Archive for the ‘Demonstrations’ Category

Mail & Guardian recognition


Community Renewable Energy Award
Sponsored by Eskom
Winner: Vuka Energy Savings

By Mandi Smallhorne

“This is witchcraft,” says a woman as she opens a Wonderbox and finds a pot of cooked lentils and rice inside, steaming hot.
“No, it is science,” says the presenter, Florentina Radebe. “Aaaah!”

Vuka Presenters demonstrate simple, effective cooking technologies such as brick and drum rocket stoves.


The presenter is trained by Vuka Energy Savings, and she is showing people in the Stanford community how to save time and energy – both their own energy as well as paraffin and electricity.

Villagers formed the Stanford Housing Development Co-operative in the Western Cape in 2007 to lobby for low-cost housing. While waiting for action from the government, the idea arose that home owners would need to know how to use the electricity they hoped would be installed in the first home they’d ever owned.
Elma Hunter, the co-operative’s secretary, had previously used old fashioned hayboxes to cook food and she started Vuka Energy Savings.

The project has given six trained presenters Wonderboxes, three have been given brick rocket stoves and one a drum rocket stove. All these simple cookers use insulation to save energy.
Driven by their own experience of using the simple technology to save money, the presenters go into the community and demonstrate them at homes, libraries and clinics.
At the same time they show each household that it has all that’s needed – such as a blanket, duvet, towels or newspaper – to make their own heat retention wonderbox.
They also demonstrate other energy-saving technologies such as solar cookers and lights.
“We are saving at least R300 a month in my home” says one of the trainers. “There are four shacks in my yard and they now know how to use the brick or drum rocket stove to heat water.

“Using small twigs, they cook food for 10 to 30 minutes and put the pot into the Wonderbox which I provide. When Stanford could not access pre-paid electricity for 27 hours recently, we had cooked food and hot water.”

Vuka has trained four Afrikaans and 13 isiXhosa presenters; nine work in Hermanus and the rest work in Stanford. The team makes decision about their future plans and how best to teach community members.
Hunter raises donations to pay for the groceries needed for demonstrations, though often this money comes out of her purse.

Stanford residents are now making and selling Wonderboxes and profits are ploughed back into the project.
Residents have become creative with these low-tech solutions. A Stanford marketer now makes yogurt in glass jars wrapped in mohair blankets, while a substistence farmer who had lost a brood hen to a predator, managed to use the Wonderbox concept to complete the incubation of her eggs. Benefits extend beyond the reduced use of wood, electricity, gas or paraffin, says Hunter.
The ever-present danger of fire in homesteads is also reduced, as is damage to trees and harm to people’s health caused by wood and paraffin stoves used in a confined space It also saves women time which can be better spent on other tasks.


WCC Eco School Expos

VUKA joins Whale Coast Conservation at school events.


Zwelihle Primary School - Inter schools


Mt Pleasant Primary School


Mt Pleasant Primary School

Zwelihle Primary School - Inter schools

Stellenbosch Interest

11th February 2012

Johan Jooste and Wiseman Ndamasi of Stellenbosch and Zwelithemba Patrein of Zwelihle accompanied by Nico and Loel Ferreira discuss the Vuka products and processes with Elma Hunter and Florentina Radebe with a view of taking the technology to Wiseman’s home town Cungcwini 18 km east of Idutywain the Eastern Cape.

Zwelithemba Patrein comes from Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape and will spread theWonderbox word there as well.


Florentina and Elma with their guests.

The Energy Ball



Product Display

20th January 2012

Ian, Helen and Alex Hetherington from Fish Hoek were invited by Nico and Loel Ferreira to view the Vuka “range” of products.

Alex Hetherngton is an environment consultant for corporate business.

Elma Hunter displayed all the products on the stoep of her home in Stanford.

The display included a cardboard box to simulate a shack with the Bottle Lamp providing light. This was the first time this was displayed.


Vuka Products on display

Product Line


Another new product in the range is the Consol Solar Jar and we were all most impressed.

Consol Solar Jar

OCF Eco Schools Demo

The OCF (Overstrand Conservation Foundation) now called WCC (Whale Coast Conservation) asked for a special demonstration and workshop for their Eco School Teachers. This was held on 18/080/2011 at the Zwelihle Primary School aftercare facility.

The Wonderbox cooking and the making of Energy Balls and Sleeping Bags were demonstrated.

The technology will be taken into all the Overstrand Eco Schools and the Sleeping Bags will be made for the learners attending the Eco School Camps.

Elma Hunter demonstrating the making of Energy Balls.

Zwelihle Demo and Training Session 04/08/2011

Potential trainers were invited to a demo / training session at the RDP on 4th August 2011. Members of the community soup kitchen also attended.

Some people had tried out the Wonderbox and were back for more information.

The Wonderbag is opened and the Rice and Lentils are cooked!

"Eish its magic".

Zwelihle Demo 14/07/2011

On a lovely warm day an outdoor demo was given to the Zwelihle community at the RDP. It was also attended by OCF (Overstrand Conservation Foundation). People kept arriving and there was much enthusiasm.

First Zwelihle Demo at RDP

29th June 2011

The first demo at the RDP was a hit with the 9 Zwelihle community women and men!!!  who attended.  They were introduced to the Wonderbox by very enthusiastic presenter Nokuthula Florentina. They couldn’t believe how simple and within their means it would be to make their own boxes from recycle materials and also that the rice and lentils could cook in 10 minutes in this wonder box!!!!. Florentina also demonstrated the making of Energy Balls. The audience asked when there will be another demo for others to see. We have promised to post this information up at the RDP Soup Kitchen.


Stove on the go

Anton Boshoff from Stanford set up his Rocket Stove and there was much discussion about how to make these. Everyone was very pleased with the incredible warmth is generated on so little fuel.
More demos are definitely required so we will be investigating means of raising some funds to continue as well as to train more presenters.