across the country have come up with their own ways to raise money for the Solar Cooker Project. One teen paints rocks and sells them for $1 each, raising over $5000 so far! Another makes jewelry and donates her profits to the project. Other teens have made pot holders to send to the camps, have held bake sales, sold donuts for Darfur, hosted a movie night and more. Use one of these ideas or come up with one of your own!
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