June 16, 2013
Relief International’s Emergency Response Coordinator, Mary Ana McGlasson, shares a story of a Syrian father, Abu Salaam,* who she meet on her recent visit to Jordan.
Of the more than 500,000 Syrian refugees seeking safety in Jordan, more than 70 percent are living in what we call “the host community.” This means that regular Jordanian families open their homes or rent other non-traditional shelters or land to Syrian families so they can try to survive. Sometimes Relief International teams have found six or more families sharing a small two-bedroom apartment. Sometimes the families pay high rents for unfinished buildings (2-3 cement walls and an unfinished roof without water, plumbing, or electricity. Sometimes, our teams find families who have created their own spontaneous tented villages on the outskirts of town. This is the story of one such family.
Above: Abu Salaam’s grandchildren.
Mafraq is a small town not far from the Syrian border in Jordan. Until 2012, Mafraq was a sleepy border town, conservative by Jordanian standards, and a close-knit community of five to seven extended families. Over the past year, Mafraq has become one of the epicenters of the Syrian refugee crisis internationally, with the largest camp a few miles outside town, and untold numbers of Syrian families living hidden and huddled in storefronts, unfinished buildings, or in spontaneous tented settlements on their own.
As you are driving out of Mafraq, along the desert highway, sitting just behind an old gas station, you can see a small collection of uneven, handmade tents- first there were only three, then five, and so on. A few weeks later, when Relief International’s team stopped in for a regular visit, there were more than ten tents, a homemade outhouse, electrical connections, and a small communal kitchen.
Above: Abu Salaam’s family.
As we drive slowly down the very dusty path, dozens of children come out to greet us, soon followed by the mothers and fathers, and then the patriarch- Abu Salaam.* He is friendly, confident, and gracious, inviting us in for a cup of tea, thanking us each by name for our third visit in less than two weeks. I have an odd memory of the feeling I had when visiting my own grandfather- there is always a place for me at his table- there is always room for one more.
Above: Abu Salaam (far right) and RI field staff.
Abu Salaam* previously worked as a large-scale farmer on his family’s traditional lands near Hama. When the conflict began to escalate in February of 2012, Abu Salaam decided he needed to find a safer place for his large and ever-growing extended family. Abu Salaam has four grown sons and five grown daughters, each with their own families, ranging in size from three to ten children each.
They made the long journey from Hama to Jordan (around 150 miles) through many military checkpoints and countless risks in the winter of 2012, hoping for safety and a better life. What they found when they reached Jordan is that they had two options:
Struggle to survive on their own in Jordanian towns, unable to work and without basic services
Request to live inside the Za’atari Camp, now home to more than 120,000 refugees and the second largest refugee camp in the world
Abu Salaam chose to lead his family to Jordan, and he decided that fending for oneself was more dignified than teaching his family to take handouts inside a refugee camp where they would live an easier life in many ways with food and water rations, provided tents or trailers, easier access to free healthcare, and education for the younger children. For Abu Salaam, this was not an option.
“Teaching my children to beg and to hold out their hands is not the solution. At least here, I can teach them the values that make Syrians strong- the sense of family, the safety of living in community, and the way to work for survival.”
I asked Abu Salaam how he feels about the conditions:
“In Syria, I had a good life, because for generations my family worked the land. We had become quite well known in the region and were exporting to other countries. Now look at us- we live in conditions that are worse than animals in most countries.”
“We cannot work here due to the laws. So all we can do is beg or hold our hand out for assistance. People come and they ask a lot of questions, but no one ever returns with the things we say we need.”
Relief International has a project providing essential hygiene items like soap, laundry powder, diapers, baby clothing, and water storage devices for the most vulnerable families. In a perfect world, we could also provide the refrigerator they need to store the scarce food they are able to obtain in the scorching desert. In a perfect world, we could provide them with enough water to support the large family for one month so that the older children were not forced to go work on adjacent farms instead of enrolling in school.
Abu Salaam told me repeatedly, “You provide us with what we need to survive, but we will never forget the way you sit with us and hear our stories. This is the most important thing you bring to us. You remind us that we have not been forgotten.”
Above: One of Abu Salaam’s grandchildren excited to use the toothbrush provided in the hygiene kit his family received from RI.
Above: A RI hygiene education session with Abu Salaam’s family.
By the time of my last visit in May, Abu Salaam had welcomed several more of his children, recently arrived from behind the front lines, to join his mini-camp behind the gas station.
I asked him if he felt he made the right decision. His reply moved me and I will never forget it.
