Report on Solar Cooking in in Turkey
Revised Dec 8, 2002 (Original report in Feb ’02 to Rotarian Matthew Brown -- Brownm@rotaryintl.org)
The November 1997 issue of “The Rotarian” magazine had an article on cooking with the sun-featuring Fresno CA Rotary Club member Wilfred Pimentel. In this article titled “Where there is a Wil, there's a Way!” I saw how ideal solar cooking would be for our area. Prevent soil erosion, save fuel and conserve our environment – all together at very little cost. I was chairing our club’s International services then, and wrote letters to all addresses listed in that article.
Adana is Turkey's 4th largest city- population about 1.850.000- located 40 km from the Mediterranean coast in south-central Turkey. There is a very mild climate in the winter but the summers are hot and humid. It is in the fertile Çukurova valley, where citrus, cotton, watermelon and many field crops such as corn and wheat are grown. Migrant workers come to work the fields in the spring-they stay until late fall. In the area, mainly wood and bottled gas are used for cooking - a lot of plants are thus burnt as fuel. Gas gets imported.
In the past 30 years, solar-water heaters have become very popular- especially in southern Turkey where you can see them on almost every rooftop. Solar data indicates the availability of more than 3000 hours of yearly sunshine around Adana.
1997 was snail-mail time. Replies to my letters to the US took a minimum of one month to get back to me. Wilfred promptly wrote back about his interest in coming to Turkey-but he was traveling a lot- so our connection was weak. SCI (Solar Cookers International) of Sacramento CA was another place I was corresponding with- there I found a good friend Ramon Coyle. I started receiving “The Solar Cooker Review” magazines and each issue had interesting news from many countries where sunshine is available.
In Adana July and August gets hotter than 40?C (that's about 100?F your degrees). Ramon was learning Turkish from me and I was discovering solar-cooking through the internet. Answers were almost instantaneous and we were writing back and forth to Canada, California, Rwanda, England, and India from our keyboards.
Rotaract Clubs of both Adana and Seyhan helped as interpreters and course trainers.
The SCI had a lot of written reference material –from where I bought my first WAPI (water pasteurisation indicator) and my first Cookit cost 20 dollars. This piece of foil-coated-cardboard did not look like much- but it worked OK. Ramon was writing me about how easy it was- yet we needed someone with experience.
The story is when this man fell off the minaret and was hurt. His friends rushed to his side and offered to get him a doctor. The man, groaning in pain, insisted on finding someone who had fallen off a minaret instead.
For me the person “who really fell of the minaret” was Rotarian Wilfred Pimentel. A veterinarian by training, Wil and his wife Marie had worked many years in Africa teaching people how to cook with the sun on Fresno Rotary Club's projects.
Tom MacMillan of the Sarnia Bluewaterland Rotary Club came to our rescue. Our two Rotary clubs agreed on a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant project to introduce solar cookers to Adana/ Turkey. Fresno then joined and D.1120 England. Mr. Himansu Basu joined in as well.
Ramon Coyle of the SCI put me in contact with Wilfred again. This time, we had each other's email addresses. After months of writing back and forth we agreed on a date: May 2001. Marie and Wilfred Pimentel -and our dear friend Prof. Barbara Knudson, who was on SCI's board of directors, agreed to be Seyhan Rotary Club's guests in Adana for a whole month. We planned a pilot project- a needs assessment study called Solar Cookers in Turkey 2001.
Our three - all white-haired American guests stayed in our homes and we also took them to see the sights around Turkey. One memorable night was spent in a 1600 year-old 5 star cave hotel in Urgup -Capadoccia in central Turkey. The local Cukurova University (25000 students) Center for the Environment Prof. Hunay Evliya was enthusiastic and provided assistance through her Research Center.
The month of May 2001- much to our dismay- started with rainy days. The Rotary Community Corps in Misis, Adana (a historic small town 23 km east of Adana) was very excited to host our three guests. After training “trainers” of solar cooking for weeks, we finished the pilot study with a feast on May 26 2002 in the Yakapinar schoolyard. More than 300 people tasted delicious chicken, bulgur, stuffed grape laves, stuffed peppers, rice, tea, vegetables, etc all cooked by the sun. 33 shiny Cookits were spread around the schoolyard and they were spectacular. At noon, once the food was cooked and ready, all the black pots were lined on a long serving table- steaming hot.
