Rotary Connection

Tom Burns, the inventor of the SUN OVENS®, was a member of Rotary International for more than 40 years. It was Tom’s involvement in Rotary that showed him the need people around the world had for a way to cook that did not require cutting down trees.

A VILLAGER SUN OVEN® at the Village of Hope School donated by Rotary District 6930 of Boca Raton Florida.


Since 1986, Rotarians have supported SUN OVEN® projects on five continents, saving countless trees and improving the lives of thousands of people. Rotary still remains an active participant in numerous projects around the world.

Tom Burns (left), the SUN OVEN® inventor, Paul Munsen President of SUN OVENS International, and Rotarian Ken Schumann of Hartland, Wisconsin supervise the preparation of a sun-cooked meal. Ken Schumann coordinated a matching grant through the Rotary Foundation to provide two VILLAGER SUN OVENS® for Port-au-Prince, Haiti.



District Governor-elect Kent Converse, of district 5690, and Rotarian Sam Muyskens demonstrate a GLOBAL SUN OVEN® to members of the Rotary Club Cap-Haitian, Haiti. The Rotary Clubs of District 5690, in cooperation with the Cap-Haitian Rotarians, are starting a GLOBAL SUN OVEN® assembly plant in Lambert, Haiti in January 2004.




The TEMPLE SOLAR PROJECT (TSP) is a district level of Rotary District 6450 (the birthplace of Rotary Chicago) program established in November of 1997 in memory of Past District Governor William Temple (’94-’95).

In many underdeveloped nations, all cooking and baking is done with wood or wood converted to charcoal. Population growth has gradually consumed available fuel and now requires daylong journeys by women and children to locate remaining wood in many deforested lands. The conversion of scarce wood to charcoal in order to bake basic staples such as bread wastes 60% of the fuel, damages the body, deforests the land and pollutes the air. The VILLAGER SUN OVENS®, provided through the funding campaigns of the Temple Solar Project, can bake hundreds of loaves of bread, cook all forms of food or purify water.


One of the many Micro-Sun-Bakeries provided by the Temple Solar Project in Honduras.
The Temple Solar Project facilitates the funding to purchase these large ovens, arranges a partnership with Rotary Clubs in receiving nations and manages the shipment. Receiving clubs arrange for the delivery, set up and training to put the project into effect. This solar energy cooking and baking equipment forms the nucleus of micro-bakeries, which serve the basic needs of small communities and enable women to learn enterprise and greater self-sufficiency.




To date more than 50 VILLAGER SUN OVENS® will have been placed throughout the world in order to accomplish this improvement. These countries were poor to start with and have suffered due to natural disasters or war. The countries that have benefited from this project include:

Afghanistan Ghana Malawi South Africa
Angola Guatemala Namibia Swaziland
Argentina Haiti Nepal Thailand
Bolivia Honduras Nigeria Turkey
Burkina Faso India Panama Uganda
The Dominican Republic Kenya Sri Lanka Zambia
Ethiopia North Korea Soma Zimbabwe

These ovens are being used to provide food for refugee camps, aids orphans, schools, hospitals and remote villages that are frequently women enterprise projects.

Why Solar Ovens?
Ever since man discovered fire, he began to change the ecology of the world. The industrial age saw tremendous strides in the consumption of wood and other fossil fuels, leading to pollution on a worldwide scale and to depletion of valuable natural resources. The demands of massive population growth and the inefficient conversion of wood to charcoal have outstripped the third world’s forests ability to regenerate. The ecological effect of wood fuels is burdensome and has a far-reaching negative global impact.

These global trends will surely lead to environmental destabilization in two major ways, deforestation and global warming. Science strongly supports the fact that deforestation for agricultural and fuel use is changing weather patterns, causing soil erosion and depleting plant and animal life. It is predicted that wide-spread suffering will occur, including forced migration, crop failures, famine, destructive weather patterns and economic mayhem.

No one on earth will be spared from these events, but those groups with the least resources and ability to respond will suffer the most.

One-half of the world cooks with wood or charcoal fires. Fuelwood shortages make essential, daily cooking very difficult for one-fourth of humanity. As forests are eliminated, villagers have to travel great distances to find wood. This often takes half of their day or requires that they spend half of their household income for cooking fuel. Solar cooking can have an enormous impact on the everyday life of millions of people in underdeveloped countries. Smoke from cooking fires is the leading cause of infectious lung afflictions among young children leading to the death of over five million children in the third world each year.

The benefits are to:

  •  provide a source of safe, sustainable energy
  •  prevent deforestation from creating irreparable ecological destruction
  •  provide nutritional, inexpensive food for local citizens
  •  establish self-sustaining micro-bakeries
  •  improve the quality of life
  •  aid villages with community development through micro-enterprise and economic empowerment

A well-known proverb states, “Feed a starving man a fish and you’ve nourished him for a day. Teach him to fish and he can feed himself for a lifetime.”


  • Reduced the demand on the forest
  • Reduced global warming
  • Helped curtail infectious lung afflictions
  • Created jobs
  • Provide new opportunities for communities to grow and prosper

ROTARIANS are making a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in developing countries. Over the next decade, we will make a difference in the lives of all of mankind. Empowering the weak through micro-enterprise offers the greatest potential to alleviate poverty and enhance the quality of life for generations to come.

You can help by supporting THE TEMPLE SOLAR PROJECT. Get involved! Adopt a village! Make a difference! Contact:

Patricia Merryweather
Rotary Club of Naperville
234 DiLorenzo Drive
Naperville, Illinois 60505
United States of America
(630) 416-8693 (evenings)
(630) 202-5579 (cell)

One of the VILLAGER SUN OVENS® purchased and donated by the Rotary Club of Naperville, Illinois. They, along with the other Rotary Clubs of Rotary District 6450, have started a major drive of support for solar cooking and the use of renewable resources, called “The Temple Solar Project.” This project has placed more than 40 Micro-Sun-Bakeries on 3 continents.





SUN OVENS® were invented by a Rotarian in 1986. Since then thousands of people in more than 126 countries have benefited from these wonderful devices that cook with the power of the sun. Our objective is to bring together like-minded Rotary Clubs from around the world, committed to placing solar ovens in developing countries plagued by poverty and deforestation to save lives by preserving forests.

Rotary projects serve as a model to the world that solar energy and micro-enterprise can be combined to create self-sustaining solutions to environmental and economic dilemmas. We have identified worthy projects around the world and are seeking to match these projects with Rotary clubs and districts that want to make a difference. We stand ready to assist in matching clubs and districts with projects. When you provide SUN OVENS® to a deforested area, you are creating a sustainable international project for your club with social, economic and environmental benefits for many years to come.

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