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Haitian relief

Solar cookers shipped to quake-ravaged zone

 Solar Liberty Foundation is aiding the Haiti relief effort by shipping solar cookers to prepare meals and solar panels to power a medical center.

Foundation Executive Director Paige Mecca said a cooker weighs about 10 pounds, holds two 3.4-quart pots and can make food for up to 15. Waterproof and made of heavy plastic, the aluminum and glass fibers inside hold in the heat. The cookers also can pasteurize or sterilize water.

On Jan. 29, the foundation shipped 30 cookers to Haiti, and there are plans to donate a total of 1,000.

The ovens were bought from Solar Oven Society, a Minnesota-based not-for-profit. The models selected retail for $139.95, but because of the volume of the Solar Liberty Foundation sale, Mecca said they were charged $100 each.

The large order, however, resulted in more needing to be manufactured, which is why only 30 were initially shipped.

Working through the Buffalo chapter of Bouske, a Haitian organization overseeing delivery of materials to Haiti, the ovens will ship to Port-au-Prince and be distributed within Carrefour.

Mecca is an attorney who earned her master’s degree in social work. She created Solar Liberty Foundation in 2008, five years after her brothers, Adam and Nathan Rizzo, started Solar Liberty Energy Systems Inc.

The siblings’ goal for the foundation, which received tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status last May, was “to help underdeveloped nations with solar resources,” Mecca said. “Our focus has been Haiti from the start.”

Last year, the foundation donated a $54,000 solar electrification system for a health clinic in Hinche. Such systems include solar panels, a backup battery system, wiring and everything needed to power a clinic.

Though donated for the clinic, it had been stored at a warehouse and was unharmed by the earthquake. It has since been re-allocated to a clinic at Aristide Medical School in Tabarre, which might be powered by a diesel generator.

Additionally, the foundation is planning to ship 20 kilowatts of photovoltaic solar power to Haiti, which could mean shipping 500 solar panels. To pay for equipment to power them, the foundation will attempt to raise about $50,000.

“We are working to do more, to power more clinics in Haiti,” Mecca said.

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By: David Bertola

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