Bilashini Bag with her low-smoke cook-stove
When I reached Bilashini Bag’s house at around 10 in the morning, she was sitting in the front room of her small house. I mistook her to be free but she was actually cooking food and yes, using the old cook-stove instead of the low-smoke cook-stove she bought almost a year ago with the help of a loan from Milaap. A wire of the battery of her low-smoke cook-stove had snapped, and she had given it to Mahashakti Foundation for repair just 2 days ago. She had no option but to revert back to her past ordeal of cooking using the old cook-stove. “It is so suffocating inside”, she says, “I try to remain outside the kitchen to the extent possible.”
The low-smoke cook-stove takes only 4 firewood sticks per day, as against 8 sticks that were needed when using the old cook-stove. This translates into a saving of Rs.200 every month. Her husband, who does painting work, is the only breadwinner and earns about Rs.250 per day when there is work available. So, the Rs.200 saved is of significant value for Bilashini’s family. Her son took his matriculation exams recently. Using the new cook-stove, it takes no more than 1.5 hours to cook a meal, be it for lunch or for dinner. The family mostly has ‘suji’, a type of semolina, for breakfast and it takes just 15 minutes to prepare on the new cook-stove. The 4 hours saved everyday with the help of the new cook-stove allow her to take good care of her health; she suffers from hypertension. With those 2 days, which she spent with the old cook-stove, seeming like an eternity, she eagerly waits to receive the repaired battery of her new cook-stove.