Stories of Change

A safe, clean new stove for the kindergarten in Phuc Than commune.

Fuel-efficient, clean stoves for schools in Vietnam

Fixing lunch for a school every day is a big job. It’s even harder when you’re trying to cook food on a dirty and inefficient stove that fills the air with smoke.

That’s why our team in Vietnam offers training courses on building efficient stoves for school kitchens. Hung, 33, recently completed one of these courses along with his friend Giang. They accepted an invitation to join a CWS-led workshop in the fall of 2018. Hung had years of experience building houses, so our team thought he would be a good candidate for the course. Even though the workshop was being held in a school in another commune that was more than an hour away by motorbike, Hung made the effort to attend.

Hung quickly realized that building fuel-efficient, non-polluting stoves requires specialized technical knowledge. It was a different set of expertise than he had from his background building houses. He listened carefully and studied the construction drawings, but he still wasn’t sure that he fully understood how to build the stove…until he had a chance to try it for himself.

Alongside the other participants, Hung built two stoves in the school where the workshop was held. The workshop leader observed him closely, offering guidance and explanation when needed. That’s when it really sunk in, and Hung’s confidence grew.

Now, Hung is building stoves for families and schools. It means that he can earn a better living to provide for his family. Plus, it makes a huge difference for the people using the new stoves. One of the stoves that Hung built is in Phuc Than commune’s kindergarten in northern Vietnam. The district Education Department paid for the stove (we often team up with the local government to help our programs reach more people). Hung was proud to show our team his handiwork during a recent visit to the school, where the kitchen is in much better shape now that it has its new stove.