Shem Women's Group - empowering Tibetan women and their communities through grassroots development

Reports

Solar Cookers for Yehe Village
Project Manager: Gawangjyid (Maybelle)

project manager

This project is to provide 50 solar cookers for 50 households in Yehe Village to reduce women’s labor and improve the living condition in Yehe village.

The Shambala Connection funded this project

Gawangjyid is from Yehe Village, Cuozhou Township, Jiantsa County, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, China. She is working towards an Associates Degree in English at Qinghai Normal University Nationalities Department’s English Training Program.

What? 50 solar cookers for Yehe Village

Who? Yehe Village, Cuozhou Township, Jiantsa County, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Provinve.

Photos of project implementation

photo 1
The solar cooker truck arrives at Yehe village and the villagers gather around the truck enthusiastically.

photo 2
The villagers start to unload the solar cookers.

photo 3
They are unloading the solar cookers one by one very carefully, because they think they are very important.

photo 4
Dela, Luojay and Xiana are counting the components to make sure there are 50 of them.

photo 5
The village leader and my uncle are calling each family head’s name to get the solar cooker.

photo 6
Dorma Jal family is carrying their solar cooker to their home.

photo 7
A villager is signing for her solar cooker with her fingerprint.

photo 8
The factory worker is instructing how to use the solar cooker in Tsering Dorma’s home.

Project summary

Project title: Solar Cookers for Yehe Village

Project goals:

  • To solve the deforestation problem that is causing less raining and serious soil erosion.
  • To solve the fuel problems.
  • To solve the women’s disease such as hunchback, backaches and sore feet.
  • To not pollute the air.
  • To reduce fire risk.
  • To increase the school attendance.
  • To reduce family quarrels.

Location of project: This project was located in Yehe Village, in the north of Maketang (county town), Jiantsa County, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, and People’s Public of China. It is about 180 kilometers away from Xining (the capital city of Qinghai) Yehe is an agricultural and nomadic village with 70 families (all Tibetan). 50 families are located at the foot of mountain in the valley where they farm. 20 families are located on the mountainside where they herd livestock.

Total beneficiaries: 350 people of Yehe Village.

Implementation organization/individual: Gawangjid (Maybelle), Lorwang, Dorjay, Tseringzhoma and Dobi and the village leader, and Shem Women’s Group.

Contact Person: Michelle Kleisath

Funds received: Source, Amount, and Date Received

The Shambala Connection gave 6,000 RMB on Friday, 1st of December 2006.

Details of project activities

Originally planned project activities

  1. Have a meeting with the family leaders (men and women) to collect information of their urgent needs or biggest problems. (I did this)
  2. Choose four people to take responsibility for any kind of work related to the project. One person is our village leader, named Aldan. Another is a man named Lorwang. He often takes care of the village and villagers respect him. Two other are village women named Tseringzhoma and Donbi. (I discussed this with the villagers and they said they would do the work if the project was funded)
  3. Find the solar cooker company selling the cheapest and best quality cookers and make sure we know how much it will cost per solar cooker. This step has already been completed, and we will use the Dahejia Solar Cooker factory because of their great reputation and history of success.
  4. Write project proposal. (Completed)
  5. Find a Donor for funding and send the proposal.
  6. Hold a meeting with villagers (men, women and children), and discuss each person’s contribution of labor (e.g. carry solar cookers to the village, unload them from the truck and set them up for each family, take responsibility for not damaging the solar cookers.)
  7. Have a meeting with Lorwang, Dorjay, Tseringzhoma and Dobi to arrange a time to carefully carry the solar cookers.
  8. Purchase the cheapest, best quality solar cookers and carry them in the Dahejia Solar Cooker factory’s truck to the village.
  9. After setting them up for each family, supervise the process of the project with four people, who are already chosen.
  10. Complete project.
  11. Interview villagers (men,women and children).
  12. Take pictures.
  13. Complete the final report.
    14. Send final report with all pictures and receipts.

    Activities realized in the framework of the project
  1. On December 7th, 2006 held a meeting with villagers (men, women and children), and discussed each person’s contribution of labor (e.g. carry solar cookers to the village, unloaded them from the truck and set them up for each family, took responsibility for not damaging the solar cookers.)
  2. On December 8th, 2006 Contacted with the company and decided when they would transport the Solar Cookers (this was not planned in the original plan, because at that time, the factory said they could transport the solar cookers any time. But when I implemented the project, it was snowing for several days continuously, so I called them to make sure they could transport the cookers on the day that I had planned)
  3. On December 9th, 2006 Maybelle (Gawangjyid) and the drivers (also the village leader who went to Jianzha county town to get the truck) carried the best quality solar cookers in the Dahejia (also called Liujia Solar cooker company) Solar Cooker factory’s truck to Yehe village.
  4. On December 10th, 2006 Maybelle (Gawangjyid), Lorwang, Dorjay, Tseringzhoma and Dobi collected the local contribution, distributed the solar cookers to each family and and gave the instructions on how to use the solar cookers.
  5. On December 11th, 2006 Maybelle (Gawangjyid) interviewed the villagers and took the photos.

