Bringing Biofuel to Bukavu

$7,288 of $8,000 goal

Raised by 99 people in 15 months


Life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is extremely difficult. So much of what we take for granted – clean running water, electricity, transportation – is just not available to most people there. Though the country happens to be rich in mineral wealth, corruption at all levels of government prevents money coming from the mining of minerals – minerals that are essential to the manufacture of the battery-operated gadgetry and vehicles upon which we are dependent – from reaching and helping the people. And the long-standing armed conflict between the military and warring factions keeps international aid providers at bay.
28437848_15212326890_r.jpegI am fortunate to have befriended a courageous young man in the DRC who blogs about conditions in his country, despite the scarcity of electricity and extremely limited access to the internet (he must walk miles to reach a public place with access). Not surprisingly, he uses a fictitious name online because anyone writing about conditions in the country runs the risk of severe retaliatory measures from the government.  Despite these dangers, he dreams of and advocates for ways to make life easier and better for the people of Bukavu (in the province of South Kivu) and in the country as a whole.

In the few years I’ve known him, he continually comes up with workable ideas to help his community. Thanks to donations from online supporters, he has managed to install water tanks in a school so that the girls no longer have to trek long distances every day to bring back water (yes, just the girls are expected to do this!), organize a summer workshop to teach young people marketable trade skills, and initiate a program to teach children why wildlife species need to be protected from game hunters, poachers and environmental destruction.
With just a small online donation that paid for the rough cutting of a steel barrel to allow for optimal burning, he was able to replicate a process he found on a YouTube video and create smokeless charcoal from agricultural waste he gathered locally.

He now hopes to expand this successful experiment to bring cleaner, cheaper charcoal to his community, while at the same time creating jobs. Young people would be employed in gathering agricultural waste and creating the ash needed to press into briquettes... AND women would be given a means to make money by marketing this cleaner coal for a fraction of the cost now paid by his community for their daily cooking needs.
This grassroots project will bring much-needed change to one small corner of a poverty-stricken country… and has the potential to expand and reach many more people. PLEASE JOIN ME IN HELPING TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.

The benefits would be considerable:
    ·      Cheaper, more environmentally friendly source of fuel
    ·      Job creation for young people
    ·      Eliminating the need for women to go out and gather wood (where they run the risk of being assaulted by roaming militia), thereby creating a safer environment for them
    ·      Creating a source of marketing income for women
    ·      Reinvestment of net profit to make the operation self-sustainable
    ·      Potential to expand the use of biomass charcoal village by village
    ·      Helping to preserve the habitat of endangered species

I'm really very excited about this project! All money raised will go toward the making and marketing of this new charcoal,  and will be transferred directly to this resourceful young man via Western Union. I hope you will consider donating... and will share this fundraiser with friends. Together we can do something to improve the lives of the people of Bukavu. 

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Hello again!

As GIVING TUESDAY (November 27th) kicks off this year's "Season of Giving," I just thought I'd reach out to say that if you've got anything left after all that Black Friday & Cyber Monday shopping ️, I do hope you'll consider giving a little more to Murhula's waste-into-fuel initiative. As you know, it began FROM NOTHING, but impressed the Paris Peace Forum organizers so much that they brought him to France to explain it to world leaders. (If you scroll down through the posts on my Facebook page, you'll find pictures and updates on efforts to get the word out, as well as the Forum itself: https://www.facebook.com/cmeyer.grfx)

It's going to take time for word to spread locally so that the project can become self-sustaining. In the meantime, if you could somehow manage another small donation to keep it going during this difficult time, it will help so much... and be very much appreciated. ❤️

'Tis the season...
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Some fantastic news to report!

Not only is Murhula now able to attend the African Youth Summit in Ghana (Nov. 7-9) for which he was selected (thanks to enough donations coming into another GoFundMe campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/opportunity-for-a-young-changemaker)
but he had also submitted his biofuel project to the first Paris Peace Forum to be held Nov. 11-13. And out of almost 900 projects submitted worldwide, HIS WAS ONE OF THOSE CHOSEN!! The PPF will pick up all expenses to take him from Accra, Ghana to Paris, France!! HOW GREAT IS THAT??!!!!

