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First United Methodist Church volunteers help with solar ovens

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A group of volunteers from First United Methodist Church of Jamestown recently traveled to Moffit, N.D., to help fabricate solar ovens to be used in Haiti.

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Haiti Solar Oven Partners is a United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Project, founded 14 years ago out of Brookings, S.D., and directed by missionary Rick Jost.

The Moffit workshop is located at the home of Dave and Renae Silbernagel. Each year hundreds of volunteers fabricate and package solar oven parts in the Moffit and Volga, S.D., workshops, preparing them for shipment to Haiti. Teams of volunteers, under the direction of Jost, travel to Haiti each year to live in communities that have invited them. For 10 days, these volunteers work with Haitians to build ovens and educate people about solar cooking under the direction of the Montas and Raymonde Joseph of Haiti.

The concept behind solar cooking has been around for a very long time, but Haiti Solar Oven Partner has improved the technology to create an efficient, sturdy and easy-to-use oven for the people of Haiti. With Haiti’s sunny and hot days, the solar oven is a common-sense and economical alternative to cooking with charcoal. Ovens can reach more than 300˚F, with most foods cooking in two to four hours

Anything a Haitian family cooks with charcoal can be cooked in a solar oven, including meats, rice and vegetables. With a solar oven, a Haitian mother can pasteurize drinking water, protecting her children from life-threatening water-borne diseases. Women and children who tend cooking fires experience fewer burns with solar ovens; and smokeless solar ovens reduce air pollution, a source of lung and eye diseases.

The poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti struggles with environmental depredation as a result of massive deforestation created by the use of charcoal for 95 percent of the cooking done in Haiti. A solar oven offers a Haitian family practical and sustainable self-help in a country of staggering poverty.

HSOP has shipped about 7,000 ovens over its 14 years as a mission. The goal is to deliver 2,300 solar ovens plus hands-on training to Haitian families every year.

The cost of each solar oven is $125.  Donations from individuals and churches cover the majority of the costs of the ovens.

The Moffit HSOP Workshop is located at 11401 Highway 83 SE.

For more information contact Dave and Renae Silbernagel at (701) 391-9468 or (701) 387-4500, or email drsilber@bektel.com or visit haitisolarovens.org.

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