6. On December 13th, 2006 Maybelle(Gawangijid) started to work on final report.

7. On December 22nd, 2006 Maybelle (Gawangijid) completed the final report and sent to Shambala connection with photos and receipts.

Project Finances

Actual budget realized in the framework of the project

Original Budget Actual Budget

Receipt #

Item

Donor Contrib
ution in rmb

Local Contrib
ution
in rmb

Total cost in rmb

Donor Contrib
ution
in rmb

Local Contrib
ution
in rmb

Total cost in rmb

Difference
(Between original and actual budgets) in rmb

#1

50
Solar Cookers

6,000

2,500

8,500

4,750

2500

7250

+1,250

 

Manage
ment expenses

0

199

199

0

90

90

+109

 

Manage
ment payment

0

500

500

0

500

500

0

Total

6,000

3,199

9,199

4,750

3,090

7,840

+1359

*When I was writing my project proposal, the price for each solar cooker is 170 rmb, but when I was implementing the project, the price came down, because there are very few people buying their solar cookers in winter.

* When I was writing my project proposal, I thought that the management expenses would cost about 199rmb, but when I was implementing the project, it cost less than what I expected.

List of recipients

receipent

List of recipients translation

Zhouluo, Xiawo Jay, Duoji Tsedan, Bumzhou, Xiawu dongzhi, Donchon, Gaidan, Lhaba, Doulha, Tsedan, Chichong Dorma, Zaobo, Foyan, Yangbem Jay, Baima Yangbum, Yaoyao, Norxu, Xiadon Jay, Oden, Bigo, Tsedan Donden, Dorji, Tashi Jantsen, Tsering Ter, Luojay, Tsedan Jay, Luowang, Shemba, Mane Kang, Jayri, Negrog, Tsering Donden, Penmo Tseden, Doba, Duojay Rangden, Tsepeg, pegmo, Tsejay, Luobi, Duojay Bum, Koncho, Dazhen, Yaoyao, Dazhen, Namka Jay, Sonba, Godon, Bumjay, Duo Tashi, Penmo Jay, Zhoutse Jay

Delays, Difficulties, and lessons learned

Delays
There were no delay in activities.

Difficulties
When I called the factory after my project was funded, the price of solar cooker came down and it was difficult to complete the project as planned. So I was worried whether the Donor would be worried about the project if I could not do as I planned in the original project proposal and it was one of the difficulties I encountered. Another difficulty was when I was distributing the solar cookers to the families in Yehe village, the neighboring village leader and some other men came to me and asked that I give them half of the solar cookers for their village. I was really faced with a dilemma at this time. I told him that the donor gave these to Yehe village and I couldn’t change the decision, but they asked me again and again. Then I said, “I will try to write a proposal for your village, but I’m not sure if it can be funded.” So they left.

Lessons learned
The First one was that the prices of the goods will go up or down if the proposal is not funded for more than five months and it makes it difficult for us to implement the project in same as that we planed in the original proposal.

The second one is that I learned there are many other villagers who need help just like my villagers and I should write as many proposals as I can to help these poor people. For example, when I was impelementing this project in my village, there were many other people from different villages who came to me and asked me whether they could get solar cookers, so I learned that local people really needed this project and it gave me more courage to help as many people as possible in the future.

Interviews

Padma Jiantso
Padma Jiantso is 41 years old and he is divorced. Only his daughter and himself are in the family. When I was interviewing him, he said that every morning at three o’clock he knows his daughter is setting off for fuel collection seven miles away, his heart is very painful. The government officials would take it from her if they see it. Sometimes she would be seen by the government officials and return home without any fuel, his heart is more painful. However, he could do nothing to release his pain and his daughter’s burden because for a man to collect fuel is very shameful and people would regard him as women-like in this village. So he is very pleased now. He said his daughter only need to collect fuel for cold weather, which is only for three months. He will be happier than before.

