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It's fall, and this is my favorite time of year. One of my favorite things about this season is spending time outside by a fire. If you've ever cooked over a campfire, you know it can be fun for a time, but let's be honest — no one really enjoys getting smoke in their eyes. When I get back to "civilization," I'm always thankful for conveniences like central heating and a modern kitchen.

Biogas needed

Now, I want to you to imagine that your only option for cooking is a fire — not an enclosed stove, but an open fire in a pit in the center of your dirt floor. You certainly grow tired of getting smoke in your eyes, but you have bigger problems: Your family begins to experience health problems after prolonged exposure to the smoke, and you live with the constant worry that one of your small children might fall into the fire.

In many of the places where Heifer International works, this is a daily reality. In addition to the health and safety concerns, there is the threat of deforestation as trees are cut for firewood. Moreover, the task of gathering firewood usually falls on women and girls. The time they spend at this chore could be better spent caring for their families or pursuing an education.

Biogas stove in action

But thanks to an ingenious thing called biogas, this is starting to change. Through a relatively-simple process, Heifer's project participants can capture methane gas (a byproduct of livestock manure) and use it to power stoves, lanterns and even small generators. Our biogas program in Uganda recently received recognition from InterAction, which honored the program with its Best Practice award.

Although many of us take these things for granted, safe and clean means of cooking or lighting can have a tremendous impact on a family. In this video, a young family in Cameroon shows us around their small farm's biogas plant, sharing a first-hand account of how this innovation is helping them break out of poverty and giving them hope for the future.

Today we celebrate Giving Tuesday, a day when we look past the flurry of traditional holiday shopping and think of ways to help those who are less fortunate. This year, Heifer International is offering biogas stoves in our holiday gift catalog, and for just $50 you can honor a loved one with a gift that will help a family get clean, reliable and efficient energy. So why not give a biogas stove today? Imagine the look on the face of that special someone when they realize they got a biogas stove for their holiday gift.

This post is part of our What to Give series, where we're helping you choose the best Heifer gift for your loved ones. Read previous What to Give posts here, and subscribe to the What to Give series here.

Still don't know what to give? Check out our entire online Gift Catalog. If you're interested in learning more about the technology behind biogas, read our previous posts, "Build Your Own Biogas Generator" and "How to Make Biogas at Home."



Casey Neese