The stories of patients with serious burn wounds in the SKM Hospital are often very similar. "The child crawled into the kitchen fire and suffered serious burns when it was alone as a baby“, is the story told by relations. The story often continues with : “we didn't have the money to visit a distant hospital for the necessary medical treatment.“
Treatment at the SKM Hospital significantly improves the patient's living condition, but I have always wanted to avoid burn injuries altogether.
The open fire in rural kitchens is often responsible for the chronic bronchial inflamation seen even in young people. After the father of one of our employees died from an asthma attack I became really interested in alternatives to open fires.
The "Little Doctor" in the health post in Dhadagaun, told me about a „modern clay cooker“ with a chimney, and put me in touch with Bel Bahadur Tamang the cooker manufacturer.
Bel Bahadur accepted the offer to build a sample stove in the household of the employee who's father had recently passed away due to asthma and the first clay stove with a chimney and room for two cooking pots was built. The housewife was immediately very enthusiastic and told her neighbours.
There were two reasons for that:
That was the place where I could step in and help. I offered him regular payment for his work making stoves ; so he had the opportunity to work primarily as stove manufacturer.
A large meeting for the local women was organized together with the health education teacher in Dhadagaun. At this meeting Bel Bahadur presented the stove model to and answered the many questions of more than 50 women. Immediately after the presentation 27 stoves were contracted in Dhadagaun. Shortly afterwards the employees of the hospital from the many villages around Sankhu started expressing their interest. To ensure that Bel Bahadur could work effectively, I requested each person wanting a stove to motivate at least ten neighbours to have a stove installed. That's how the idea and the model "clay stove with chimney" spread rapidly around Sankhu.
The households had to help in the work of building the stove. The man of the house was responsible for making the hole in the wall for the chimney. The housewife had the job of providing the building materials like clay, rice husks and cow dung. The chimney stones and covers developed by engineers at ESAP were ordered in one of the many local potteries. They were formed and fired manually.
Since the start of the Chulo Project in 2005 over 70,000 stoves based on our design have been installed in rural households. The needs are however much greater than this modest start. There is no end in view even if we manage, which we constantly strive to do, to dramatically increase production capacity. Nonethless: each installed stove helps a family to a safer, healthier life; and that is certainly worth the investment of 12 Euros.