Women’s Initiatives: The HopeSac Project

Women’s Initiatives: The HopeSac Project

In May 2018 at a sew-a-thon where our team was working on sewing underwear to donate to street women and girls in rescue centers in Kenya, Cindy Miller brought us The HopeSac Project. The HopeSaC Project teaches retained heat cooking through instruction, both in groups and one on one, including a certification program. They also donate related kits and materials needed for retained heat cooking, items such as thermal cookers, cookbooks, pots with lids, fiber and they teach the sewing skills needed for the women to make their own.  

Women in Kenya Cook Over Open Fires in Enclosed Spaces

According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, pneumonia has recently been the top killer disease, even over malaria, from 2015 to now. In addition, respiratory system ailments are the most common diseases in local health facilities. This is because many women in Kenya are cooking over open fires, smoke filling their huts that they breathe in for hours at a time, every single day. They develop respiratory issues, along with coating their walls and ceilings with a thick black tar-like substance. 

The HopeSaC Project shares the technique of retained heat cooking to benefit families through savings of health, time and money. The key to success is education. This simple system of boiling food and then insulating it until it is time to eat has been life-altering for the women in Kenya. The most frequent feedback we receive is that this technique frees up time and allows the women to accomplish more throughout their day.  

Where Your Donation Goes

Cindy Miller, the creator of The HopeSaC Project, oversees and manages the gathering of fabric, cutting, sewing, and assembly of each HopeSaC. She is not compensated for this project, but when you donate a HopeSaC, she uses the funds to travel to Kenya and Mexico to deliver them and certify women on how to use them. 

The HopeSaC Project aligns with the mission of 100 Humanitarians International to help provide self-reliance to families. It also accomplishes the following goals: 

 – Reduce the amount of time women spend cooking over fires, therefore reducing the smoke and toxin inhalation, and reducing the amount of trees cut down for fuel

 – Provide meals for children that can be cooked overnight so they are able to eat before school

 – Provide sewing skills, and retained heat cooking skills that can be passed down to future generations creating opportunities for income

The HopeSaC Project teaches retained heat cooking through instruction, both in groups and one on one, including a certification program. We also donate related kits and materials needed for retained heat cooking, items such as thermal cookers, cookbooks, pots with lids, fiber and we teach the sewing skills needed for the women to make their own. 

There are many ways to get involved in the HopeSaC Project. Get the word out by hosting a class or sewathon, share online, sew at home, join us on an expedition, donate time and/or resources, it all makes a huge difference!  We are happy to have you join us!  

Asante sana! 

 

Women’s Initiatives: 100 Humanitarians Meets the HopeSaC

Women’s Initiatives: 100 Humanitarians Meets the HopeSaC

Who would have thought a chance meeting in the spring of 2018 would have placed me where I am today? Teaching thermal cooking to women in rural communities in Kenya.

Of all things, it was at a sew-a-thon, sewing underwear that I first met Heidi Totten. I knew she ran some kind of humanitarian thing and I wanted to see what she thought about the thermal cooking bag I called a HopeSaC, which stands for Hope, Service and Charity.

Long story short, Heidi took 5 HopeSaC kits to Kenya in June of 2018. A HopeSaC kit includes pre-sewn components for a fabric thermal cooker. Once filled with insulation it can be used to cook, saving time, fuel and money.

The first thing Heidi said to me after returning from her June trip was “I want you on the trip in October with more of those HopeSaCs”.

Like I would say “no”. 🙂

Where does one even start when sharing Kenya? The trip was over-the-top amazing! I loved everything about the experience. But of course, my time sharing HopeSaC with the people was the activity closest to my heart.

We took 30 HopeSaC kits on the October 2019 trip. Some of the kits went to Bomet, others to the Mara and the Rescue center in Narok. But the two days we spent in Nkareta were something special.

The days were hot. Much of the time was spent building GardenSaCs/towers at the homes of people in the community. I remember at one point someone coming to me and saying, “Cindy, you have got to see this”.  After which I was escorted into a kitchen. It was actually a mud hut, inside the door was a short walkway which lead to one small room with three-bed areas. In the center toward the back wall, I could see the glow of embers in a version of a clay rocket stove. It was U shaped leaving one side open to feed kindling and keep the fire going, a pot sitting on top. Yes, the room was hot, unbearably, and smoky, my eyes were burning, but what affected me the most was the darkness. It was almost pitch black inside with no electricity to turn on a light.

All I could think about was “this is why I do this” one cooker at a time.

We spent some time showing the women how to use the HopeSaCs. They gathered around and were listening, watching and asking questions. All with skepticism showing clearly on their faces. They seriously thought I was crazy. What made it worse was that the pot I had brought from the hotel could not be placed on the open flame so they had to pour boiling water over the rice instead of bringing it to a boil. Not something I would suggest doing by the way.

Their skepticism was short lived. Just over an hour later I opened the HopeSaC to reveal beautifully cooked rice. The room was abuzz with excited and surprised women speaking quickly to each other.

They liked the HopeSaCs! 🙂

A few of weeks later I received pictures showing the women working together, teaching each other how to use the HopeSaC cookers.  I love those pictures and what they represent!

I leave again next week, making my way back to Kenya. It has been four months since my first trip. 100 Humanitarian and The HopeSaC Project will be hosting a ceremony in Nkareta for 25 women who are now HopeSaC Certified Users. We will be taking HopeSaC kits with us for 15 more families in Nkareta, and more to Bomet where 20 families will start learning and teaching each other the art of retained heat cooking.

Amazing.

Here we are, it is almost spring again, one short year later.

It has been an amazing and very humbling journey.

And it is only the beginning.

Stay tuned. 🙂