July 11, 2020
By Colleen Walton
One of FHF’s partners, the Mwende women’s group, consists of 70 women whose main livelihood is farming. These women, and most rural Kenyan women, cook over an open fire in enclosed kitchens. A serious concern we have seen is the coughing and watering eyes of the women and young children as they cook amidst the smoke.
Indoor air pollution is a problem in Kenya and around the world. The World Health Organization estimates that 3.8 million people a year die prematurely from illness such as pneumonia and lung cancer caused by household air pollution.
Farmers Helping Farmers undertook the challenge of providing better cooking methods to reduce smoke exposure for women and children. FHF identified a made-in-Kenya stove with an insulated firebox, a tight-closing door, and a vent to a chimney.
Through a partnership with the Charlottetown Rotary Club and Global Affairs Canada, all women from the Mwende group received these fuel-efficient, vented ‘jikos’. These jikos address our primary concern of preventing illness for women and children, but also reduce fuel-gathering work and cutting trees.
The appreciation for this work was expressed by the Mwende women's group in a letter to FHF.
Here's an excerpt from that letter:
As Mwende Women Self Help Group, we would wish to pass our heartfelt gratitude for your overwhelming heart of mercy and love for us. Words alone cannot express our joy for the much you have sacrificed to see us develop and consequently rise our living standards.
We would wish to notify you … the Jikos have successfully been received and installed. The members are so happy since the cost of firewood has reduced with more than half. We are grateful for this noble plan to be a blessing to Mwende group. In total 70 members have benefited from this great project. You have a big heart.
All of this work was completed over the period of March to July 2020, amid the chaos of COVID-19 and a rainy season that slowed down the drying of the bricks.
We feel honoured to have the support of many groups and individuals, including the Charlottetown Rotary Club, to help improve the lives of these incredibly resilient women.