Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Liberia ran out of "cooking gas" (propane) so all had to use charcoal cookers to cook their meals. Here's the process to get charcoal in Liberia.

Tanks of propane gas are used for stoves by those who can afford stoves and propane gas. This is what all the missionaries (including us) use to cook in their apartments. However, in August when Liberia ran out of propane gas (has to be shipped into the country), all the missionaries had to use charcoal for cooking. Here's the process to produce charcoal. First, limbs and trees are cut and stacked as you see here. This was next to a 2-bedroom apartment where we are looking to place missionaries. Elders Opuene, Njaga and Kirkham are in the picture. Notice the trench that has been dug that the limbs have been placed in. This charcoal is being prepared by a family. In commercial operations, they use 10-15 feet long trees, limbs, etc. in huge mounds, to make charcoal.
Then they cover the wood with palm leaves and then pack it with dirt as shown here. You can just see the head of man standing behind the mound. They leave air vents at the bottom and a hole at the top, put (pour) something to start the fire, light the fire and cover it quickly and let it burn four days. Then they uncover the charcoal and quickly spread it out and preferably use dirt to stop the charcoal from burning. Sometimes they sprinkle water on the charcoal, but that's tricky because it can make it hard to reignite the charcoal.
Then they bag the charcoal, put palm leaves at the top of the bag and transport truck, by taxi (as shown here) to wherever it will be sold.
We loved this picture which Judy took as we were driving by because it shows charcoal bags stacked on top of a truck, plus we loved the name of this local welding shop!

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