“Dignity and Honesty- they are always the better choice. If I fail to teach my children this, what kind of father am I?”
*Name has been changed.
To learn more about RI’s programs assisting Syrian refugee families in Jordan and Lebanon, please click here.
June 14, 2013
Relief International’s Social Enterprise intern, Isabelle Savin De Larclause, reports from the field in Ghana where she is working with Gyapa Enterprises, a social enterprise initiative of Relief International. Isabelle offers an intimate look into the lives of the local Gyapa fuel-efficient cookstove manufacturers who are central to Relief International’s project.
I have been in Ghana so far for around three months, working with the Relief International social enterprise project, Gyapa Enterprises. The central product to the Gyapa Enterprises initiative is the Gyapa fuel-efficient cookstove. Gyapa Enterprises launched in 2002 with its Gyapa fuel-efficient cookstove, which reduces our customer’s charcoal consumption by up to 50 percent. This not only saves money but dramatically reduces household air pollution, one of the largest risks of disease in developing counties.
I have managed to visit most production sites around Ghana, and a lot of our retailers. A lot of exciting things have happened whilst I have been here, so it has been a great time to be involved in the project.
Above: Kwame making a Gyapa liner on his potter’s wheel.
Above: A Gyapa liner being formed.
One of the great things I love about the work that happens here in the Ghana is how we support local livelihoods. Through visiting producers of the Gyapa cookstove I have learnt about the different ways Relief International has supported them and helped to expand their business. When I went to Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, I visited Kwame, a ceramist. Through loans and grants, Kwame has been able to grow his production. A significant investment into Kwame’s business allowed him to become connected to electricity, which in turn doubled his monthly output.
Above: Ben, a site leader at a new metal manufacturing site in Sunyani that produces Gyapa cookstoves.
Above: The Sunyani manufacturing site. We have provided loans and grants to develop their site to become the centre of the Brong-Ahafo region’s Gyapa network. This has allowed for a new structure to be built which will allow for many workers to make the metal liners of our fuel- efficient Gyapa cookstove.
While I was in Kumasi, we also visited Ben in Sunyani, who will be our site leader at a new metal manufacturing site. Currently, we are closely working with a team of metal artisans in Sunyani located in the Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana. We are supporting their growth to become a leading production site of our Gyapa cookstoves. We have provided loans and grants to develop their site to become the centre of the Brong-Ahafo region’s Gyapa network. This has allowed for a new structure to be built which will allow for many workers to make the metal liners of our fuel efficient cookstove.
Above: Isabelle with local Relief International staff in Ghana.
To learn more about the Gyapa fuel-efficient cookstove and our Gyapa Enterprise initiative, please click here.
June 7, 2013
Monica Jeannormil reflects on her yearlong experience working with Relief International’s Ghana Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Project (GWASH), a USAID-financed initiative that improves community rural health through the provision of physical facilities, behavior change communications, and capacity building at the household, community, school, local government and local NGO levels.
For the past year, I have served as one of seven Peace Corps volunteers seconded to the Ghana WASH Project though a partnership between Peace Corps Ghana and the U.S. Agency for International Development. I initially began my Peace Corps Service as a Development Advisor in Segou, Mali, but in April 2012, due to a coup d’état, myself and over 200 hundred Peace Corps Volunteers were evacuated to Ghana.
Above: Monica and one of the families she met while working closely alongside Ghanaian communities.
Working for GWASH, I was initially charged with capturing photo and global positioning system (GPS) data on the project’s facilities for monitoring and evaluation purposes to support the development of the GWASH project map. I was also tasked with writing success stories and lesson learned documents to assess and highlight the impacts of the project. These responsibilities provided me the rare opportunity of working closely with local non-government organizations (LNGOs), project field staff, office staff, and the beneficiaries impacted by our project.
GWASH has a working environment that engages the team to use their unique skills to assist in achieving the goal of better water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in Ghana and also improving their sustainability through behavior change communication. In support of the mapping project, I find myself in the field working with our local NGOs that are responsible for triggering our beneficiaries; these activities enabled me to transfer my professional and educational skills to the local NGOs i.e., time management, relationship building, and follow-up.
Also, GWASH enables the team to submit ideas that will improve the process of delivering our goals. Partnering with LNGOs staff, I conducted community inspections and verified the level of progress made at each facility in the community, bringing back valuable information which helped the project become more responsive to the needs of our stakeholders and beneficiaries.
Above: Mrs. Kweku Abbam, who lives in the rural community of Kyiren in Ghana, received a household latrine that was built through the GWASH project.
