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


Solar Cookers for Heluoshi Village
Project Manager: Lhamotso (Lily)

Provide 110 solar cooker for the people of Heluoshi village. Lighten women’s burden and increase local people’s income, thereby increasing school attendance and quality of life.

The Shambala Connection funded this project

Lhamotso is from Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, China. She graduated in 2005 with an Associated degree in English from Qinghai Normal University Nationalities Department’s English Training Program. She is now working as a program director and core staff member of Shem Women’s Group.

What? The provision of 127 solar cookers for 127 households. This will reduce the workload associated with collecting fuel, and will improve the lives of those in every household.

Who? The project will be of benefit to Tibetan, Han, Hui and Mogour households. The project site is Heluoshi village, Tiegai Township , Gonghe County , Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture , Qinghai Province.

Photos of project implementation :
The villagers with the small hand-tractors are waiting for the solar cookers.

One of the village leaders is shown collecting the villagers’ local contribution while the villagers are waiting for the solar cookers.

This village woman is signing her name on the paper which records that received a solar cooker.

Hui villagers are offloading the solar cookers from the big truck, which was provided by Dahejia Solar Cooker Company.

These are the stands that are used to support the cooking vessel on a solar cooker.

This man is getting the cement disc, which will be part of a fully installed solar cooker.

This image shows one of the villager leaders who is helping to distribute solar cooker components to the villagers.

These Hui villagers are transporting the solar cooker using a small wooden cart because they do not have tractor-truck.

This shows Lhamotso (the project manager of the solar cooker project) helping to distribute solar cooker components .

Project Summary
Project title : Solar cookers for Heluoshi village
Project goals: This project reduces the workload associated with collecting fuel, and improves the lives of those in every household. Moreover lighten women’s burden, increase cash income, improve exam scores and improve health.

Location of project : This project will be located in Heluoshi Village , Tiegai Township , Gonghe County , Hainan Prefecture , Qinghai Province. Heluoshi Village is in the southeastern part of Gonghe County , and it is approximately 170 miles from the provincial capital, Xining .
Total Beneficiaries : In total 127 households pf about 645 benefited from the project.
Implementation organization/individual: Lhamotso (Lily), Heluoshi village leader and the villagers of Heluoshi Village and Shem Women’s Group. Contact Person: Michelle Kleisath
Funds received: Source, Amount, and Date received

The Shambala Connection gave 14,300rmb, 1st of December 2006.

Details of project activities
Originally planned project activities:
1. Lhamotso planned and designed the proposal.

2. A meeting was held with the village leaders and local people to choose the 110 poorest families. The poorest families were chosen based on:

- How much money the family makes each year

- The quality of their fields (how much of the fields are covered by sand and stone)

- How many children go to school

- How much money they borrowed from the bank each year

- How many people are able to work in each family

Every single villager agreed that the chosen families were really poor and would benefit from this project.

3. Lhamotso wrote and submitted the proposal

4. Local contributions were collected from the families who were to receive the solar cookers.

5. Solar cookers were purchased in Dahejia Town in Gansu Province .

6. The solar cookers were transported to Heluoshi village.

7. The villagers leaders, some of the villagers and Lhamotso delivered the solar cookers to the chosen families

8. Photos were taken recording the distribution of cookers.

9. Interview the local people (men, women and children)

10. Write the final report

11. Interview the village leaders

12. Send The final report (with photos)

Activities realized in the framework of the project:

• In June Planned and designed the proposal

• In June Held meeting with village leaders and local people

• In September Wrote and completed the proposal

• On the 25 th of November, the project was funded by The Shambala

• Connection.

• On the 1 st of December 2006, Lhamotso received 14,300rmb from the Shambala connection. She then contacted the solar cooker company in Gansu Province and decided to purchase 127 solar cookers from them. Their price per solar cooker was cheaper than I had written on the original proposal.

• On December 2 nd 2006, solar cookers were loaded into two trucks and selected 17 poorest families more because we purchased 17 more solar cookers than we have planned before.

• On 3 rd and 4 th of December 2006, 127 solar cookers were transported to Heluoshi village. Photos were taken during the distribution of the solar cookers.

• On 14th and 15th of December 2006, interviewed the local women and men but unfortunately at that time the children were not at home and the village leaders because the limited time.

