Time for a cuppa

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Being offered a cup of tea in a hot country may not seem like the most refreshing beverage to serve, but, being English, on can never turn down a cup of tea. And this was tea with a difference. The typical hot sugary drink served in a tiny glass which burns your fingers was simply delightful. It had only taken an hour to make.

My tiny little glass of tea had been made in a solar cooker. Capitalising on the greatest resource this country has – an abundance of sunlight – cooking with it seems logical. Using a simple contraption essentially made from cardboard, silver foil and a black pot with a plastic bag, almost any recipe can be cooked using the sun’s heat.

The family next door had left beans to cook to be ready for the end of the school day, another had rice cooking, and this pot of tea before me was almost ready. A simple device, yet invaluable in an arid environment where the nearest source of firewood is 15km away. Women who would spent almost half the week collecting firewood to cook, now only leave the camp once every two weeks. Girls who would miss out on valuable schooling as they had to go and get firewood are now getting an education.

There is no smoke, no coughing, choking, or red eyes. The sun does the work and the women are free to do something else. In a refugee camp, having time to spend on something other than basic survival is simply precious. They no longer have to leave the camp to collect firewood so often, protecting them from attacks as they leave the safe perimeters of the camp.

This was a very special cup of tea.

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