Working with the GWASH project has increased my awareness of the need for local capacity building and the importance of monitoring, evaluating, and implementing feedback during every step of a project or program. I now more than ever understand the importance of exchanging knowledge with the communities that I work because it builds a relationship built on mutual partnership that creates sustainability and growth.
See the GWASH Project’s impact through the construction of water and sanitation facilities in five regions across Ghana in our project map.
April 9, 2013
Relief International’s WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) Program Manager, Deepa Patel, reports from the field in Jordan with a heartfelt story of how her team came to the aid of a little Syrian girl. Deepa touches upon the immense sense of community, support and trust built between Syrian families and Relief International’s team.
Since January, Relief International’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) team has been working with host communities in North Jordan where nearly no other organization has yet been able to assist. The perseverance of the WASH team to reach the most vulnerable Syrian refugees has meant driving to remote areas, walking far on foot to access households and spending long hours in cold, rough conditions.
One such area is a small rural town, Al Kom al Ahmar, 25 kilometers outside of Mafraq, where many Syrian refugee families are living in abysmal conditions as a means to earn a living by working on farms. Many of the refugee families living in this area escaped Syria over six months ago but where afraid to enter the Za’atari refugee camp and knew of no other way to care for their family except to find whatever work possible. Relief International has been assisting families in this area, providing winter clothing for children, essential hygiene items, health education, child-friendly interactions and general social support.
In the photo above: Relief International Hygiene Promoters on a visit to deliver a hygiene kit to Mumtaz’s* family.
Today, during a routine house-to-house follow up visit, a mother, Mumtaz,* alerted the Relief International team that her two-year-old daughter had fallen into a ditch in the farm where they are living. Two days had passed and the child was in extreme pain, restless and had a high fever. The family is not registered with UNHCR and they were afraid they would be turned away if they went for treatment at a hospital. All of that is beside the point. Living in such a rural area, they have almost no means of getting to a hospital.
Above: Mumtaz* recounts what happened to her daughter.
The Relief International team has always said that they are hygiene promoters but that they also visit the families to provide comfort and support in any way they can. Upon seeing the child and hearing Mumtaz’s concerns, the hygiene promoters who visited her, Dina and Akhram, drove Mumtaz and the child to a hospital in Mafraq. It turned out that the child had a broken arm and an upper respiratory infection and was able to receive excellent treatment.
Above: Relief International Hygiene Promoters, Dina and Akhram, with the little girl, crying, but with her cast and on the road to recovery.
Though we are a small team with limited funding and our ability to aid in the face of such a large crisis can sometimes feel overwhelming, I am proud that the Relief International team goes above and beyond any duty to assist in any way possible. We are more than just a WASH team!
*Name has been changed.
January 22, 2013
The Relief International team recently received this “note from the field” from a camp meeting in the Zam Zam Refugee Camp in Darfur, Sudan, where RI is helping women and families rebuild their livelihoods.
During a meeting of our staff and some members of the community in Zam Zam, the topic of the most important and basic needs of the people came up. This topic spurred a heated and passionate discussion among many of the women in Zam Zam. As they all sat in a circle, with enthusiasm, our staff member started jotting down notes as the women voiced their requests and their concerns about their community’s future.
Together, Relief International and the women of the Zam Zam Camp outlined these basic needs for us to take note of. Simply glancing at their needs, we are humbled.
Some of these basic requests are things that we take for granted as they are readily available to us here at home. Everyone in the world should have the right to these basic necessities. We share this list with you to highlight the resilience and strength of these women.
The note reads (translated from Arabic to the best of our capacity):
“In the name of God the Merciful”
“Demands of newly displaced people from the area of “immigrants” to the Zam Zam Camp”
“1 - Widening the narrow roads, at the time of fire, roads become dangerous
2 - Improving the level of health in the new camp
3 - Educating children and giving attention to adult literacy
4 - Building latrines in the new camp
5 - Building 5 [grain] mills and peeler (scaler)
6 - Providing building materials, blankets and tents
7 - Providing kitchen utensils and clothes”
8 - Providing groceries and food supplies due to the lack of firewood for cooking
9 - Provide generators for lighting the camp
10 - Providing drilling equipment
11 - Providing the basic essential needs of the people in their daily lives”
January 18, 2013
The Emergency Response Coordinator, Mary Ana McGlasson, reports from the field in the Za’atari Refugee Camp, Jordan, where Relief International is providing life-saving relief.
