Students using the new stoves
Two years ago, we set out to raise $30,000 USD to help pay for better fuels and cooking technologies for six schools in southwestern Uganda in desperate need of energy efficiency. As of the writing of this letter, we are $1,000 USD short of the funds needed to complete this phase of the project. But given your track record of support, we’re more than confident we’ll be able to meet the goal! So, again, thank you in advance for your help!
The six schools are part of the Rubaare Education Foundation, a non-profit that provides low-cost, quality education and scholarships to about 1,800 primary and high school students in the semi-urban district of Rubaare.
We began the project because rising wood and transportation costs meant that the school’s principal, Henry Twinemasiko, had to make severe cuts in his budget. Henry had to choose between reducing the number of scholarships on offer, switch to lower quality food, and put off any kind of maintenance and upgrades for the schools.
Working with Henry, we settled on a two-prong strategy:
- We agreed to transform the abundant and virtually free agricultural waste in the region into char briquettes, which would serve as a suitable substitute fuel for wood and charcoal.
- We also agreed to fundraise to retrofit the school’s cooking stoves to consume less fuel and produce fewer emissions.
Two years and $30,000 USD later, we are pleased to announce that the schools are well on their way to reducing their fuel consumption and cooking cost by almost 50 percent! What’s more, new cookstove technology means the cooking staff does not have to suffer from exposure to toxic emissions.
None of this would have been possible without the generous support of donors like you who helped raise almost a third of the total amount needed. The rest was raised through other private campaigns.
A lot of research and testing went into identifying the right briquetting technology and the best cookstoves for the school. We eventually settled on Peterson Press briquette- making technology and institutional stoves manufactured by Ugastove and Green Bio Energy. Our plan is to continue monitoring and testing the technology and its performance over the next two years.
Another lesson we learned is that REF students need access to illumination for studying at night. This is why we are launching a new project to bring solar-powered electricity for illumination at all the REF schools in the next 24 months. Again, despite the abundant solar projects that exist out there, identifying the right solution for the school is not obvious. Our plan is to research and test the right solution before spending any of our donated funds. You’ll be hearing more about this soon!
Our ultimate goal is to create a source of knowledge that can be shared with all the school districts across the region. To this end, we are partnering with other schools in Uganda that are also interested in cutting their energy costs and boosting access to efficient and renewable energy. We know many other school districts in Uganda could benefit from the knowledge gathered and we plan to share that information.
Our goal for the next two years is to raise $30,000 USD to outfit the Rubaare schools with solar lighting, launch a portfolio of income generating opportunities for the school for the upkeep of the investments, test new energy solutions, and share the knowledge we are gathering with other school districts. How’s that for ambition! Together with Henry we believe the REF schools can serve as models for green schools where the student body can develop skills in renewable energy and clean technologies.
Many friends, friends of friends, family, and friends of family have joined to support our efforts in Rubaare over the past two years. We hope you will continue supporting us!
Sylvia, Henry, and Kim
PS - We want to remind you that 100% of your donations net of bank fees are invested in the programs. No salaries, travel, or hospitality expenses are paid from donations received through Global Giving donations.
PPS - Our project with Henry and the REF schools in Rubaare is linked to a larger program called The Harvest Fuel Initiative (HFI). HFI is a collaboration with D-Lab at MIT. We invite you to find out more about this program by visiting the HFI website harvestfuel.org.