Ok ok, so my blogs have been admittedly a little lame of late!
So I thought I’d give you an update on my EWB (Engineers Without Borders)project!
A recap: Our project is to help people who cook and sell food (caterers) in informal settlements, specifically, Nyanga on the Cape Flats. They are currently using wood treated with copper-cromate-arsenic which is not good for their health. So we’re bringing in stoves that are really energy-efficient and use a lot less wood! Hopefully these savings, along with education, we’ll be able to convince the community members to switch over to natural wood!
So we’ve forged relationships with four key catering families who have agreed to help us test the stoves and give us information about their businesses. In the community in question, this proved to be quite a process. We had to go in using a trusted member of the community as a translator. Jack from SHAWCO is great and has been the greatest help. RESPECT is something that is direly important in their culture and we had to approach the head of each household (matriarch) to explain what we were doing, and humbly ask for her permission to continue research.
Its a very humbling experience working with people living in these circumstances: when they invite us into their homes, little more than a tin shack with overturned buckets and crates as furniture; 5 or so friendly eyes and teeth staring out at you from the dark corners; hands outstretched and splayed for warmth from the fire emanating from the drum in the middle of the floor (burning treated wood)…strangely,I don’t feel foreign! Nyanga is the area with the highest murder rate in the country! Yet I don’t feel afraid. There is a sense of belonging, of welcome and of purpose. I feel like I am a part of something larger. I feel the ground below my feet expand, and I get an idea of how vast this country really is..how little of it we experienced locked away in our silver towers!
So apart from keeping good relations with the community, we’ve ordered our stoves and they’re getting shipped over as we speak (taking forever but o well)…We should get them soon to start testing asap! Can’t wait!