Posted by George Morrison

There is something satisfactory when, in a National scientific competition for schoolchildren the winner out of the 1,000 plus entries was the designer of a home-made stove. It heightens the satisfaction to learn that he did not make it for the cash prize nor for its marketing potential but to have it taken up by Charities working in developing countries. Richard O’Shea, an 18 year old sixth year student from Blarney, Co Cork, designed his biomass (wood dung and plant material) fired cooking stove out of tin cans. It can be made with a screwdriver, a small knife and a nail! The stove uses small quantities of fuel and produces little or no smoke. It is reckoned that over 2 billion people in the world depend on fires for cooking. These use a lot of fuel and produce smoke. The beauty of Richard’s simple design is that it can be made from materials readily available. The life-span of the stove was not examined but, given the ease with which it could be made; replacements could form a sustainable cottage industry! The welfare of the poor has always gone hand in hand with the proclamation of the Gospel in Scripture. In fact when St Paul was commissioned to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles the church leaders asked him to remember the poor back in Jerusalem. It was not as if St Paul was wealthy at the time, quite the reverse, but it was an accepted fact that when the lord saves a person from their sins he puts a desire into their hearts to give to those in need. Their attitude to money changes when Christ is Lord of all. Those who were converted to Christ during St Paul’s ministry contributed to the needs of the saints in the Jerusalem Church. Seldom is giving purely altruistic as the donor, be it an individual or the State, usually looks for some reciprocal benefit. What makes Richard’s gesture different is its generosity, a Christ-like commodity in a greedy world.