As written by our Fellow, Surya who is working closely with our field partner, Mahashakti Foundation in Odisha. By the time I reached the house of Mausami Sahu along with Mr. Manoj, the Branch Manager of Mahashakti Foundation at M. Rampur, she was already waiting for us, along with her 2.5 year old son, another borrower of her group Ms. Joshna Sahu and needless to mention, the improved cook stove she purchased with a loan from Milaap. All 5 of us sat on a tarpaulin sheet laid on the ground.
Mausami Sahu knew very well the reason for my visit. She started the conversation saying she has been using the cook stove for the last 8 months and her cooking has become a lot better with it. Rather, I was curious to know about her family more. So, I asked about her husband and children. In India, the rural areas in particular, it is disrespectful for married women to utter the names of their husbands. Having lived in an urban area, I never came across this custom before meeting Mausami Sahu. As I asked her husband’s name, she gave a wink of smile and called her mother in-law to say her husband’s name. Her husband, Mr. Chudamani Sahu works as a teacher at a primary school. They have 2 children: a 6 year old girl and a 2.5 year old boy. The family also owns a farm land where they grow rice for their own consumption.
As I delved into further details about her experience using the cook stove, she says she spends no more than 2.5 hours in the morning preparing breakfast and lunch, and 2 hours in the evening preparing dinner for the family. Hitherto, while using the old cook stove, she would spend over 7 hours preparing meals for the family every day. Furthermore, there is no need to blow air using a pipe to keep the fire active. She can now breathe easy and her eyes don’t tear anymore as the amount of smoke emanating from the new cook stove is very less.
Upon asking her if there is any specific convenience because of the cook stove, her co-borrower, Ms. Joshna Sahu, pulling the cheeks of Mausami’s son, says “This cute kid gets to spend more time with his mother and to eat lot of food on time ”. And yes, it’s a blessing for her 2.5 year old son as he can stay with his mother while she cooks; otherwise he would spend time alone in the house to keep away from harmful smoke the old cook stove emitted.
Mausami Sahu along with her kids, cook stove and another group member Joshna Sahu