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Newsletter No.57 January 2019
First of all, greetings
from Danang. We wish you a wonderful year where im- possible things will be possible. We as Solar Serve have seen a
breakthrough in the last few months, and we’d love to see that happen
with you too. We encourage you to use your ability to create new things
and don’t give up if it is not working yet. Many years ago we started
with making our solar box cookers and later on the parabolic cookers.
It has been a process of learning and taking right decisions, but also
being able to give up when something was not working well. It brought
us to where we are now. Let us give you the latest update and see for
yourself the change we went through.
A need for change
It is good to
help people with things that will benefit their lives and health.
Therefore our solar equipment is wonderful to use when there is a lot
of sunshine, but cannot be used during rainy season. The last few
months, for example, we had the heaviest outpour of rain in the history
of Danang. Streets were flooding from 0.5 m to 1.2 m. So, we were
pushed for alternatives, although we are still blessed with our solar
equipment. When our director Bich joined a Solar Cooker workshop in
Nepal, they showed him several clean cookstoves. He became very
interested, but it took him several years before he built his own
model. It was a great task and after small changes it was officially
recognized. After that we as Solar Serve needed to change too if we
wanted to develop. The challenge came three months ago, just after the
release of our last newsletter.
A contract was signed
between Solar Serve and KCM to make 30,000 improved cookstoves for poor
areas in the northern regions of Vietnam. Our task was to manufacture
them in a reasonable time. Helpful machines were bought and besides our
Vietnamese workers new ones were employed. The first three workers came
from the mountains, later five other minority workers joined too but
they left soon. In return seven others showed up, followed by four and
after two left we have now a total of 12 new minority workers and four
Vietnamese. Now we are capable to produce around 150 cookstoves a day.
It is wonderful to hear the sound of machines, tools, young voices and
sometimes joyful singing in our factory. The
first load of cookstoves
were sent by ship at the end of November and the second container was
fully-loaded just before Christmas. The third container will be loaded
soon. All in a good spirit and well received in the north.
We are very blessed to
serve others with our stoves. It changed the way we are working. Many
years we have been diligently searching to get something off the
ground. Because our solar products needed special attention and could
only be used in special weather conditions, there was not always a good
solid ground for it. We know it was easy to become discouraged, but we
kept on going and have been always happy to help the poor for their
daily needs. A couple from the North heard about our project and came
to our factory. They wanted to consider making the cookstoves available
for people who can afford to buy them. It’s a good idea but
them to research first the possibilities and needs, before they invest
their time and money. In Cambodia an agency is very
successful in selling them but it needs a special approach.
A wonderful party
In our next newsletter we
can tell you more about our change, but for now we enjoy each moment
and were able to do some nice things for our workers. It was a
challenge for Tho, the wife of our director to cook daily for so many
workers. Suddenly she had to multiply her food supplies, but one of the
workers is helping her to cook in the morning. At lunch time we all (20
total) eat together and sometimes guests are joining us. During the
Christmas season Bich, our director wanted to bless all our workers
with a nice shirt and a Christmas party at one of the shopping malls in
Danang. We noticed that they loved chicken so we found a good place to
eat together. For most of the minority workers it was the first time
that they ate in a fast-food restaurant. We wanted to make an exception
in eating something that they had never eaten before. They loved it and
after that we all took a wonderful Christmas break. Amazingly, after
several days they all came back to work again.
Outburst of happiness
In our last letter we told you about
the park they were making in front of our center. Instead of grass they
paved most of the area with tiles. It is not finished yet but after we
finish our work, you will find our workers doing exercises and playing
football on a finished part. Maybe we can form our own Solar Serve
team. Vietnamese people love football and last month the national team
became champions during the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018. It caused an outburst
of happiness in the country and the streets were filled with cheering
supporters. It was the second time in history that Vietnam became
number one. Vietnam became not only an economic tiger the last few
years, but also a football tiger. Something to be aware of!
Wrong material delivered
One of our new machines
was constantly broken. The round plates had to be pressed into lids. We
found out that the company who provided us the stainless sheets had
been tricking us. If they had a shortage of a certain thickness, the
workers added thicker sheets between the other good ones, pretending
they were all of the same thickness. By pressing the mold into a thick
sheet, it was hard to get the lid out of the mold with the machine.
