After a few years of inactivity, Mr Lance Edwards has brought life to the Abilities Sheltered Workshop along 23rd Avenue in Belmont, Bulawayo.
With four deaf men, in November he cleverly started a project of making stoves out of old refrigerator gas tanks and, together, they have made over 400 stoves so far.
In an interview with this reporter, Mr Edwards said he chose to work with the deaf because it’s easier to work with them as, despite being disabled, they can at least see what they are working with in constructing the stoves.
“It has not been really easy working with them, as it is sometimes a challenge to demonstrate some concepts without explaining vocally. However, we have worked well with these gentlemen as they are hardworking and passionate about their work. When they have adequate knowledge about making these stoves, I will hand over the project to them as I have a lot of other things going on,” said the caring Mr Edwards.
He added that, the unique designs are very efficient as they require a small amount of firewood thereby reducing the negative impact on the environment.
“The stoves are more suitable for those who live in high density suburbs, where gas and firewood are expensive. Regardless of consuming less firewood, the stoves are really fast as they can boil water within a few minutes. We have also produced stoves with basic ovens and pizza ovens. They are also of good quality; we have customers who have used them for more than three years. However the stoves also have their disadvantages as they are only one plate stoves and they require attention as one has to keep adding firewood after every five to ten minutes,” said Mr Edward.
He added that before coming to the Abilities Sheltered Workshop, he was already in the process of manufacturing his some of various designs.
“I started making these a long time back. At first, I was making clay stoves and the uptake was slow as the community had plenty firewood and therefore no one really needed my kind of stoves. As a result, this time we have improved the stoves and they are more marketable as they are also suitable for an out of town environment,” said Mr Edward.
He added that, besides the stoves projects, he has been working on other community projects, like vegetable farming in communities, low cost housing kits and many other things.