I plan on observing Valentine’s Day today with a cupcake from my local bakery, Cupcake Cafe. But if I was in Eldoret, Kenya, I might be celebrating with a cake from the newly established Seeing is Believing Cafe, run by Camily and Gaudenziah Wedende.
Tanya visits Camily's solar cooker shop in August 2011. People gather to hear about using the strange boxes to cook food.
Gaudenziah, whose husband Camily has received several grants from Spirit in Action to promote and sell solar cookers out of the front of their home, was recently inspired with a new business plan. She knew that solar cookers use the power of the sun to cook foods such as meat, beans, eggs, rice, and vegetables. Then, in October I emailed to the Wedendes a story from the Solar Cookers International newsletter.
The article, about the work of Light Gives Heat in Kisumu, Kenya, told of the great opportunity of baking with solar cookers. “Most people cannot make high-quality cakes because of the irregular temperatures of charcoal and wood stoves, but solar cookers bake perfect, moist cakes with very little worry of burning or over-cooking.”
The story sparked Gaudenziah and Camily into action! “We shall be selling cakes and tea and we will also be boiling eggs in the solar cookers and people can buy when they pass beside the cafe,” wrote Camily excitedly to me.
They already have the solar cookers that Camily made from wood, glass, and reflective tinfoil, and they were able to use some of the profits from their cooker sales to buy a few baking supplies and paint for a sign. “SEEING IS BELIEVING CAFE is a wonderful name,” declares Camily, “because people are seeing, testing food that has been cooked in the solar cookers, then they believe and then they end up buying the cooker!”
Gaudenziah pours sun cooked tea for a customer.
A Sunny Outlook
It isn’t hard to see now, in the sunny season in Eldoret, that solar cookers can produce good tasting local foods, without using expensive charcoal or spending all day walking to gather wood for a traditional three-stone fire. “Right now we are in the dry season and now our solar cookers can cook all types of food in a short time, like 3 hours,” says Camily, in the sales pitch for his hand-made solar cookers.
Proudly, Camily and Gaudenziah reported this month, “With the profits that come out of the business, we are able to pay school fees for David our son [in 10th grade] and we have some to put back into the business.”
I wonder how solar cooked cupcakes taste. Hopefully someday I’ll get to taste, see, and believe for myself!
Tanya visits Gaudenziah at her family's thriving Solar Cookers business in Eldoret, Kenya.