For Christopher Odeke, a subsistence farmer from rural eastern Uganda, one day last December marks the beginning of a new adventure: his first airplane trip.
As a Uganda Red Cross volunteer, Christopher was travelling to the Binga District in northwest Zimbabwe. With the support of the American Red Cross and the Zimbabwe Red Cross, his job was to train the Disaster Management Committee (DMC) of the village Siachalaba on disaster risk reduction in two projects that were first developed in villages of Uganda.
Christopher’s excitement was tenable as he made his way to Entebbe International Airport with several American Red Cross colleagues for the two-day journey to Binga.
The training, which was hosted at a school in Siachalaba, involved a fuel efficient cooking basket. Cooking baskets are used to decrease the rate of deforestation by using less kindle than a normal open fire. The project allows for the cooking of meat or pre-soaked beans in only 30 minutes, followed by an additional two hours inside the locally made insulated basket. The members of the local Zimbabwe disaster committee were very welcoming and eager to get started. Even though a translator was needed, Christopher’s teaching method and enthusiasm were impressive.
The second project covered in the training was an energy-saving Rocket Lorena cook-stove, which also helps reduce the level deforestation and other associated risks. Unlike the basket, the cook-stove is a permanent structure built within an existing home and has a ventilation system to reduce the amount of smoke inhalation.
The local leader of the Zimbabwe disaster committee was the first in the village to have a Rocket Lorena cook-stove.
The day was hot and while there was much to prepare before Christopher and the team get started on the structure, the community members are excited to learn and see all that Christopher has to offer. The completed cook-stove - with its built-in chimney - will need a month to set before it can be used. Christopher has been asked to return to the small village when the time comes to test the stove for the first time.
Christopher’s 10 days in Zimbabwe involved a great deal of work by all involved to get these projects off the ground. For Christopher it has been a soul-enriching experience. This has also been the longest time Christopher has spent away from his family; he has missed them dearly and was eager to make the trip home.