Donbi
Donbi said there aren’t more yak dungs adjacent to the village because there aren’t any more yaks in the village. Therefore, she needs to go seven miles away to collect yak dung or woods for fuel almost every day. Her back and legs are so sore during her collection that she even couldn’t stand up sometimes. But she doesn’t have any solution to conquer her pain. Even though it is very painful, she has to go to collect it. Otherwise her family wouldn’t have anything to make fire. One day she heard from some other women. It is not painful if they took some kind of medicine before leaving for the fuel collection. So she also took it every day to release her pain. However, actually the medicine is not releasing her pain. It was just a moment’s hocus. She said she heard from a doctor that to take too much of those kinds medicine will hurt her bone. Now she doesn’t need to take those kinds of medicine to hurt her bone.

Lhamo

Lhamo is thirteen now.

“I really don’t know how to thank the donor. Since my family got the solar cooker, my parents decided to send me school. I stayed at home just to collect the yak dung for my family. Only my mother couldn’t feed the stove the whole year around. Right now, she can collect the fuel only for cold weather. So I’m very happy that I’m going to attend school next semester.”

There should be a photo of each person interviewed, along with a description of who they are, what their problems are, how the project will help them, and what they said about the project and the donor.

Letter of appreciation

thank you letter

Translation

Dear The Shambala Connection,

Those 50 solar cookers that you gave us made 350 villagers life condition better and it also helped to solve many significant problems such as deforestation, which means local people cut the trees for their fuel, and less raining, lack of fuel, women’s heavy burden and risk for their health, pollution, fire danger, low rate of attending school. Therefore, we really want to say thank you very much to Shembala Connection. Though just saying this cannot express how we are appreciating your help, we want to say it and that’s what we can do to express our feeling. From now on, our life condition will be much better than before. So, your help and compassion will be in our mind forever and we will always pray for you. Finally, we wish everything that you are doing and expected would be successful and can help many poor people just like us.

All the best,

Yehe villagers

Receipt

#1

receipt

Original proposal

Project Location
This project will be located in Yehe Village. Yehe village is located in the north of Maketang (county town), Jiantsa County, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, and People’s Public of China. It is about 180 kilometers away from Xining (the capital city of Qinghai) Yehe is an agricultural and nomadic village with 70 families (all Tibetan). 50 families are located at the foot of mountain in the valley where they farm. 20 families are located on the mountainside where they herd livestock.

Population
Out of the 490 people in Yehe village (70 households) there are 171 women, 165men, and 154children. 350 people (50 households) are located at the bottom of the mountain and 140 people (20 households) are on the mountainside. This project applies to, and will benefit, those 350 people (50 households) located at the foot of the mountain. There are 116 men, 121 women and 113 children.

Education
Nearly none of the adults and old people has had an education because there were no schools when they were young. Even if there had been schools, they wouldn’t have had enough money to pay for tuition. In the 1990s, parents started to send their one child to school because they thought children should be educated in a developed society. As society continues to develop, and modern technology is rapidly imported, people know that they must not lag behind if they want to survive. They know that their children have to attend school and study. Therefore, out of 120 school-aged children there are 4 university students, 7 middle-school students, 23 primary school students in Yehe village right now. Usually only one child can attend school in each family, even though there’s usually more than one child, because they don’t have enough money for tuition. Moreover, some families don’t even send any children to school because they need them to help work in the fields.

Cash income

Yehe village people usually earn money by digging caterpillar fungus in the nomadic area during the summer. (Caterpillar fungus is a kind of plant and medicine that grows in nomadic areas; we can sell it for five yuan per fungus). However, Caterpillar fungus is difficult to find in the forest or on the grassland and villagers have to pay 2,500 rmb per person to dig caterpillar fungus on another’s grassland. Hence after they pay the landlord fee, some people have only 700-800rmb to take home – not quite sufficient to buy clothes, salt, tea, medicine, and pay for electricity. In total these expenses come to 900 rmb per year, but local families can only earn seven or eight hundred rmb for a whole year. Still, some unlucky people don’t have any income, because digging caterpillar fungus is difficult and they can’t find any. Also, some of villagers can’t afford the landlord fee. On average there will be one person to dig caterpillar fungus per family and while some families don’t have any cash income, they do have wheat to eat. In conclusion, Yehe villagers have great difficulties generating financial income.

Agriculture

Yehe Villagers plant wheat, barley, potatoes, and beans. The richest families have 5-mu of fields to plant those crops (just enough for a year’s worth of food without surplus). Each year they can produce 600 jin of barley, or wheat or potatoes, per mu. However, the poor families only have 2 mu field, which means 2 mu to feed all members of the family. If one year has less rain, those poorer families will starve because they don’t have money to buy food. Sometimes the government might give one or two packs of flour to the poorest families, but this is not sufficient.