All 5 Rotary clubs in Adana saw our solar cookers and tasted delicious solar cooked Turkish dishes. Once they tasted the food, all guests and the Misis townspeople were convinced of the magic that solar-cookers can bring to their community.
The end of May was sad. Parting with Barbara, Maria and Wilfred had become very difficult. These three silver-haired-sorcerers had really enchanted the Rotary community in Adana and the folks in Misis with their solar-cooking.
During the farewell party there were voices-toasting each other- and tears in every eye.
As their car was leaving Misis - the women trainers were giving presents and pouring water behind the departing auto...wishing the Pimentels and Barbara to go home as easily as the water flows.
Once again Rotary had brought new hope and friendship to another community.
Our Rotary Foundation (Evanston Il /USA) Matching Grant application was duly prepared in Aug 2001- with Sarnia, Canada Rotary district 1120 England, Fresno California USA all contributing to make Turkish women’s lives easier and to preserve our planet.
It took The Rotary Foundation approval of the 4 country project took until May 2002. The respective clubs deposited their pledges and finally by November 2002 all the money was in the Seyhan Rotary Bank account.
Local interest in solar cooking was established- although in a small number of people and the media was also helping. In the 15 long months that our Solar Cooking in Turkey project was to launch, the Seyhan Rotary Club tried to sustain the public interest by local activities
The Cukurova University Center for Environmental Research, other Rotary and Rotaract Clubs, local black-pot and cookit manufacturers were all quite helpful. In April 2002, we held a big lunch picnic at the University campus and served delicious solar cooked dishes to about 200 people. Two major newspapers reported our activities with color-photos.
In Nov 2001, Rotary District 2430 Governor Ömer Tezcan ordered us 1000 Cookits for the Adapazari Earthquake disaster area. The Turkish Rotary community set up camp in Adapazari right after the Aug 98 Earthquake- where more than 6000 people had died. All clubs helped to provide food and clean water to the survivors in the area. Solar cookers- had they been available at the time- would have helped tremendously to heal and to keep people going at such a needy time. May 2002, two ladies Güler Macun (trainer coordinator) and Şükran Bağcıer were sent from Adana to Adapazari. With help from Past Club Pres Rotarian Atilla Yaman- for 2 days they demonstrated the usefulness of the simple cookers. Local press and the Governor of Adapazari showed great interest.
In the May 2002 Rotary district 2430 Conference held in Göynük, Antalya - the Seyhan Rotary club received The District Community Service Project award – among 85 clubs – by its pioneering works to promote solar cooking in Turkey.
The Adana Rotary Sevensprings(Yedipınar) Center for Handicapped Children provided us with a good urban park- where the families and mothers of handicapped children were given lessons on how to solar-cook. Both Park manager ladies Nagehan and her successor Özlem Savcı are very enthusiastic about our activities.
Among other activities- the Misis Rotary Community center of The Seyhan Rotary Club kept working with solar cooking courses. The Adana Street Children Association ( President Dr Fazilet Aksu) provided another location where street kids were served free lunches. This is a small building near downtown Adana very suitable to serve free hot meals on sunny days.
Temple Solar- with help from Rotarian Wilfred Pimentel and Rotarian Patricia Merryweather is offering to donate a “Villager Sun Oven” to the Seyhan Rotary Club. Our chosen Location: Rotary Sevensprings Center for Handicapped Children. This oven is the most advanced solar cooker (cost to Adana $15.000) that can cook 100 loaves of bread in an hour- shall help arouse public interest better than "Cookit" – named “Gunes Ocagi” in Turkish. This donation has been approved by all participants and Rotary Foundation Matching Grant application has been made.
We will Start solar-cooking lessons for Adana Ladies at the Saydam St
Community Center in Dec 2002. The neighborhood and the families seem very
suitable and many Rotary Clubs- possibly in their rural community centers-
Mersin – 80 km from Adana – wants to start right away.
In May 2003, Prof. Barbara Knudson from USA (on the board of SCI) will be visiting Adana – possibly to introduce box-cookers and to help with progress done on introducing Solar- Cooking to Turkey. Prof. Knudson is also a partner in Solar Household Energy (SHE) Inc – which is another participant helping Turkey become a good partner on our small planet.
We have had our share of obstacles, but our team shall prevail to set an example for other needy communities that will benefit by using the sun’s abundant and free energy.
Abdullah S. Paksoy
Haris Sofradzija/TRF email@example.com