Syria. I don’t know why it grabbed my attention so quickly-with so many disasters and tragedies happening around the world simultaneously, why did this one weigh so heavily on my mind? In the wake of the Arab Spring, there were plenty of stories of triumph and tragedy, but somehow, I found this one occupying a lot of my quiet thoughts. In August, the total numbers of refugees went from a steady trickle to a full-blown population exodus, doubling the numbers of refugees fleeing regionally, and forcing countless Syrians to run for safety within the country’s borders. By September, it was widely believed that there was no safe place for civilians inside Syria.
In the photo above, Mary Ana and and a little girl she met while working in the Za’atari Camp.
In response to this rapid influx of refugees, I deployed to Jordan to assess the situation within the newly-built Za’atari Camp and urban communities of Jordan near the Syrian border. Despite working day and night with little sleep, I found myself with constant motivation, and an unexplainable connection to the 15-month old crisis. It felt so good to actually be doing something, instead of sitting by and watching what could be one of the greatest tragedies in recent history.
I have now spent most of the past several months on the ground here in Jordan. The refugees here are middle-class, primarily educated people. Until weeks or months ago, they had modern houses with cars, bathrooms, kitchens. Now they live in tents, in the cold and windy desert, with winter worsening every day. Many people have shoes that are worn through from a long and difficult journey and they have no winter clothes.
Each day, when I walk through the camp, I am always shocked by two things: the harsh conditions of the camp and the unwavering generosity and hospitality of the people living here. Despite living through incredible tragedy and violence, often losing more than a few family members along their treacherous journey, I was invited into countless homes and I drank literally dozens of cups of tea and coffee. Sitting and drinking tea and listening to stories of survival, while sharing a quiet moment of solidarity is certainly one of the most important things I can do with my time.
In many tents, mothers have fashioned small shrines with photos of sons, daughters, and husbands in the corner, and they share with me stories of separation or worse. They share openly about the things they have seen and experienced, and it is important for them to help me understand that just weeks or months ago, they were living in houses with bathrooms and nice kitchens. One woman, Hanna*, traveled to the camp without her husband, 8 months pregnant, and with four other children by her side. She explained to me that she finds it difficult every day to learn how to live without the support of her husband, and without running water, winter clothing, privacy, and a sense of safety. “I don’t know how to live like this- in Syria, I had a nice house, a car, and a big kitchen. Now I share a kitchen with 20 other families, and my children cry because they are cold at night.”
During the New Year, families took time to pause and be thankful, but always with the caveat that they hope in 2014 they will be celebrating again in Syria with reunited families. “Isha’allah,” or “God willing,” they say, with brave faces, choking back tears.
We can hope, together-we can all hope that the crisis is resolved and the Syrian people can return to their homes to rebuild and live peacefully. But in the meantime, Relief International is doing everything we can to reduce suffering and provide hope.
What would you do if you were traumatized, cold, and out of your element, in a foreign place, with only icy water to wash yourself? There are at least 3500 families (about 17,500 people) without sufficient hygiene items-soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, etc. Yet, you are not permitted to leave the camp to go to the normal market in the neighboring town, and while there is a substantial market growing up within the camp, the available cash to make purchases is extremely low, and the price of soap is relatively high (almost $5 per bar of soap, compared with an average daily wage of $10 per day for those few who can find paid work within the camp, which is probably less than 1 percent.)
All I can offer now is my own inexhaustible passion and labor for this cause, and a small bar of soap. They need shoes, socks, mittens, underwear…heaters, fuel, and hope.
To learn more about RI’s life-saving relief programs assisting Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, please click here.
*Name has been changed.
November 18, 2012
Senior Program Officer, Virginia Zaunbrecher, writes from Darfur, Sudan, about how Relief International programs are keeping people alive and helping them move on with rebuilding their livelihoods.
Darfur is a place that is stuck in the middle. There is still too much conflict for most people to return home, but there is too little conflict to garner public attention. As aid workers, we find ourselves trying to triage the situation, and at the same time look for opportunities to help people move ahead. Two of the people I have met so far exemplify this dynamic.
Relief International is a primary care provider for a population of approximately half a million people in North Darfur, including 164,000 displaced persons. When visiting one of our malnutrition treatment centers in the Zam Zam camp for displaced persons last week, I met 18-month-old Fatima. She was, bluntly stated, the most malnourished child I have ever seen. She was tested for appetite and fed ready to use therapeutic food—popularly known as Plumpy-Nut. She was also referred to the main state hospital 15 km away because she required substantial medical treatment, but that is an extremely long way for her mother to travel with her, especially given that there are other children at home that need attention.
