Cameroonian women support US women

Women’s empowerment is the main aim of Sacred Link Jewelry, a micro-enterprise initiative that provides technical training, business skills and market linkage for handmade, natural jewelry. The project is based out of the Himalayan Institute’s community center in Kumbo, Cameroon.

Recently, Himalayan Institute Cameroon’s Sacred Link Jewelry program has helped empower women outside of their West African community. Two US-based organizations, Child and Family Services of Buffalo, NY and the Victims’ Intervention Program of Honesdale, PA, received some of their handmade jewelry.

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Child and Family Services reached out to the Himalayan Institute for help with their Havan House Shelter, a project that provides services for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. The Himalayan Institute responded by donating Sacred Link Jewelry from West Africa to be used for fundraising. The jewelry was sold at an event at Himalayan Institute Buffalo and 100% of the proceeds went to the Havan House Shelter.

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Jewelry was also donated to the Victims’ Intervention Program, an organization that aims to educate the community on issues of domestic and sexual violence. This is a beautiful example of women empowering other women.


HumanitarianProjectsGet Involved

Our humanitarian programs provide training and opportunities for others to build a better life for themselves and your donations allow us to reach others in the most effective way.

Staff Spotlight: Steve Odnoha

Welcome back, Steve!

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After working at the Himalayan Institute’s newest campus in Khajuraho, India for nearly six months, Steve Odnoha is back at the Humanitarian HQ in Honesdale, PA.

What does Steve do? 

Well, technically speaking, Steve is the “Technical Projects Manager” for the Himalayan Institute’s Humanitarian Projects. Steve’s job is to determine what innovative technologies can be applied to increase our program’s effectiveness. Steve O. is often lovingly referred to as “MacgyvO” because of his knack for simplistic ingenuity, i.e., building something out of nothing! This ability is quite useful when working at our projects sites around the world, which often lack adequate industrial materials.

Steve has built solar power stations, wood drying kilns, ultra-sonic cleaners and even a gas laser! His credentials go on and on…

What are some fun facts about Steve?

  • Favorite food: Pizza
  • Favorite movies: Gladiator and Chicago
  • Favorite sport: Martial Arts
  • Places Steve’s lived prior to the USA: Bahrain, Korea, The Bahamas
  • Passions: Traveling, mission-based work and using his skills to make positive changes in the lives of others
  • Latest technical project: Wood drying kiln in Cameroon, West Africa
  • Upcoming projects: Installation of an industrial wood planer at our Cameroon carpentry school

Want to know more about Steve and his exciting adventures?

Subscribe to our blog and stay up-to-date on all HI Humanitarian news!

Carpentry School Expansion: Help us grow.

We are looking for donors to help our carpentry school grow and  acquire a much-needed piece of equipment. As a donor your name will be engraved on a plaque and installed next to the machine! Once installed we’ll email you a personalized photo >> DONATE TODAY

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A Wood Drying Kiln for Cameroon

Thanks to the support of donors like you, our center was able to construct the first wood drying kiln in the North West region of Cameroon in a town called Kumbo. 

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getting wood ready for drying in the new kiln

When the School of Carpentry and Construction (C&C) opened in 2009, local carpenters revealed that they were using unseasoned lumber to build furniture.  Unseasoned lumber is wood that is still green and contains moisture. Furniture made from unseasoned wood falls apart as the wood dries and begins to warp and twist within a few months, finish peels away.

 WiseGeek notes that without the proper humidity controls, the wood could still warp as it contracts. 

Using seasoned wood was time-consuming and expensive – it can takes 6 months for properly stacked wood to air dry in Cameroon which is cost-prohibitive for carpenters. To remedy the situation, the C&C, with local labor and a little innovation, constructed the first wood drying kiln in the region!

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The custom-made kiln, constructed with readily available material, is an enclosed space with temperature and humidity controls, provides the ideal wood drying conditions year-round. The large metal building is lined with wood panels that provide strength and insulation for stacked wood. The roof, made of corrugated sheet metal (painted black to help absorb solar heat) and transparent panels, installed at regular intervals, allows the sun to heat the sealed space.  Electric fans, installed at strategic locations, circulate the air and facilitate the removal of excess moisture from the lumber. Hot air is funneled in to the top of the kiln from the heater and cool air is circulated out of the kiln by way of a vent near the floor. For a solar design that you could build yourself, see what the folks at American Woodworker have to share.

