Atima’s life was a struggle from the beginning. Her father died before she was born, leaving her mother to raise Atima and her siblings alone. When Atima was a teenager, the Darfur conflict began and the Janjaweed militia attacked the village next door. Atima fled and for two years she was on the run, scared for her life. Finally, she made it to a town in North Darfur where she married and had four children. But her life was still a struggle — a struggle to feel secure in a hut built on land she doesn’t own, a struggle to feed her children without outside assistance. Before receiving her Berkeley-Darfur Stove, Atima spent hours each day cooking over a smoky fire and used half of her family’s meager income to purchase firewood. Atima’s fuel-efficient stove uses less than half the amount of wood than that smoky fire, which saves her money. It also saves her lungs, by reducing her exposure to harmful pollutants.
Consulting the Experts
These three women live in a crowded displacement camp where the simple stoves on which they cook define their days – days filled with treks for firewood that expose them to attacks and sexual assault, with dangerous hunts for work to earn money for fuel, with painful decisions about selling some of the food donors give their families so they can use the cash to buy fuel to cook the rest. This photo was taken at a stove demonstration, where the women gave the stove its Arabic name, Kanun Khamsa Dagaig, or “Five-Minute Stove” because it is seen as such an efficient way of cooking. The Berkeley-Darfur Stove was designed in collaboration with Darfuri women, who helped us ensure that the stove meets their needs: it has been specially adapted to the pot shapes and sizes, the types of food, cooking methods, and the windy conditions and sandy terrain in Darfur. Treating the women as consumers and listening to their preferences helps us ensure they will continue to use their stoves for many years.
Hawa lives in a small thatched house in the town of El Fasher, North Darfur. Hawa supports herself and her seven children by working as a day laborer, doing jobs such as washing clothes. She received a Berkeley-Darfur Stove in July 2010 and has cooked with it every day since. Hawa likes her Berkeley-Darfur Stove because it saves her time and money, and she can use it to cook all of the traditional meals of Darfur. Over the course of a year, Hawa’s stove will save her more than $300 in firewood expenses. Hawa says she uses the money she has saved on firewood to purchase items such as water, soap, oil and grain. Before, when Hawa cooked a porridge called assidah over an open fire, it would take 45 minutes for the meal to be ready. With her Berkeley-Darfur Stove, the same meal is ready in 10 minutes. “Because I can cook my family’s breakfast more quickly, I leave home earlier each morning in search of work, and I have more success finding a job for the day.”