I Will Keep Helping Women.

Meet Elizabeth and hear why cooking went from making her sick to making her happy.

When we first met Elizabeth, the warmest, most infectious smile welcomed us. Millions of miles from home, she invited us graciously into hers. She had already begun cooking us a lunch of freshly caught fish from Lake Victoria and vegetables from her garden. Her family helped her prepare the meal on one of the many charcoal-efficient Jiko Smart cookstoves she sells. 

It was over this meal, we got to know Elizabeth and her ambition. Elizabeth was born and grew up in Mwanza, Tanzania. She has six kids, one grandchild. Her family struggled for food and school fees. Thanks to your support, we hired Elizabeth in 2018 to be one of the first classes of stove masons in Tanzania. The process of making an efficient stove is intensive. It takes a day to make the clay used for these stoves. Another day to soften the clay. Elizabeth has partnered with a group of women to share a makeshift factory. She lets her clay soften for two weeks in this factory. Once it’s soft, she’ll use molds to make liners, using leaves to soften the mold and give it its looks. This part of the process takes 30 minutes per stove. She’ll do 50 stoves at once. Even her store has her infectious spirit: she uses the slogan, “Be happy to cook today!”

Cooking over an open fire is one of the world’s least known but largest killers. It’s the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, leading to pneumonia, other respiratory diseases, and even serious burns. Four million people die a year from it. The stoves Elizabeth makes and sells are not only safer because they use 50% less charcoal, but they also save families 20% of their daily expenses. 

Watch the video to learn more about how Elizabeth is saving lives in her community:

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Elizabeth explains it, “The woman is the pillar for the family. I advise them this stove is good. It uses little charcoal and only two pieces of firewood. The performance of the stove is good but it also protects the environment. The old stoves use a lot of firewood. It also polluted the environment. It also produces a lot of smoke. The smoke affects so much in the chest. A lot of people suffer a lot of problems in the chest because of the smoke. For sure when you use this stove the environment is protected. You don’t use a lot of trees. It uses little charcoal and produces little smoke. It is very nice and protects the environment. Even the food no longer smells like smoke.”

Elizabeth is now able to buy vitamins for her family, put food on the table, and send her grandchildren to school. She’s now saving to buy her own office and start a poultry project. And her collaborative spirit keeps giving. She helps teach other women how to make stoves and is part of a collective of women working together in her community. She told us, “I’m feeling so proud of my life. The work has brought me up. I was very down in terms of income. The stove business has uplifted me. Now they greet me as afternoon teacher. People are greeting me with respect because they saw my life has changed. The life that my heart desires, I want to be on the top. Here my body is full of happiness, and I will keep helping other women. And I will keep helping Tanzania.” 

It’s not just Elizabeth’s smile that inspires others; it’s her ambition, too.

Thank you for reading and walking a mile in Elizabeth's shoes.

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