Herding

On average, those 50 families located in the valley only have one mule, and those families located on the mountain have around 20 sheep or goats and 6-7 yaks.

Project goals and benefits

The overarching goals of this project are to prevent deforestation and decrease women’s burden. The immediate goal of this project is to purchase 50 solar cookers for Yehe Village.

Problems
Deforestation
People go to the mountains to cut trees for fuel illegally, even at midnight, although the government has strictly banned such conduct. Older villagers say there were trees all around the village when they were young children. However, trees have been cut down from near our village to far away. At the moment the forest is five kilometers away from our village and deforestation is causing less raining and serious soil erosion.

Drought

Rain has decreased as the deforestation rate increases. Every year it rains less and less. Sometimes crops are destroyed by drought before they grow high enough and we can’t even collect enough dried straw to make a fire. Less rain has also stunted the grass and livestock don’t get enough food to fill their bellies. Consequently livestock don’t produce enough yak dung and we can’t collect enough to make a fire.

Lack of fuel
Some fuel used in Yehe village includes yak dung, dried straw, and firewood. Recently Yehe village has had very few livestock because there isn’t enough grass for animals to graze. This means people don’t get enough yak dung to collect. Because of less rain, local people have much less dried straw to feed their animals and their stove. Finally, cutting trees is thoroughly forbidden.

Women’s burden and women’s health
The main fuel-collectors Yehe village are women, while children also help their mothers and sisters to collect yak dung. At 2 o’clock in the morning, women villagers need to travel 5 kilometers in order to cut trees and carry them home on their back. They can get home as late as seven o’clock in the morning. In total they spend five hours cutting trees and carrying them home. They also have to collect yak dung during the daytime. Women carry too much fuel, such as trees and yak dung. Nowadays, seventy percent of women become hunchbacked. Although some women don’t become hunchbacked, they still have backaches or sore feet.

Pollution
Yehe village is located in a remote valley. Although the air is quite fresh and clean, it has become worse and worse recently because of cooking; more smoke is produced when we burn yak dung, dried straw or wood. Most women have lung problems caused by cooking, and all the villagers have frequent colds, because their house and environment is always full of smoke from cooking.

Fire danger
From March to October, each family makes a small adobe stove outside of the house and cooks there, because it is too hot indoors. This way, people will have dinner indoors after they have finished cooking outside. Then it is possible for the wind to spread the fire. One time, bunches of the sparks spread from one family’s outside stove, who burned dried straw. That fire spread to two adjacent houses and burnt their families’ firewood and everything they possessed . Two of these family members had to sleep in other’s house for sometime and starved for a while.

Low school attendance
Approximately sixty percent of children do not attend school just because their family needs them to stay at home and collect yak dung.

Family quarrels/Gender inequality
Women and children are fuel collectors. Men are usually free while women and children need to collect fuel. Therefore, sometimes women become exasperated because they are too exhausted and have suffered too much from collecting fuel.

Solutions

Buying 50 solar cookers for the people of Yehe village would have the following benefits:

Solve the deforestation problem
The villagers won’t cut down trees any more if this project is funded. Currently all women have to go cut trees for fuel everyday, otherwise yak dung and dried straw are not enough for cooking for all the family members and livestock or keeping warm in the winter. If this project is funded, dried straw and yak dung will be sufficient for them because they can use a solar cooker for most of the year (March to October).

There will be more rain
As the trees are cut down, the weather in this area has become hotter and hotter every year. If villagers keep cutting down trees year after year, we don’t know what Yehe village will be like in the future. This project will reduce tree cutting and the decrease in rain will be slowed. Trees and grass will grow and the environment will become more and more green. This way the villagers will have more straw to make fires, livestock will have full bellies and there will be more yak dung if there is more grass. Consequently the villagers can have a much better life if this project is funded.

Fuel problems will be solved
The villagers won’t need to illegally cut trees for fuel because, with the help of solar cookers, the yak dung and dried straw would be sufficient for their firewood.

Women’s burden will be reduced

After they got the solar cookers, the women in this village won’t need to go collecting yak-dung and dried-straw before dawn while the men are still sleeping.

The air will be cleaner

Women won’t get lung problems and all the villagers won’t get as many colds.

Fire risk will be greatly reduced
Fires usually spread during the summer because the villagers are cooking outside. Hence, if this project is funded, the fire danger won’t occur again. Solar cookers do not make sparks, and do not create hot ashes that can cause fires to start when it is windy.

School attendance will increase

Sixty percent of the children, mentioned in problem list, who don’t attend school do so simply because they are fuel collectors and will be far more likely to attend school if this project is funded. Collecting yak dung is a task usually assigned to children and parents keep them at home for that reason. Hence, more children will attend school if this project is funded. Children don’t have to pay for tuition from primary school to the graduation of the middle school due to government support, so one of the main things stopping them from attending school is fuel collection.