• The final report was written and sent to the donor

Project Finances:
Actual budget realized in the framework of the project:

Original Budget:

Item cost Donor Contribution Local contribution Total Project RMB
110 solar cookers 180rmb/ household 14,300rmb 50rmb/per household*110 household=5,500rmb 19,800rmb

Actual Budget:

Item cost Donor Contribution Local contribution Total Project RMB
127 solar cookers 155rmb/ household 14,300rmb 50rmb/per household*127 households=6,350rmb *20,650rmb

* On the original proposal, each solar cooker costs 180rmb, but by bargaining with Solar Cooker Company each solar cooker cost 155rmb. Therefore, after discussing with the villagers, I decided to buy 127 solar cookers instead 110. After purchasing 127 solar cookers, the project had 965rmb left in unspent funds, because I have 20,650rmb total include local contribution and donor contribution but I only spent 19,685rmb on buying 127 solar cookers. Therefore this amount extra money (965rmb) has been transferred to a future project to be financed by TSC.

List of Recipients

Difficulties and lesson learned

Difficulties encountered when implementing the project
During the project implementation, I did not encounter many difficulties. The only small problem was when I realized that towards the end of the project, two recipients’ local contributions had not been paid. When I discovered this, I talked to the village leaders immediately and together we solved the problem. And I got all the local contribution correctly.
Lesson learned

By implementing the solar cooker project for Heluoshi village, I learned one very important point – that even though I have a lot of experience in implementing projects, I still need to pay very close attention during every step of the project. I have learned a valuable lesson this time, and will carefully count the money often when I work on future projects.

Here are interviews with some of the villagers who are the beneficiaries of this project:

1) On 14th of December in 2006, Pengmaozhaxi, who is a Tibetan man who is 43 years old. There are four people in his family. His son is going to primary school in the town. He said that although they had only used solar cooker for about ten days, he could already tell that it was very useful and could boil one kettle of water in a short amount of time. He commented that it was clean and healthy, and that people did not need to clean it. He sends many thanks to the donor.

2) On 15 th of December in 2006, Lhamotso (the project manager) interviewed one of the Han recipients whose name is Chensenlian. She is a fifty-nine year-old village woman and there are three people in her family. She has a daughter who is twenty years old who is working in Shandong province. Chengsenlian said that she could not afford to send her daughter to school, so instead they sent her to learn how to make clothes. She said that solar cooker is very good and fast at boiling water. In addition, she said that the day before the interview she boiled four kettles of water, even though it was not very sunny. Lastly, she said that her new solar cooker was of higher quality than others she had seen. One of her relatives in another village was given a solar cooker by the government, but it was small and one kettle of water took a long time to boil. Chengsenlian is very happy with her solar cooker.

3) On 15th of December in 2006, Mayuzhong is a Hui villager who is about 73 years old. Now there are five people in his household. Originally there were six people but one of his daughters has left home. She went to primary school until grade five, but later she dropped out because of the negative condition of her family. She later married out of her family. Mayuzhong’s son never went to school because of the same reason – that the family was too poor. His son is now married to one of the women in the same village and they have one child. Mayuzhong’s household has benefited a lot so far from using their solar cooker. They commented that it boiled water very quickly because the solar cooker had very small glasses, which could be very efficient at transmitting heat. Their boiled water is used for their livestock as well as each family member.

4) Guowanfang is a forty-three years old Han woman. There are four people in her family and she has one son and one daughter. According to her, none of her children went to school because they could not afford it. Now her son is 22 years old and he is working outside the village as a waiter in Caka Town in Haixi Tibetan and Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture . Her daughter is 20 years old and she is also working in a restaurant in Xining as a waitress. About three or four years ago her husband got very serious illness so that is why they could not send their children to school. She said the solar cooker was very good and it is very fast to boil water even though it is wintertime. She said that it is especially good because they needed to boil hot water for feeding the pigs. She said thanks to the donor, from her and her whole family.

5) Baimahangqing is a Tibetan man and he is 34 years old. There are five people in his family. There are two students in his family, both of whom are going to the town primary school. One of his brothers also stays with them and he has been working as an assistant in a private clinic for some years. Baimahangqing said thanks to the donor for helping them. He said that his solar cooker is very fast to boil water even if there is just a small gleam of sunshine.

6) Suozhanqing, is a Hui man and he is 40 years old. Originally there were five people in his family. Two of Suozhanqing’s daughters attended primary school only to grade and now both of them are married. One of them is nineteen years old and the other is only seventeen years old. His son went to school until grade four but did not continue further. When I asked why they did not support their children to continue their schooling, he said that he wanted to but was not able to do so because his family was poor and some times had a hard time just buying food. About the solar cooker, he said it was good, fast, clean and convenient to boil water. He said thanks a lot to the donor who helped them.

