When the Student Becomes the Teacher, Part I February 18 2015

Sustainable User Uptake Program (SUUP), Part I

Story & Photos by Maureen Mumo

It is within the confines of a lecture hall that the learner-centered approach is used. The approach has garnered a lot of support from scholars around the world. They pride themselves with this breakthrough and I must say so do I. My journey begins on a very high note. I left for Kithyoko (a region in the lower Eastern part of Kenya) to go and meet with the end users. My assignment was to gather information on the EcoZoom stoves, to find out whether they are holding up. This is part of our Sustainable User Uptake Program where we check in on our customers. One of the components of the program is monitoring and evaluation. It entails customer follow up and impact assessment. This was my mission in lower Eastern. 

Jonathan Muoki was the sales agent assigned to take us to the end users he sold to. To our delightful surprise, we found him in the middle of a training session. He later told us that it was an impromptu meeting. He draws his customers mainly from women's groups and on this day he was called abruptly to talk about the EcoZoom products. He had laid out the company's products and was teaching about their benefits. As he went on, the trainees took over the session and he was pushed to the background. It was a hands on kind of session. It's as if the products spoke for themselves. This lot was full of people of great ingenuity. The trainees quickly started interacting with the products. They looked for the sticks to light and lit the fire as well. They also looked for a sufuria and water that was to be boiled. They proved first hand that what Jonathan was talking about was true.

Jonathan Muoki (EcoZoom T-Shirt), sales agent, lets community members test the products in a hands-on demo

It was not long before people started gathering around. Children were also pulled in to the EcoZoom spectacle. At this point, the students became the teachers. The trainees started communicating the benefits to the other people gathered. They were genuinely intrigued by the products. The EcoZoom stoves brought with them a new era. The stoves were calling for a paradigm shift in their lives (from the three stone fire and the Kenya Ceramic Jiko to EcoZoom's energy saving products). Jonathan even made a sale during this short training session.

After the training session, Jonathan had the chance to take us to people who had already interacted with the products. The women using the stoves said that they no longer had headaches, breathing problems and did not have problems with their eyes due to carbon emission. They were sceptical about a stove so beautifully designed being able to cook muthokoi (maize without husks; a dish among the Kamba community from the Eastern part of Kenya). I asked one of the women I visited to describe the transformation in her life and she had this to say, "I would say to every woman that not owning the stove is burning your money. I would tell them to suspend buying whatever they are saving for and buy the stove. I did that and I do not regret it even for a single day. The stove cooks all meals very well. It is very efficient."

We were glad to see the transformation in these households; One EcoZoom stove at a time...