Imagine what would happen if your fireplace flue was closed. All the wood smoke would fill your home and your lungs. That’s exactly the conditions I witnessed in Losirwa, a tiny Tanzania village. Here Masai women live in small round bomas (traditional homes) with their families and tend the fire that keeps their homes warm and is used to prepare food.
The smoke from these open-fire stoves can cause cancer, emphysema, pneumonia, blindness and burns. Every member of the family including children is at risk.
I visited the village with G Adventures, a supporter of the Clean Cookstove Project. There were six of us in the tour group and we crowded into the first boma to witness what it is like living in a smoke-filled home. There are many organizations sponsoring similar projects all over the world.
When we exited, a small group of curious children had gathered. They were eager to have their pictures taken and clambered to see the instant images.
The next boma was completely different. The air was clean in the darkened room; the only light coming from the doorway. A clean air stove had been installed here. It looked the same as the previous one, but had a chimney.
Our final stop was a home where a stove was being installed. Two tribe women (stove engineers) were building a chimney using a termite mound compound and water as mortar for the bricks. For the area where the chimney passes through the roof, they use cement. This is a new role for these women. The women are often in need of employment because they are widows or their husbands are disabled. This job is in addition to caring for their children and homes.
We watched the team expertly work on the new stove.
The woman who lives in this boma is a widow. Outside she was tending to the cattle and watching the children play.
Everyone was welcoming and gracious. After our stove tour, we stayed a little longer and talked with the women and children before leaving. The positivity of G Adventures is getting to know the Tanzanian people as much as it is about seeing the country’s extraordinary wildlife.