Family quarrels will be reduced

If women do not need to spend so much time collecting fuel, it will decrease the unequal burden placed on women and reduce their irritation with the men in their families, who do not have to complete such tasks. Women won’t be angry with their husbands because they are collecting fuel while their husbands are sleeping. Hence the family members won’t need to feel as unhappy or quarrel about collecting fuel once they get solar cookers.

All of the problems that I mentioned will be solved if this project is funded, because villagers can cook with solar cookers during the daytime from March to October. It means they only need to collect fuel for cold weather in order to warm their houses.

Gender Equality
This project mostly focuses on women, because women are the main fuel collectors in the local area. Because of this, women are also involved in the planning of this project. We had a meeting with both women and men from the village, and they will be involved with the implementation and sustainability of the project. Older villagers and I chose two men and women to take responsibility for carrying solar cookers to the village and setting them up in each family. People from the village said they will maintain this project as long as they can, especially the women. Women will gain the most benefit from this project because they have so many difficulties related to fuel collecting.

Government support
May 3 rd, 2006 – Gawangjyid talked to the government leader Namlah. He gave enthusiastic consent and said that he would appreciate it if the donors realized our difficulties and funded the project.

Steps of the project

1. Have a meeting with the family leaders (men and women) to collect information of their urgent needs or biggest problems. (I did this)

2. Choose four people to take responsibility for any kind of work related to the project. One person is our village leader, named Aldan. Another is a man named Lorwang. He often takes care of the village and villagers respect him. Two other are village women named Tseringzhoma and Donbi. (I discussed this with the villagers and they said they would do the work if the project was funded)

3. Find the solar cooker company selling the cheapest and best quality cookers and make sure we know how much it will cost per solar cooker. This step has already been completed, and we will use the Dahejia Solar Cooker factory because of their great reputation and history of success.

4. Write project proposal.(completed)

5. Find a Donor for funding and send the proposal.

6. Hold a meeting with villagers (men, women and children), and discuss each person’s contribution of labor (e.g. carry solar cookers to the village, unload them from the truck and set them up for each family, take responsibility for not damaging the solar cookers.)

7. Have a meeting with Lorwang, Dorjay, Tseringzhoma and Dobi to arrange a time to carefully carry the solar cookers.

8. Purchase the cheapest, best quality solar cookers and carry them in the Dahejia Solar Cooker factory’s truck to the village.

9. After setting them up for each family, supervise the process of the project with four people, who are already chosen.

10. Complete project.

11. Interview villagers (men, women and children).

12. Take pictures.

13. Complete the final report.

14. Send final report with all pictures and receipts.

Time frame
This project will take a total of ten days to complete.

Five days: Receive funds. Purchase solar cookers from Dahejia Solar cooker factory and carry them to the village.

Five days: Set them up in each household and tell everyone how to use them.

Detailed contribution

Item Price per item rmb Number of items Donor Contribution Local Contribution Total cost rmb
Solar cooker 170rmb 50 6,000rmb 2,500rmb 8,500
Management fee 500rmb
Phone calls, bus tickets, typing, photo development fee, and internet fee 199rmb
Total cost 6,000 rmb 3,199rmb 9,199

Sustainability
This project is a sustainable project; unlike some other projects there is no need to spend money after it is implemented. Women are aware of the dangers and difficulties of collecting fuel, so they will recognize the benefit of solar cookers and take care of them as if they were members of the family. This project will be sustained for at least ten years because the solar cookers that we will buy are of good quality. A few neighbor villages have already bought solar cookers from Dahejia solar cooker company and have, so far, used them for three years. I went to ask them about the quality and they said it was good. They didn’t find any flaws during the first three years of use, so I believe this project would be sustainable.

Photos
Here are some pictures of how the people in Aba are collecting the yak dung for their fuel. (Almost everybody in Yehe village collects yak dung for fuel, just as the people in Aba do.)

photo 12
Even the young children are drying yak dung for their fuel.

photo 13
Most women work on drying and collecting yak dung all day.

photo 14
She is dividing the dried yak dung from the fresh dung, because the rain will wet the dried yak dung unless it’s moved to a dry place.

photo 15
This woman is already about seventy years old, but she still needs to work collecting yak dung in the cattle enclosure.


photo 16
This woman is collecting yak dung as children drive the yaks to graze.

Map of the project location
map
Here is the project site with Xining city, the capital of Qinghai Province, and Yehe village.