For more about the projects, and the PPF in general, go to this webpage: https://parispeaceforum.org/, then click on the "projects" tab at the top.

For the selected project leaders, it is the opportunity to connect with global governance actors to discuss their ideas and make them known with experts and decision-makers, liaise with potential funders and ultimately push their initiative further towards successful implementation.

It is indeed a reason to celebrate, and offers hope that he'll be able to make connections that will help him take this project much further!

In the meantime, the project has incurred some unanticipated costs so the funding goal has been raised a bit. In order to operate "legally" in the D.R. Congo, Murhula has had to pay fees to be covered under the umbrella of a non-profit, has had to work hard to try to improve the burn rate of the briquettes, and has incurred costs relating to getting the word out to the people about the benefits of switching to this kind of charcoal. So FYI, donations are still welcome... and much appreciated.
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Another update!

Hello dear friends and supporters,

Once again, thank you all for your support in making my dream a reality.

Thanks to your support, I now have six young boys collecting mountains of organic waste that the government is incapable of removing, and turning it into clean, cheaper cooking energy to replace wood-based charcoal. Streets are cleaned, jobs are created, trees are saved and young people are inspired by our initiative.

Last Sunday we were offered an opportunity to present our products to over 3,000 men and women. Many of them had a hard time believing the waste they throw away can be transformed into cooking charcoal. They asked questions, inspected the products and praised the idea. We were able to sell all 150 bags of charcoal that we brought with us. All buyers said they would go home and try it, and if it worked well, they would become consumers of our products.

As I've said before, it is going to take patience, strategies and resources to get people used to our products as they have been using wood charcoal for centuries and had no idea waste could be turned into clean charcoal. We need to overcome the belief that what comes out of waste is useless, even before trying our charcoal and seeing that it burns well. But we are determined to save the forest, to clean the city, to create more jobs, to inspire young people to get involved, and to provide women with clean and cheaper cooking energy. We will continue to sensitize people until they get used to our products and give up wood charcoal.

Thank you so much,

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Hello dear friend and supporter,

First of all, I would like to thank you for your interest in my project and for your donation to help make it a reality. Indeed, we are working hard to improve the quality of our briquettes (charcoal) so they can allow families to cook food without spending much money and without destroying the forest. Thanks to your support, we have been able to make some improvements in our briquettes so that now people are noticing our products, even if it is happening slowly.

To improve our products, we reduced the size of the briquettes and increased the compression. The compression was increased by assigning four team members to use the machine press instead of two. Despite this significant improvement, we continue to learn how to make our products even better.

On Friday, we launched our product on the market. This new phase began with a demonstration we had at my church in front of 55 women. After explaining to the women the constitution of our products and how good they are for the environment, as well as for the financial situation and health of the family, we demonstrated how the briquettes burn and the best way of using them.

The women were amazed because they never imagined that charcoal could come out of the waste they throw away every day. We showed them the two types of briquettes that we make: the white one made out of paper and saw dust, and the black one made out of carbonized organic waste. After the demonstration, we sold 50 packets of charcoal to the 55 women and 20 more packets to other women we met along the street on our way back home.

Dear friend, this wouldn't be possible without your help. Thanks to your support, we are fighting deforestation in the Kivu region, which is home to the Virunga National Park – the oldest African park with the last family of mountain gorillas – and the Kahuzi Biega National Park, a home for lowland gorillas. Thanks to your support, we are cleaning our environment, and saving women's lives since they will no longer have to inhale smoke while cooking. Women who use our products are no longer polluters but protectors of the environment.

The challenges are still so many, dear friend. As you know, we are trying to change the habit of using wood charcoal – a habit that has been around for centuries. It is not easy. It is not easy because it requires patience, financial means and hard work. As we are still at the beginning, we are working at a loss because expenses are much higher than our income. So please, I ask you not to give up on me during this difficult time when I am trying to end a practice that has been here for decades. I remain determined.

Thank you so much for your continued trust and support.

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$7,288 of $8,000 goal

Raised by 99 people in 15 months
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