Quitting Smoking – Kipkelion Style

One of the most exciting projects we are involved with in Kipkelion at the moment is the introduction of smokeless stoves.  Here’s how it works:

Traditionally, people in Kipkelion have cooked their food inside their houses using an open fire.  The main fuel they use is wood, and this has all sorts of awful consequences.  The house fills with smoke while they are cooking, and those who are inside the house – especially women and children – often develop lung and chest diseases from breathing the filthy air.  Some people go blind from prolonged exposure to the smoke.

And the open fires are very inefficient in terms of fuel – they consume a lot of wood, and the forests around Kipkelion are rapidly disappearing as a result.  So the environment is being destroyed – and the price of the firewood is rising as well.

Because of the shortage of firewood, people- and again it is usually women and children – are having to walk further and further to reach the forest where they can buy the wood.  Some are spending several hours a day walking to the forest and then carrying back an enormous, heavy bundle of firewood.

So on top of the health hazards, the environmental damage and the expense, getting wood for the stoves is an enormous waste of time for people in Kipkelion.  People would much rather be spending their time on more productive labour, such as growing crops for sale in the local market, or studying to go to college or to master a trade.

Together with our partners, Friends of Londiani, we are promoting the introduction of a simple stove which uses about 70% less firewood than the traditional open fires.  It comes with a chimney which ensures that the smoke is dispelled outside the house and keeps the living areas smoke free.  The stove is manufactured locally using local materials and is installed by local craftsmen – and the cost is only £25 per household!

There are about 40,000 families in Kipkelion who need one of these stoves – we are hoping to fund the introduction of a few hundred stoves as “demonstration models” across the area, and then help the wider population to get their own stoves through micro finance schemes and other incentives.  Training more technicians and craftsmen to build and install the stoves will be an important part of this initiative.

If you would like to help, why not donate the price of a stove or two?

A Day in the Life of a Girl in Kipkelion

You have to get up at 4 am.  Why?  Because you have to walk for at least an hour along muddy roads to get to school.  It’s at least 3 miles away!

Time for a wash – the water is cold.  There’s no hot water unless you light a fire to warm it up.  And there’s no water either, unless you fetch it.  A bucket of water is really heavy.  There’s no bath or shower in your house – just a bucket to wash in.  Usually a cold bucket.

If you’ve got your period, maybe you won’t be able to go to school – you don’t have any sanitary pads.  You and your family can’t afford them.  So you might miss a week of school each month.  You’ll be worried about falling behind in class, and maybe failing your exams.

Time for breakfast – if you can light the fire and heat up some porridge.  That’s all there is really – just porridge, and a cup of tea.

You’re doing all this in the dark – it doesn’t get light till 6 am, and there isn’t any electricity in your parents’ house.  It’s a wooden shack on a tiny farm in the middle of nowhere.

Time to set off for school – there is no school bus, and no car to take you.  You have to walk – it’s a good few miles.

When you get there, the school routine begins – morning assembly, maths, history, science, English.

Morning break – time for a trip to the loo.  It’s a latrine – that means a hole in the ground basically.  And there aren’t enough of them, so there is always a long queue.

Lunch time – what’s for lunch?  More porridge!  At least there’s plenty of it.

School finishes at 4pm.  It’s raining, and the roads are a sea of mud.  You walk back to your parents’ house, 3 miles in the rain.

When you get home, you’ve got homework to do, but your mother needs your help with milking cows, feeding goats, lighting fires, chopping wood, fetching water, looking after your little brothers and sisters…

And then you’ve got to wash your own clothes.  There’s no washing machine.  There’s no hot water.  So you wash your things by hand, in a bowl of cold water, using a bar of soap.  Hope everything dries in time…

Better do the homework now, but it’s very dark and the oil lamp you’ve got doesn’t make it easy.  At least there’s no TV or internet to distract you!

Time for supper….no, not more porridge – it’s beans this time!  You’re not surprised, as you had to pick them yourself and shell them yourself and cook them yourself, as your Mum was too busy.

9pm – time for bed.  You’re falling asleep anyway.  You and two of your sisters are all in one small bed.  It’s very dark.  You’ll wake up when the cocks start crowing.