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THEY CAN’ T. Air pollution due to unsafe cooking methods kills more than 1 million children each year in developing countries. That’s more than HIV or malaria and second only to water-borne illnesses.

Esperanza with two of her children, El Salvador

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With an improved eco-stove, Esperanza and her children are breathing easier and have begun to experience a better quality of life. Esperanza’s name means hope, which the family now has. Hope not only for them, but for her unborn child, who will be surrounded by more love and happiness than smoke.

Esperanza is 39 years old and has three children. She lives in a poor rural village in El Salvador with the hopeful name of La Bendicion, the Blessing. Like many of her neighbors, Esperanza and her children have developed respiratory infections due to the constant smoke they inhale in their homes. The smoke comes from cooking on an open fire inside the home. Every time Esperanza cooks, she coughs. Her twoyear old son has had bronchitis on and off since he was born and experiences a breathing crisis at least twice a month. Esperanza’s twelve-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with asthma, and she worries about her fourth child, who will be born into these conditions. One day a local church told Esperanza about a stove project that would change the very air her family breathed. This stove would channel smoke through a chimney and enclose the fire, burning the wood more efficiently. Understandably, Esperanza was a little nervous about trying something new. While she understood that cooking smoke makes their conditions worsen, her way of cooking--on an open fire inside her home--is all she’d ever known. Still, Esperanza thought of all those hours that she and her children gathered wood from the mountainside. If a stove would burn the logs longer, she would use less wood and have more time and energy for other tasks. So, when a church member, Juan, helped her family carry the bricks for the stove to their house, Esperanza rallied by rounding up other materials such as molasses, which would help seal the stove’s seams. If her neighbors wanted to help her family, she would do her part!

ESPERANZA’S HOPE: More Love, Less Smoke