Sheila Chepkorir is four years old.
She smiles a lot and likes to play with the animals in her compound – a small dog and several skinny kittens whom she shares her potatoes and beans with. She used to spend lot of time sitting indoors, on the floor, in the same small house where her mother makes tea in the morning and beans and rice in the evenings.
She is different from her siblings – she doesn’t speak and sometimes seems to be in a world of her own, but is always happy and curious about her surroundings. Not many people in the village know her because in these parts of Kenya having a child like Sheila is considered back luck.
Sheila used to be sick very often – coughs, colds, runny eyes. It was only after her family met the Salama Stove team that they realized it must have been the smoke coming from the household’s small fire that was affecting her so badly.
The Salama Stove team first met Sheila and her family in Nakuru hospital, where she had been admitted after suffering bad burns all over one of her legs. She had been left alone in the house, and trying to help, she poured a hot tea over her body.
Although her injuries are healing, Sheila still cannot completely move her leg. But now, when she sits indoors, she doesn’t have to inhale the smoke like she used to, and sometimes even helps her mum Loise to stoke the fire in the stove.
“I didn’t know that smoke was so bad for me and my family. But when I met the doctors at Nakuru hospital and the people from Salama Stove, they explained to me all the things I can do to make my family healthier. We all noticed a difference in our breathing” says Loise.
Loise also spends a lot less time cooking, and uses that time to help Sheila regain movement in her leg, taking her out and helping her to walk.
“The stove has changed our lives. We are healthier and we also save money on fuel. I wish we had always had one, and I hope my neighbors can benefit from such a stove too”