Montas Joseph, project director for Solar Oven Partners, a branch of the Methodist Volunteers-in-Mission program which operates in Haiti, recently spoke of the group’s efforts at the Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church. “You are a blessing for Haiti,” he told the group of around 20 assembled to hear his presentation. “The best way to help Haiti is mission teams. This way the money gets to the people,” he said. The poverty and lack of opportunity plaguing the country is standing in the way of a sustainable and acceptable ongoing quality of life for them. To move toward an improved existence for his fellow countrymen, Joseph reported that in the last 10 years the group has distributed over 2,000 solar powered ovens and trained Haitians on how to use them. This invaluable tool currently empowers these fortunate Haitian families to fight hunger, improve their families’ health status, clean up the environment and strengthen their household economics by cooking daily with the sun. Joseph told of the undesirable plight of the Haitian people. He said the water kills 300 children in Haiti every month. For example, his own daughter is suffering from typhoid fever from drinking the country’s untreated, contaminated water. “The solar oven is a miracle for Haiti,” he said. He went on to demonstrate how, coupled with water purifying tablets, the ovens can also be used for purifying water. The 2,337 solar ovens distributed to trained users by Solar Oven Partners, since the program’s inception nearly 10 years ago, is slowly but surely making a change in Haiti, with dedicated locals like Sue Holloway joining the cause. “Haitians that I’ve met are anxious to improve their lot in life and are eager to learn a new way of living rather than just surviving,” said Holloway, who has been on solar ovens missions a total of three times, to date. Joseph’s post-secondary education in the languages of Creole, English and French, led to careers in local business, with an international corporation, serving the United Nations, and as an interpreter for the Methodist Guest House in Port-au-Prince. He has worked with Solar Oven Partners since the inception of the Haiti Solar Oven Project in January 2000. He also shared details of the group’s mission at the United Methodist Church in Spearfish. — This story appears in Black Hills Pioneer.