Friday, May 11, 2012

The Ten Dollar Stove

Yusuf Tura is a man with an interesting story.  Several interesting stories, in fact.  There is the story of his escape from Ethiopia…his redemption in the United States…his vision for a safer world.  They are all threads in the quilt of one man’s life.  That man is Yusuf Tura.
When Tura was young, he left Ethiopia for the relative safety of a refugee camp in Kenya.  The conditions were anything but comfortable, but compared to the horror he was fleeing, it was everything.  When Tura arrived in the United States, the shelter he was taken to seemed like a luxury hotel…his own bed, clean bathrooms, and as much food as he could eat.  And he could eat.

There are too many people who have stories similar to Tura’s.  It is our collective shame as a planet that we allow our brothers and sisters in other lands to suffer and starve.  Tura decided to do something about the problem.  He set his sights on one very simple, ten dollar solution to a very big problem.

Tura is the inventor of the ‘Ten Dollar Stove’.  People all over the world suffer from eating food cooked, inside, over a wood fire.  The air is polluted, many suffer horrible burns, and firewood is so scarce that much of the day is spent looking for fuel.  And it is taken anywhere it can be found…from palm fronds to trash dumps. 

That is only a piece of the problem.  In the quest for wood, forests are decimated.  Vast areas of woodland are flattened because of the need to solve an immediate problem: how to eat, how to stay warm. 

Tura decided a simple stove was the answer, and he went to work.  After researching and experimenting, he devised a simple stove, made of sheet metal, that houses a briquette made from waste materials.  The stove costs ten dollars.  The briquettes a small handful of change.  And they will burn safely for four hours.

This is by no means the end of the story.  No, this is the beginning.  Tura provides jobs in his homeland, where the stoves are constructed, but aside from his co-workers, most cannot afford the ten dollars for a stove.  Many trade crafts that they make…and Tura must now figure out how to turn this into profit with which to expand his vision.

There are many people that talk about helping those in need.  There are many people who talk about saving the environment.  Tura is accomplishing both these things for less that the average American spends on food in a day. 

No, the story is not over.  It is just beginning.  And you can help be a part of the change.  Donate, spread the word, be aware of what is being done.  And by sharing your time and awareness, this project will succeed and Tura’s vision will become a reality.  Safe stoves.  That doesn’t seem like a lot to ask for.  But for many it is the difference between life and death.