There is an old Swahili saying, “Jikoni ni sehemu ya mwanamke” meaning “the kitchen is the place of the woman”.
The more time we spend on the ground visiting the villages, the clearer it becomes. In every home we meet incredible people who are caring for and cooking for large families. These people in particular women have spoken about the positive impacts our stoves have had on their lives, and even on the lives of their young girls who would otherwise be out in the field collecting firewood.
Jumma’s Story, Time to be a kid!
Recently however while working in Maungu Village, we stumbled across a household that is a little bit different from most of the houses we have visited in the past. This household and kitchen is cared for by Jumma Hussein, an 18 year old boy. Jumma is a real inspiration, and we would like to share his story with you.
Jumma lives in a 2 bedroom home, with his 5 siblings and his ageing grandmother who is unable to look after the homestead. As the first born, when his parents moved to Voi (the nearest town) to seek employment they left him in charge of the home. Jumma has been caring on his own for his family since he was sixteen.
“My brothers and sisters are smaller so they cannot do everything but they can help me. When they are at school, I am the one who collects the kuni (firewood) from the forest outside. I bring the kuni home and I prepare the meals for the family. I prepare 2 meals a day and tea. When we did not have the new stove I would collect everyday. Now it is good because I am only collecting 3 times a week. This is good for me because it means I have saved some time also. So now I can play football and not worry because I can still make sure the food is ready for my family. I am still a little bit young and I am still wanting to sit outside with my friends but with the old stove, it was not possible because I would be collecting kuni and cooking all day. And also sweating because of all the smoke and heat. My friends they told me they would forget what I look like because they do not see me because I was always cooking. Now it is good. I can cook, and I can clean and I can also have time for my friends. Very Very good co2balance”
Jumma is only 18 and has been burdened with the responsibility of looking after his entire family. Often, social conditions can strip the youth in Africa of their childhood and force them into taking on certain responsibilities much sooner in life. Jumma never once complained that he had to do this. But, watching him cook his grandmother’s porridge and then go and sit with his friends under a tree, laughing and joking like a regular teenager brought smiles to our faces. It was another example of how the impacts of our projects go beyond just carbon saving. Today we helped a kid just be a kid.