Tuesday, 31 March 2009

How we cook in Rwanda

More photos from Soraya and Cathie. (It's still raining so I'm occupying myself by sorting through some of the thousands of pictures on my laptop and posting these before Claude demands his modem back).

In Rwanda we volunteers have a choice of five ways of cooking - wood, charcoal, paraffin, electricity or gas. These epictures show you what our cooking arrangements are like.

This is Soraya's kitchen area at Mushubi and is very typical of our VSO cooking arrangements. Most people cook in some sort of lean-to so that we're protected from rain, but at the same time the smoke and fumes from our stoves can't poison us.

Most Rwandans cook on wood because it's the cheapest and most widely available source of fuel.

Many people, including many VSOs, cook on charcoal stoves. These are messy and can take a long time to get hot, but are wonderful for cooking things which need a long, slow simmer. Boiling water for filters, and cooking beans or lentils, are the ideal uses for charcoal stoves. You buy your charcoal in the market, a sack at a time, and pay a porter to carry it home for you.

A close-up of a charcoal stove.

VSO gives us all a paraffin stove, and many of us use them. I hate them because of the smell which seems to linger in the house day and night.

We also have the choice of an electric hotplate. These are far quicker and easier than charcoal or wood or paraffin, but electricity is very expensive here.

Tom and I are some of the very few volunteers who have opted to cook on gas. It means we have instant heat, and we can cook indoors. The problem is that when the cylinder runs out (and you can never predict when that's going to happen), we have to commandeer the FHI pick-up truck to collect a replacement from the garage.

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