Finally it damaged the strength of the machine and it stopped working.
Now we are weighing the sheets one by one but we also warned the
director of the company. Even after he promised to keep an eye on his
workers, we are still checking it up by ourselves. This is the way you
have to do this with many other things too.
Visitors from Holland
We were blessed with four
visitors from Holland. For many years they have been standing behind
our work and now they wanted to see personally what we were doing. One
of our staff took them on a tour through the northern part of Vietnam
and finally they came for a week to Danang. They were very happy when
they visited our center, because this was the main goal of their trip.
They were welcomed and given a tour and noticed that everything was in
order and maintained clean. They asked many questions and showed
interest in what we were doing and were amazed with our new challenge.
After joining us for lunch they left, but came back after a few days.
They had more fellowship with our workers and had a wonderful barbecue
on the roof of our new building. Their visit to our center was
certainly a highlight and we all enjoyed each other.
Presentations for support
One of the four visitors
is a good photographer and often spends hours in the woods taking
pictures of birds. The result is very beautiful bird pictures that
teach us the ways of nature. His wife puts everything together and
finds backgrounds and behaviors of the birds. It takes some time, but
finally she made a powerpoint presentation with practical applications
of what we can learn from the birds. Now she travels around to show her
presentation to clubs and communities, in order to make people aware of
another world they sometimes forgot. We often get so occupied with the
business of life, that we forget the beauty of nature. She also wants
to help us, so when she received any financial support during her
presentations, she donates it to our work. We are so blessed with her
generosity and her love to bring people back to basics of nature.
There are other people
who find creative ways to show their support for our work. A group of
volunteers found a company who sells the famous and delicious Dutch
syrup waffles (stroopwafels). They are not only loved by the local
people but also worldwide. Even an American airline used them as a gift
during their flights. The waffles company gave them a special discount
if they bought them in large quantities. So they are going around with
lists to individuals, clubs, organizations, churches, communities and
asked them to make an order. A few weeks later they gather the lists
and buy the waffles from the company. After that all the volunteers
come together for distributing the hundreds of waffles to individuals
and clubs and organizations. The profit will be donated for our work.
What a great initiative!
FBT conference in May
The end of last year we
concluded four FBT seminars successfully in Nha Trang, Quang Nam, Hanoi
and in a drug rehabilitation center outside Ha Noi. It has changed
people’s lives and there are already reports of several breakthroughs
in small businesses. We want to share with you two stories below. We
also want you to know that a Developing Family Businesses Conference is
in the making and will be held in Danang on May 1st for all the FBT
participants of the last three years. We will have as guest speaker the
well-known business consultant Mario Brühlmann. This will be a great
opportunity to hear how their businesses have been changed. It will be
a great encouragement and stimulation for others who are still
searching for what is best.
A dream came true
Nhu Quynh was raised by
her father in a poor family. Her mother passed away when she was very
young. She loved to take photos and had a dream to be a photographer
one day. She started a business, but had no success. She wanted to give
up, but when she joined our FBT seminars she understood that marketing
was very important and applied it to her business. This became the big
change in her business. More customers came to her shop and asked her
to take wedding pictures and also during government events. Now she can
even employ more workers in her business. She is very happy that her
dream finally came true.
Begin Small and Grow
Mr. Giang studied more
than three years in Singapore, so he spoke English very well. He
returned to Vietnam and lived with his wife and children in his
hometown Nha Trang. At first it was very difficult to find a job for
him and his wife. After attending our seminars they learned to observe
the needs of their area. Mr. Giang began to understand that there were
many foreigners living around his place who needed to communicate with
the local people. So, Giang and his wife started Vietnamese language
classes for foreigners. After a few months many customers joined their
classes to study Vietnamese. He started first in a coffee shop, but now
they have opened a full language center.
It was a long letter
again. We hope you did not mind. There are so many things happening.
Please stand with us again, especially with our workers when they are
making so many cleanstoves this time, but also for the dreams we still
want to accomplish. It is good to know that for everything is a
Solar Serve team
Called to Serve