Hello, my name is Olivia Alland and I am excited for the opportunity to be interning with SHE this summer. I want to introduce myself and share some of my experiences regarding dirty cook stoves, as well as some of the negative effects I observed. I have traveled a fair amount, but the fall of 2017 was my first experience traveling to developing countries. I spent three months in East Africa, specifically Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda respectively.
During my second week in Tanzania, the group I was with volunteered in a health clinic at Mesarani Snake Park. I vividly remember this young girl, maybe 6 or 7 years old, who was sitting in one of the exam rooms getting her bandages changed. I asked the nurse what happened to her arm, and the nurse explained that her clothes had caught fire while she was cooking. The girl had third degree burns from her shoulder all the way down to her hands. Because she lived 15 miles away from the nearest clinic, her parents didn’t take her in to get treatment for weeks. The burns had become infected, and the nurse had to peel the charred skin off the girl’s arm, which resulted in flesh being exposed. I remember being shocked and angry that this sweet little girl was put in a situation where she could get burned. Later, one of my leaders explained to me that it was the children’s job to do the majority of the cooking for their families and that burns and fire related injuries are unfortunately a fairly common occurrence.
My other encounter with non-clean cook stoves took place during my homestay in a village located in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya. Our house mom, Emily, would cook for her family and the guests three meals a day. During the evenings I would join her and the girls in the kitchen to help with food preparation and to socialize. The stove was a fire that the girls had built out of firewood. Within 5 minutes of being in the kitchen my eyes would be watering like crazy, and I would have to step outside because the smoke was really bothering me. The women in the village had become accustomed to the smoke, but the amount of time spent in this type of environment daily is not healthy.