Each type of wood has its own characteristics (based on species, moisture level, thickness of the cut, density) so the heat is adjusted to quickly evaporate the moisture from the surface of the stacks of wood, drying the lumber as evenly and as quickly as possible without warping, cracking or case-hardening. Engineers use a chart, like the one provided on the Structural Engineering Blog, for taking a range of tolerance in to consideration when selecting standard connectors for construction.

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A custom-built brick structure next to the kiln houses the sawdust burner. Sawdust, which is available in abundance from C&C, provides additional heat for the kiln. The sawdust burner, another local innovation, constructed from a 30-gallon oil drum encased in a 55-gallon oil drum – provides clean, renewable heat to take over for the sun in the rainy season.

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constructing a double-barrel sawdust burner

The double-barrel design that prevents the outside metal surfaces from getting too hot also prevents carbon monoxide poisoning, and prolongs the life of all the components.  To use, the removable inner barrel is filled with compacted sawdust that is lit with kindling in the ash cleaning draw.

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sawdust burner – close-up of outer barrel

Two exhaust pipes (also custom-made, local innovations), attached to the side of the large barrel, exhaust the smoke and allow for easy control of the heat level.

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sawdust burner: close up of ash cleaning draw

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On the day of the initial testing, the temperature of the stove quickly reached 750 degrees and stayed hot for hours, burning efficiently and cleanly. For kicks, our staff put a kettle on the burner to boil water.
People still come from all over the region to marvel at the wood drying kiln which dries wood in 4 months or less, is very cost-effective to operate, and consistently dries wood throughout the year. That’s progress!

Humanitarian Projects Notes

We would like to share a few highlights with you from our diverse Humanitarian project sites. Each sight has grown, keeps growing and calls to us for further growth and service.

VIDA Project

Geovas cosechando cropOur work in Mexico continues to grow, as any sustainable farming practice should! Our fundraising continues as we want to get as many of the families started with the nutrition counseling portion of the training in January. This knowledge is one of the most important tools we provide as a part of the program – it coaches the family in healthy eating habits which is the foundation to prevent dietary diseases.

News from Cameroon

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The Community Center in Cameroon continues to flourish and take on a life of its own. Word is out that there is something happening in Khumbo and that the Himalayan Institute is the place to be…carpenters want to work there (their furniture already commands a high price), more people are getting treated at the Total Health Clinic and everyone in the area comes to the library to read!

Khajuraho Construction

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Lets let the pictures from Khajuraho speak – this is already a massive undertaking in short order by Indian standards. Personnel from Honesdale are enroute to boost the efforts of the hardworking crew and put the finishing touches in place before the Kumba Mela (its not too late to sign up for the pilgrimage).

thumbnail-1Your interest, comments and ongoing support inspire us to find ways to bring our best intentions forward and into fruition in the developing world.
This is Yoga in Action!
Your generosity is needed in order to raise $19,000 to sponsor the remaining candidate families in the VIDA Project – each contribution of $50 supports one family.

Announcing VIDA to Honesdale!

Many thanks to the Honesdale community and HI guests and residents who attended last night’s Fiesta Benefit for VIDA at the Himalayan Institute! Also, congratulations to the support team who pulled it off behind the scenes. This dinner event raised the funds necessary to sponsor 40 people in the VIDA program for a full year!

Jeff Abella, HI Humanitarian Projects Manager, provided an exciting update on the VIDA project and answered questions after a lovely fiesta dinner of enchiladas, salsa, guacamole and chips, salad with cilantro dressing, fresh fruit and lemonade.

Chelsea Abella impressively coordinated and cooked the meal, serving smiles and homemade enchiladas. Special thanks to the entire kitchen staff for showing such support!

Salsa verde preparations…

Enchiladas rolled by hand…

Everyone was impressed with the documentary video (we will share it shortly) which introduced our HI Mexican manager, Geovanni, and the VIDA project staff. Our guests were equally moved by Jeff’s comments about activism for a worthy cause. The crowd that gathered after dinner focused their amazement on the immediacy and relevance of this simple but profound project. Jeff encouraged everyone to get involved in their own way to make a contribution to VIDA, from spreading the word about the project to raising awareness, to sponsoring an event of their own.

We look forward to hearing from you, learning about the events you organize and hearing what happens when you share the details of VIDA! Send us an email support@healthyVIDA.org