The Red Stove
Updated: Jul 24, 2021
Maria, a middle aged Tzutujil mother of a family of six, suffered from asthma attacks. Awakened at night unable to breathe, she would be rushed in an ambulance to the local Hospitalito in Santiago Atitlan.
Before beoming a participant in Tuik Ruch Lew’s ONIL Stove Project, Maria’s trips to the Hospitalito were frequent, happening once every few months and lasting up to two days. Not only were the hospital visits expensive but the medicines were too! Eventually the chief medical doctor at the Hospitalito connected the fact that she cooked over a traditional, open-fire three stone hearth, continually exposing her to copious quantities of wood smoke.
Today Maria is 12 years removed from any symptoms of asthma and she credits her use of ONIL stove as the reason why. Maria cherishes her ONIL stove – it is still in excellent condition after all these years of continual use as she has maintained it with loving care. Minor repairs of replacing the combustion chamber, as well as buying new tin chimney parts, have cost a pittance compared to the expenses of the medicines and treatments she would have had without the stove. In addition to the health benefits, she happily relates that now her husband brings home every part of any tree he harvests on their property, telling us even the smallest branches and twigs are valuable in an ONIL stove. With a smile, she tells us of another unexpected benefit which she, as a woman, especially appreciates: because there is no smelly smoke in her kitchen, she doesn’t even need to change her clothes if she needs to run out to the market. So what did Maria do to express her love for her stove? She painted it RED…the color of LOVE!