When I visited again this week, I was told that Fatima’s mother had not taken her to the hospital—a “defaulter” in nutrition program terms. Relief International outreach workers are contacting Fatima’s mother and encouraging her to visit the RI clinic (closer than the main site hospital)—which is no small feat in this maze of 164,000 people. Relief International has plans to open a stabilization center that can treat malnourished patients in the Zam Zam camp by 2013, so children like Fatima don’t have to travel for life-saving services.
Above, Staff weigh malnourished children at Relief International’s nutrition center in the Zam Zam Camp.
Just a short distance away at the Hassenfeld Community Center, I met someone who exemplified how the people of Darfur are trying to move forward. Saida is a widowed mother of five, whose husband was killed in the conflict. She fled to the Zam Zam three years ago with her children when they were forced from their village by fighting. Saida’s leg is injured, so she is unable to work as a day laborer, which severely limits her options. Undeterred, Saida hopes to provide a better life for her children. While they are at school, Saida visits the library at the Community Center. She studies books on work skills and English to improve her chances of getting a job. When Relief International was stocking the library, we asked the community what kind of books would be most useful. It is telling that their first request was items that could improve the capacity of people to find work.
Above, Saida (right, dressed in black) uses the library at the Community Center in the Zam Zam camp along with other women displaced by conflict.
Relief International staff find stories like this throughout North Darfur, and our programs here reflect that. We provide basic life-saving health and nutrition services; at the same time we are developing a livelihoods program to help displaced people move forward, despite the challenging situation. And every day we hope we encounter fewer Fatimas and have the privilege to meet more Saidas.
RI’s programming in Darfur is supported by the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, the Common Humanitarian Fund, and individual donors.
October 9, 2012
Relief International’s board member, Ellen Frost, reflects on her visit to the field in Ghana this past September where board members held one of their quarterly meetings and got an exclusive look at RI’s ground-breaking programs in social enterprise and water, sanitation, and hygiene through field visits.
For members of Relief International’s board of directors, there is nothing like seeing projects firsthand to realize the contribution that Relief International is making to help people escape from poverty in places like Ghana. Imagine the scenes: Peter – a shy, soft-spoken Ghanaian – and his three assistants sitting under a tree at the edge of the Accra city dump, hammering scrap metal into charcoal-efficient cookstoves. At another location, a man is shaping ceramic stove filters using a foot-operated potter’s wheel, while another man punches out ventilation holes. At a third site, the filters are fired in brick ovens fueled by wood and corn cobs. These jobs provide livelihoods to a large number of people. All in all, there are 450 manufacturers and 500 vendors of these stoves, and the market continues to grow.
In the photo above, Peter and his assistants busy at work as Relief International videographer, Carlos, focuses in for the perfect shot.
Above, a ceramicist uses a foot-operated potter’s wheel to delicately craft a Gyapa liner.
Above, Gyapa liners equipped with ventilation holes, wait to dry before they are sent off to the kiln.
At a market stall that we visited, one vendor summarized what she tells customers when she recommends Relief International-sponsored stoves: “Same price as the others but saves lots of money.” The stoves cut charcoal consumption in half, thereby easing pressure on household budgets and reducing pollution – and they earn carbon credits as well.
In the photo above, some energetic children from a school that board members visited.
Another Relief International project of a different sort centers on clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (“WASH”). Here, the goals are both “hard” and “soft” – to purify or recycle water, build and install latrines, to teach people why they should use them and how they should adopt sanitary procedures such as washing their hands. Since children learn quickly and are natural crusaders, schools are a special target. Board members visited two schools, both of which were bursting with bright-eyed, giggly, energetic children. Also,we visited a group consisting of three long-robed tribal elders, the head of the local youth committee, and a woman who serves on the local water committee. The elders made it clear that the whole community was involved in addressing the community water, sanitation, and hygiene issues.
In the photo above, two smiling boys who hope to become part of their school’s hygiene club that Relief International helped establish.
The board members were impressed by the high quality and dedication of Relief International’s field staff as well as by what we saw at each site. We came away feeling hopeful and encouraged.
October 3, 2012
Development Director, Mark Dawson, reflects on his first visit to Relief International’s Ghana programs where he meet some unforgettable locals whose lives have been changed through Relief International’s innovative grassroots based approach to development.
