We are often asked how we measure our success. I would have to say, for WorldStove, success is when our local partners start to see how their work is bringing positive change to their own communities and when they take ownership of that we can call it success. One of the most memorable instances of this came while we were in Haiti, during the relief efforts following the devastating 2010 earthquake. Walner was working on an institutional LuciaStove that was intended to be used in one of our hot meal programs in a local refugee camp. The stove was an urgent need because without it people would not be eating. Walner however insisted on making trees and birds on the stove. These were difficult days and almost everyone there had lost someone so it struck me that someone was taking the time to decorate a stove. When I asked him why he said “this is to let people know that if they use LuciaStoves the trees will come back to Haiti and then so too the birds” …. up until that moment i have never paid attention to the fact that days would go by without seeing even one bird, but for Haitians who still remember lush forests the absence of birds is a daily reminder that trees are more than just plants, they are a framework for the countries ecosystems and economy.
Walner knew this and thanks to him I did too… that is when I knew, this program was successful for it had become Walner’s, it had become Haiti’s