Letter of Appreciation

Dear Shambala Connection,

First of all, all the villagers of Heluoshi village really appreciate the help from The Shambala Connection, which donated the solar cookers.

There are 178 households with 950 people in Heluoshi village. In this village, the financial situation for people is very negative because there are too many people with very limited fields and also most fields are covered by the sand and the land is very salty, therefore, the crops cannot grow very well. As a result, the local villagers face difficult circumstances in their life, which limits the development of Heluoshi village. Most villagers encounter warm and sufficient condition problem which means the villagers do not get enough food and they face the problem of poor living condition and some of the villagers’ living conditions cannot describe in words. The Shambala Connection funded the solar cookers project, which really benefits the development of Heluoshi village. Firstly, by using solar cookers we can reduce the villagers’ working time. Secondly, by using the solar cooker we can solve the problem of the villagers gathering fuel. Moreover, the solar cookers can help women who can now cook food in a clean and healthy way by using the solar cooker.

Again, all the villagers of Heluoshi village thank The Shambala Connection for its help and truly wish the donor “Tashi delek”which means whatever you are doing will be very successful without many obstacles.

Heluoshi village committee

15 th of December 2006


Original Proposal

Project location
This project will be located in Heluoshi Village, T iegai Township, Gonghe County, Hainan Prefecture, Qinghai Province. Heluoshi Village is in the southeastern part of Gonghe County, and it is approximately 1 70 miles from the provincial capital, Xining.


Heluoshi village was historically an agricultural village. The village used to be locat ed opposite of Longyangxia Town, but during 1987 and 1988, the whole of Heluoshi Village transferred to the Mahaitai area because the government planned to build a hydroelectric station there. Therefore the village had to move.

Heluoshi Village consists of four small villages. The target villages consist of three ethnic groups, Tibetan, Chinese and Hui. One of the small villages already received solar cookers in 2004 , provided by the Canada Fund. The other three small villages have 144 households with 756 people. Among these 214 are men, 257 are women and 285 are children. The project target villages are these three small villages in Heluoshi Village.

In total, there are approximately 240 school-aged children. Of these, 153 are currently attending school: about 70 in primary school (29 male students and 41 female students), 50 in middle school ( 29 male students and 21 female students), 20 in high school (12 male students and 8 female students), and 13 in college (9 female and 4 male).

A number of children have attended primary school but later dropped out because their families could not afford to pay the expensive middle school tuition fees. The middle school’s tuition is more than 500rmb per year. Therefore, less and less students go to middle school. There are very few college students. A few years ago, one boy and one girl received high marks on the college entrance examination and were chosen to attend universities in other provinces. Unfortunately, they did not go to college because their families are too poor to pay the university fees. So now both of them stay at home and help their families work. Generally, most villagers who are older than 30 years old have not attended primary school.

Cash income
Many of the families have negative cash income. The average income per family per year is 1, 200 rmb but they must spend around 1,000 rmb per year on food, fertilizer and clothes . Gasoline powered tractors used to transport sheep and cow dung costs about 935rmb per family each year. People spend about 900rmb per year to buy fertilizer in the form of urea and amino acids. Each 100kg bag of urea is 95rmb and each 100kg bag of amino acid is 150rmb. The villagers need to buy one ton of coal every year in the winter time, which costs 230rmb. Villagers also spend money buying meat, vegetables, clothes, salt, tea and other necessities. In addition, s chool fees cost an average of 1,000rmb per semester for each family.

Almost all the families have to take out loans because they need to buy fertilizer and support their children’s education. When the time to pay back the loan arrives, villagers are busy borrowing money from relatives and friends because they have no money to pay back the loans. Also, some of the families h ave to buy flour at the end of year because their fields do not produce enough food for them.

Local people usually grow wheat, potatoes, beans and rapeseed. Generally, the climate in Heluoshi is not bad. Barring natural disasters, it may be possible to have a very fruitful harvest each year. However, there is a serious problem with the farmlands, which makes it nearly impossible to have a good harvest. Forty percent of the fields are covered with stones and sand and therefore cannot be used. In addition, the irrigation water is difficult to access and use because water is pumped by electricity from a place that is located about 7 or 8km from the village. The water pump is of inferior quality, and almost never works, so the fields can be irrigated only two or three times every year . Finally, the amount of land that each person owns is not sufficient to produce any substantial harvest. Each person only has 1.7mu of farmland. All of the above problems result in very poor harvests. Usually, 1mu of field can only produce between 300 and 400jin of wheat. As a result, some families do not produce enough food even for self-consumption, and they must buy wheat, barley, and vegetables from outside sources.


