Project #4910

Ensure Comfort for Grandmothers

by Chikumbuso

It's the hot season in Zambia, which means even hotter rooms for those grandmothers still without fuel efficient stoves. Unlike the traditional stoves, fuel efficient stoves require less wood and use the wood they do consume efficiently enough to make sure the fire is used for cooking and not heating up already hot rooms. In addition, they produce less smoke and other toxic byproducts, making them much safer for the user and their family. 

While you may think winter is the ideal time to buy stoves for our grandmothers, we actually need them more in the Zambian summer, when temperatures are above 90 degrees Farenheit and these women are sweltering over hot fires to cook meals for their grandchildren. 

We are so excited to have been able to provide so many stoves to our grandmothers, and hope to be able to finalize this project this year. Please partner with us to get those last stoves in their houses!

As the holiday season is upon us, we at Chikumbuso are preparing to celebrate with family and friends, as well as the entire Chikumbuso community - whether here in Zambia or across the sea in the U.S.. We are so grateful for all the folks who make up our circle of love and count our blessings that each of you is in our lives. 

During this busy cooking season, our thoughts are with the grandmothers of our project, who continue to cook on open flame in smoky rooms. Fuel efficient stoves are not only safer for them and their grandchildren, they also reduce smoke inhalation, asthma, and other respiratory diseases. In addition, they are much cheaper for the grandmothers to maintain, as they only need small amounts of wood. We hope, in time, to provide each and every one of them with the means to cook healthy (in more ways than one) meals for their grandchildren. 

Please consider supporting this project during this time - a time when being reminded of love, community, and meals with family is so important. Blessings to each of you.


The following is an e-postcard from Kai Iizuka, a GlobalGiving Representative in Zambia.

When I was told I was going to be meeting with a grandmother that Chikumbuso takes care of and had recently bought a new rocket stove for, I was expecting to meet a frail old lady spending her days within her house. Instead, I was presented with a hale, energetic, talkative woman who from the way she moved, you wouldn’t have thought she were a day over thirty. Esnart was her name, and I was able to hear her life story through Ms. Beauty, her Chikumbuso caretaker, who kindly acted as an interpreter.

Esnart was living alone due to the fact that she had lost her husband and outlived seven of her eight children, who had left her many grandchildren. However, she did not seem lonely at all, with her neighbors and others in the community constantly interacting with her and Beauty passing through to see how she was doing every morning. Though she used to make a living through piece work in order to feed her family, thanks to the monthly supplies she gets from Chikumbuso, a lot of that burden has been lifted and I was told that she now works as a successful marriage counselor with many clients.

The newly acquired rocket stove, she explained, was a lot more efficient than what she used to have as it is significantly easier to use, consumed less coal, and allowed for nshima to be cooked within thirty minutes. This is a great improvement over the coal brier that she used to use to cook with, which was slow and required a lot of expensive coal to use. While I was there, with help from two boys that had tagged along from Chikumbuso, she was able to quickly fix herself a meal using only two pieces of charcoal and a few sticks.

Fuel Efficient Stoves are the best way to go for our grandmothers in Lusaka, Zambia. If you can picture what buying a stove does for these elderly women you would not want to miss out on the opportunity. This winter in particular the grandmothers of Chikumbuso have reaped the benefit of having a fuel efficient stove. The winter season brings with it a chill to the bones of many people living in the slum where the cement walls guard the cold and the wind whips through the leaks in the ceiling. But for our grandmothers and their grandchildren the cold is no longer feared because these stoves work indoors as well as outside. Not only do these stoves cook meals using a few little twigs instead of buckets of charcoal but they also heat water and then stay warm enough to keep the house heated through the cooler evenings. Each and every one of our grandmothers who has a stove considers herself blessed to be a part of Chikumbuso where our supporters care to make a difference in the individual's life.

We are half way to our fundraising goal and we are thankful to those who have supported us to date.

Please help us to make our goal and give each and every grandmother a stove.

Can We Do It?  Joyce thinks so!



Early in the morning of International Women’s Day, I was sleeping, I just wanted to sleep in.  But then someone began knocking on my door, and I got up to answer it.  I found there was this old, old lady.  She was carrying this big sack on her back like a baby.  I said, “Ah, Sylvia, what are you doing?”

“I’m coming from Mandevu.”

“What were you doing there?  Visiting your relatives?”  It was so early in the morning, I imagined that she must have left there very early to get to Ng’ombe at this time of the morning.

“No, no.  I left early from my house this morning.  I went to buy some groundnuts because I know that I am owing Chikumbuso some money.  Now that my son’s funeral is over, I want to start selling so I can start paying again on my loan.”  Sylvia, like many older Zambians, believes that if she is owing a debt on earth, she won’t be free to die.  At 104, with all she has seen, you can imagine how this grips her.

“So,” I asked her, “how much do you have?  Have you started selling by this time?”

“Yes!  That is why I’ve come!”

I had her scoop out the groundnuts, bit by bit; she looked up at me in the eyes, “Is that enough?”  “No, keep counting.”  She counted until they were all out.  The total price was 10.50 kwacha, with a profit of 1.5 (about $2.10 in total, profit about 30 cents).  She was very pleased and grateful for the money and turned to go.

“No, no, Sylvia, you must stay and have breakfast with me.  It’s International Women’s Day.”  During breakfast we talked about her plans to earn some money for her loan and I shared the story with my children who would easily look down on working so early and so hard for such a meager profit.

After breakfast, she turned to go.  “No, no, Sylvia, you must stay – I will get your clothes washed and pour you a nice bath.”

After we had washed the clothes and ironed them and she finished her bath, she turned to go.  “No, no, Sylvia, the day isn’t over yet.  You must stay for tea.”

By the time Sylvia went home she was very happy – she’d eaten three meals, sold all her groundnuts and her clothes were nicely ironed, folded and back on her back in the big sack wrapped with chitenge – these are clothes that she will sell to pay back her loan and now that they are clean and ironed, they will be much more likely to sell.

She was happy, but I found I was even more happy.  Sylvia is a very old woman and her last child was just buried and yet, she was up very early in the morning, out and about, trying to make just a little profit to get herself going again.  And not only that, all the time she was here, she was smiling, laughing, even giving us a small dance – I thought, “Would I have that courage going through all these problems?  I kept thinking of her – what if she were my own umbuya (grandmother) and I wondered at her courage when she’s all alone.”

This grandmother represents all of the grandmothers we have and the struggles they go through on a daily basis. Consider blessing a grandmother with a stove, it will make a world of difference in her life.


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Organization Information


Location: Lusaka - Zambia
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Linda Wilkinson
Ng'ombe, Lusaka Zambia

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