“Haiti, once one of the most prosperous French colonies, Pearl of the Antilles, today is amongst the poorest countries in the world, devastated by a serious ecological catastrophe,” says Ronald La Rêche, ex-deputy and candidate for the senate of Mont Organizé. Thousands of people live without access to traditional forms of energy such as electricity and gas. The constant recourse to firewood has led to to deforestation, which has a direct negative impact on climate change, causing desertification and progressive diminishment of the water supply. This led to the idea of supporting the Haitian population with the help of renewable energy, especially solar energy.
The “Cucine solari per Mont-Organizé Project was conceived by the AFN, an association inspired by Focolare values – in collaboration with PACNE (Action contre la Pauvreté du Nord Est), the NationalMicrocredit Entity, the Agriculture Department of the Università degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II” , Tesla I.A. Ltd., and the SIOI (Società Italiana per l’Organizzazione Internazionale). Its goal is to introduce solar power cookers in the centres that are supported by AFN in the Mont-Organisé Haiti territory of Mont-Organisé.
The solar cooker uses very simple technology, easy maintenance and installation, and it is possible to learn how to assemble it on site, favoring its dissemination amongst the community. It consists of a device based on a system of solar concentration. Through a lens, solar energy is transformed into thermal energy which is then stored in a battery.
The project was presented on July 4, 2015 at the “Cucine Solari, una risposta alle problematiche dei Paesi in via di sviluppo,” of EXPO di Milano 2015 in the Cascina Triulza-Civil Society Pavillion. President of the AFN, Andrea Turatti, explains: “The process we propose would use the solar cooker in schools, with the help of the AFN in Mont- Organizé, a rural area in the borough of Ouanaminthe, North-East Haiti. The next steps will be to train the teachers who, in turn, will train families and involve the local population in microcredit projects.”
Attention to green technologies and overall sustainability were among the innovation cited by Luigino Bruni, professor of Economics at the University of Rome (LUMSA), and coordinator of the Economy of Communion. Then there is “the exploitation of local resources (such as the sun), the materials at the site, and the involvement of the population.” The economist said: “This is where the true success of the project is played out. It will work to the extent in which it is seen as a true opportunity by the local population.”
Focolare president, Maria Voce, wrote: “The Cucine solari” project is in sync with the teachings of Pope Francis who has focused attention on the environment, making integral ecology the main focus of his encyclical letter Laudato si’, that is, the relationship beteen nature and the people who live in it. [. . .] This project that is founded on care for the environment and sustainable development from within the communities that benefit, can offer valid answers to the urgent problems of the country. The project seeks a resolution to the environmental crisis, health, nutrition, and energy supply with an eye toward the basic needs of the most weakest and most vulnerable. It utilises solar energy, while being mindful and respectful of the local culture, offering opportunity for development and social inclusion of the most disadvantaged, such as the children who receive support and education in Focolare schools.