Most households do not have livestock such as yaks, cows, sheep, goats, donkeys or horses. Only a few of the households have small amounts of sheep, goats and cows. The total number of sheep in the village is around 150. There are about 30 cows and 270 goats.

Project Goals and Benefits:

The overarching goal of the project is to lighten women’s burdens and increase local people’s income, thereby increasing school attendance and quality of life.

The immediate goal of the project is to provide 110 solar cookers


Heavy burden on women
In Heluoshi, women need to get up around 5:30 am every season except winter and do all the housework (cleaning, collecting fuel, feeding pigs, fetching water and making breakfast). After they finish the housework, they need to weed the fields for at least 5 hours every day during the summer, and harvest all day during the fall. After a full day’s work, they often make shoes for their family members late into the night. Thus, women do not have time to do any leisure activities and sometimes they do not even have time to eat with the rest of the family. Women spend much more time than any of their family members weeding and fertilizing the vegetable fields. If they don’t do this job well, they will have no vegetables to eat and they will have to buy them.

Women are the only people responsible for cooking every meal, even if they are sick or busy doing other things. They usually use branches or straws and some families use sheep dung or cow dung to cook food. When they cook food, they have to sit beside the stove otherwise it might catch fire or the kids come next to the stove and put their hands in the fire. Therefore, women should really be careful while they cook food because taking care of the kids is one of women’s necessary obligations. For example when I was small, both my parents went out to dig some herbs in order to earn some money in the wintertime. And our neighbor kept their little son in our home and they went out to do construction work. The little son could not walk yet. He fell down in the front hole of the stove, which was full of ash. This was a big problem for my mother as others accused her of being irresponsible.

Low income
The biggest problem faced by Heluoshi Village is the lack of means to make sufficient cash income for survival.

In the majority of cases, local people earn cash by doing construction work and digging caterpillar fungus. Only one or two families have a big enough harvest that they are able to sell the extra grain. On average, each family can make 700rmb per year digging caterpillar fungus and each person can make 150rmb per month doing construction work.

Except for these two options, there are no other known ways to earn money. The problem with both of these sources of income is that they are unstable and unreliable. For instance, people who do construction work are very often cheated out of their pay. In one very common example, the construction manager promises to pay the workers one month after they finish construction. One month later, when they go back to collect their payments, the construction manager is gone, and they end up getting paid absolutely nothing for their work. As a result, they have wasted time doing work for nothing. This is a very serious and common problem for people who work these jobs. In addition, the government has recently forbid people from digging caterpillar fungus because they claim that it will destroy the ecological balance. So, digging caterpillar fungus to earn cash is no longer a viable option.

Because villagers can no longer earn money in these ways, it is becoming very common that, in addition to not having enough money to support their children’s education, many families do not have enough money to buy food and clothing

Low scores on exams
The students are also the main helpers for collecting fuel and cooking food in each family. To collect fuel, the students go around the village or go to the nearby areas to collect small amount of branches and sheep and cow dung. Because the students collect fuel after school they do not have time to do homework and prepare for the nest class’s lesson, which makes it very difficult to hand homework in on time and be prepared for the new lesson. With cooking food, the female students spend more time and energy on that. They have no time to study because they have to stand or sit in front of the stove while cooking food. Also the female students do most of their chores after they come home from school. As a result, the students do not do well on their exams and have few chances to further their education.

Health problems
Using branches, straw, cow dung and sheep dung as fuel for cooking has bad effects on people’s eyes, throats and lungs.


Lighten Women’s Burden
By using solar cookers, local women’s burden will be lightened. Women will not need to collect as much as fuel they needed to before. As a result, women will have more time to do other things such as washing clothes, making shoes, and cleaning the house. They will finish their work earlier and can have more leisure time to join in the village’s activities such as Women’s Holiday. Moreover, it will decrease the risk of little kids getting hurt, which will be a relief to women. In addition, using solar cookers to cook food is very convenient and clean while using the stove to cook food usually makes a mess in the kitchen, which women have to clean. Solar cookers do not require such cleaning.