I just returned from a trip to Ghana, where Relief International’s board of directors had their quarterly meeting and several opportunities for field visits. The Relief International staff, all local with a very few exceptions, are impressive: smart, devoted, hard-working, collegial, and proud to be a part of Relief International. It was a privilege to meet them and to see the fruits of their good efforts. As we traveled around, meeting many beneficiaries of our work, it was wonderful to witness the relationships that Relief International staff have with those whose lives we are working to improve. Their mutual affection and respect towards each other was always evident.
Above, children excited about Relief International’s visit to their school.
One afternoon we met Peter, who, for nine years, has been assembling and selling the cook stoves that Relief International’s EnterpriseWorks division designed and has so successfully marketed. His business has grown to one that now employs ten people, each of whom was clearly happy to have a livelihood. Upon meeting Peter I was immediately a fan, due to his endearing personality and loving management of his team. His plot of land, where the assembly of dozens of stoves takes place six days a week, is on the edge of a vast landfill. Acres and acres of refuse and waste surround Peter and his “boys.”
In the photo above, Peter Atta demonstrates to Development Director, Mark Dawson, and Advisory Board Member, Pamela Ogor, how he assembles the metal parts of a Gyapa cookstove.
Above, Peter and Pamela take a moment to smile for the camera.
Above, a ceramicist shows Relief International board member, Keith Allman, how to craft a ceramic liner for the Gyapa on the pottery wheel.
Along the perimeter of the dump we saw several merchants, each of whom had gathered his or her particular specialty: rubber, tin, glass, all of which would be sold to a recycler. As with Peter, I was amazed by how enterprising, industrious, and resourceful these people were, and by how they had transformed a landfill into a center of commerce.
In the photo above, a local Ghanaian school where Relief International hosts its hygiene and sanitation programs.
Above, children part of a hygiene club established by Relief International at their school. These children lead in the enforcement of healthy hygiene habits around their school and at home with their families.
Another lasting impression was the children. We had the chance to visit more than one school, where Relief International has water and sanitation programs. The students were articulate, bold, confident, and welcoming, with an insatiable desire to learn. They peppered with me questions: about Relief International, life in the United States, English vocabulary, the distance from Accra to Los Angeles, and whether I could visit their school every day. They introduced me to their “brilliant friend who is going to be president of Ghana one day;” another, who draws and paints beautiful pictures, and aspires to see his work in a museum; a soccer devotee, who quizzed me about my knowledge of famous athletes; and their math teacher, whom they adore. Their gratitude for Relief International was abundant. The spirited nature of these children animated my spirit, and even now a broad grin opens across my face as I think of them and remember their winning smiles.
In the photo below, the ambitious children who peppered Mark with questions about Relief International and life in America.
September 28, 2012
Relief International’s Social Enterprise Officer, Meagan Sutton, reflects upon her visit to the field in Ghana where Relief International’s EnterpriseWorks division has developed a locally based fuel-efficient cookstove manufacturing and distribution program.
I recently traveled to Accra, Ghana to meet our Gyapa Enterprises team and tour our production sites of the Gyapa Enterprises’ flagship product, the fuel-efficient Gyapa Cookstove. On the first day of the tour, we visited a manufacturer, Peter Atta, who has a small team of eight staff. To access his production site, we had to walk through a landfill until we approached a small banana plantation, a welcome break from the heaps of trash. In this limiting space, Peter and his team are able to produce about 10 percent of all Gyapa stoves on the market. When we arrived, Peter and a colleague were painting the stoves using a new machine that sprays paint onto the stoves, saving time over hand-painting. They stack the stoves one on top of the other for efficient spraying.
The photo above shows Gyapa Cookstoves in midst of the manufacturing process.
Later that day, we visited Addison in North Kaneshi in Accra. Addison is a ceramist who produces liners for the stoves and sells them to Peter. Addison joined Gyapa in 2006 and is a ceramist by trade, having exported pottery to Europe in his past. Addison uses a mechanized press he built himself that presses the liners into the appropriate mold. He typically produces 1500 to 2000 liners per month.
In the photo above, clay being prepared for the Gyapa cookstoves.
It was absolutely inspiring to meet both Peter and Addison, and to see the hard work and perseverance behind the quality and success of the Gyapa stove. The Gyapa stove not only improves indoor air quality and saves money for its users (among other benefits), but the localized producer network provides livelihoods to 450 manufacturers and 5 ceramist teams. We are always looking for ways to support our producers’ businesses through capital loans and training, and it was highly rewarding to meet Peter and Addison and observe their successful production.
A woman using her Gyapa Cookstove.