Rocket stoves are not a new concept, but expensive electricity and load shedding mean everyone is thinking creatively about cooking.

We use Isitofu – a neat, pellet fed stove that is an effective and inexpensive cooking solution but also generates safe, clean heat. The pellets are made of waste from sawmills and other biomass that might otherwise go to waste.

r isitofu pot

There is no need to buy gas and paraffin for cooking anymore so for people without access to electricity, the benefits in terms of time and money are incredible too. Girls can go to school rather than collect wood, women can do other activities rather than making fire and watching food cook all day, there is less smoke inside homes and the financial benefits of buying less fuel are obvious. There is a huge positive impact on deforestation in less developed places.

Living in a community where there are often power cuts, it is great to be in possession of Isitofu which needs so little fuel and astonishes neighbours with its cooking! Long cooking things like samp and beans are soaked overnight, set on the stove to boil in the morning and then finished off in the Wonderbag or SunStove. Isitofu is used to cook sugar beans, tripe, vegetable curries, ijeqe (dumpling) with just a little wood that can be collected from gardens or roadsides, or even better, a cup full of pellets.

r isitofu

In cold weather the multi-purpose power of the Isitofu works well as a heater (imbawula) with the bonus of little smoke.

Isitofu (and Wonderbags) are available from the PlanetPellet Hut in the Community Garden.

r planet pellet hut

Olga Maseko

When Olga Maseko retired in 2007 she decided that that was the last day she would hear a hungry child crying and started the Sizanani Feeding Scheme.

r olga masekoNow she and a small group of volunteers make lunch for 120 orphans and needy children in Mpophomeni every day. “It is so difficult to learn with an empty stomach, you can’t concentrate or participate, all that needs energy.” she says with determination. Local businesses donate food regularly and she recalls only one day in all these years where she was worried that there would be nothing to feed the children. “I came early to the kitchen and was sitting quietly wondering what I was going to say to the children when I heard a voice outside. I opened the door and there was a big truck with mielie meal, cabbage, butternut and potatoes – lots of wonderful food for us, my prayers were answered.”

r olga maseko and pot

They have started a little veggie garden too, so that there are fresh greens to add to the stew every day. They do not peel vegetables, even the butternut, knowing that much of the nutrition is stored close to the skin. “This saves a lot of work too!” she laughs.

Knowing that, even if your stomach is full, it is very difficult to grow up without getting love, Olga offers a shoulder to cry on and listens to the often painful stories that the children have to tell.

r olga and volunteers 3