Increase cash income

People spend time and money collecting fuel every year. Every year they have to collect fuel at least three times and every time they collect fuel they have to spend around five days to collect one tractor load of sheep and cow dung used as fuel. People have to collect fuel from the nomadic area, which is about 75km away. Specifically, to collect one tractor load of fuel, people spend around 235rmb buying gasoline for the hand truck. If the villagers have solar cookers, they can use that 235rmb to support their daily needs such as tea, salt, and pay the electricity and water expenses. Also, they can save a lot of time, which can be used productively at home. In total, each household spends about 705rmb on buying gasoline for the tractors. In the wintertime, each household at least needs to buy one ton of coal and one ton of coal cost 230rmb. Therefore, each household usually spends 935rmb on fuel, which is a huge amount money for these villagers. So again if they have solar cookers they do not need to spend 935rmb on fuel.

Improve exam scores
The students’ scores will improve if their families have solar cookers. The students will not need to collect fuel after school. They can use the time to do homework and review for the next class. The female students can study while they are cooking food because people do not need to keep an eye on the solar cooker. Relief from these burdens should help students create more educational opportunities.

Improve health
It is very healthy for people who cook food by solar cooker because people do not need to sit in front of the stove and use branches, sheep and cow dung to cook food. Also there is no smoke produced by the solar cooker, which means people will not be have their health affected.

Gender equality
Firstly, women will directly benefit from using solar cookers because mostly women and girls do the fuel collecting and cooking.

Secondly, this solar cooker project is designed by a woman and this project will be managed and implemented by the women. This way, the project manager also sends an important message to the local women and girls that woman and girls also can do very useful and important things that women are not traditionally expected or believed to do.

In total 110 households of about 560 people will benefit from t his project.

Governmental support :

The local government agrees with the project . In April, 2006 Lamomthso (Lily), the project manager, met with Haiqing , the villager leader. He said that he was happy to support any projects that will help local people have a better life. In addition, about three years ago, one college student did a pigsty project in the neighboring village and the local and county government agreed with and supported his project. Also, the local government was very supportive when I managed a greenhouse project in Heluoshi Village. Actually, Haiqing suggested that I do a solar cooker project because he said solar cookers are very helpful for villagers. He learned this by talking to the villagers after I did a solar cooker project in one part of Heluoshi Village.

The steps of the project
1. Planned and designed the proposal (already done)
2. Hold a meeting with the village leaders and local people to choose the 110 poorest families. This step has already been completed. The poorest families were chosen based on how much money the family makes each year; the quality of the fields (How much of the fields are covered by sand and stone); how many children go to school; how much money they have borrowed from the bank each year, and how many people are able to work per family. Every single villager agreed that the chosen families are really poor and would benefit from this project.
3. Write and complete the proposal
4. Collect local contribution from the families who will get the solar cookers

5. Solar cookers will be purchased in Dahejia Town in Gansu Province
6. Transport the solar cookers to Heluoshi Village
7 .The villager leaders, some of the villagers and I will deliver the solar cookers to the chosen families
8. Take pictures
9. Interview the local people (men, women, and children)
10. Interview the village leaders

11. Write final report
12. Send final report with pictures

This project will take 15 days

Detailed Budget :

Item Price per Item rmb Number of Items Total rmb
Solar cooker (including transportation) 180rmb/per solar cooker 110 19,800rmb

Detailed local contribution

Each family will provide 50rmb as local contribution in order to buy more solar cookers and take care of the solar cookers.

Total project cost

Donor contribution Local contribution Total Cost in rmb Total Cost in donor’s currency (dollars, euros)
14,300rmb 5,500rmb 19,800rmb 1,785.5dollars

This project is sustainable. Firstly, the solar cooker factory will guarantee the quality of the solar cookers. If there are any problems with the solar cookers, the factory will repair the solar cookers for free within one year of purchase. Secondly, even if there are problems with the solar cookers, the villagers can repair or replace them if they have the means. Thirdly, according to my previous experience, the solar cookers usually do not have problems.

From my previous experience and the experiences of classmates who have completed solar cooker projects, the project will produce benefits for the villagers for at least eight years.

Additional information:
Lamomthso (Lily), t he project manager, has already successfully completed four small-scale development projects.

The first was a solar cooker project funded by The Canada Fund in the summer of 2004, which provided 20 solar cookers for the village where the project is located. During the same year, in the winter Lamomthso managed another solar cooker project funded by the Canada fund, which provided 30 solar cookers to Heluoshi.

Lamomthso also successfully completed two second-hand clothes projects in 2004 and 2005. These clothes were provided by the British consulate in Shanghai. There were two boxes of second hand clothes that included shirts, trousers, bags, shoes, hats, toys, sweaters and other stuff.

Moreover, Lhamotso completed a greenhouse project last October funded by the Australian Embassy last December. Now the project is completely and successfully finished. The whole project cost about 60,000rmb, not including the local contribution.

Map of Gonghe County: