By: Michael Milbank – Treasurer
Sampurni is a mother of two and lives in the village of Katur, with her husband Mr. Puji. Their meager abode doubles up as a rudimentary shop and the production area for the family’s cassava chip making business. This is their sole source of income: three years ago they sold their land to a neighbor to help pay expenses. Now, every day is a struggle to make ends meet:-the average income from their business is just 35,000 IDR per day.
It was not always like this. Three years ago, the business was thriving and in a position to expand. However, when their daughter was born with a severe neurological condition (possibly cerebral palsy), everything changed. Instead of investing money to grow the business, the family had to spend considerable sums on their daughter’s healthcare and ended up selling their rice field to help pay the expenses. Basic treatment is all that they can afford and it still costs them 300,000 IDR per month. They will be paying this every month, every year, for the duration of her natural life. While their son is too young to go to school right now, the cost of his education is also a concern-they have some money in savings from the land sale, but it still might not be enough.
Asraa and I are sitting across the table from Ibu Sampurni, interviewing her about the Kompor biomass stove that she purchased a month and a half ago. Her daughter lies sprawled out in her arms, almost lifeless. Her eyes do not register or track any movement and when you gaze into them, you are struck by the futility of it all. Even with access to proper healthcare, it is likely that she will remain this way for the rest of her life. An unfurled sack lies on the cold, compacted dirt floor of the house less than ten meters away from the table. This is their bed for the night: they have a proper one in a bedroom, but the daughter cannot sleep in it. Instead, Sampurni and her daughter spend each night sleeping on the floor with the chickens, rats and goodness knows what else.
We shift back to the questions on our survey. Sampurni has purchased two Kompor biomass cookstoves for business and personal use, and we are here to assess how effective they have been. Despite a few comments about the price being too high, feedback is generally positive. Cooking cassava chips requires a lot of fuel. The Sampurni household currently spends 300,000 IDR on wood each month to cover business and family expenses. They are currently using the Kompor stoves to cook the raw material and a traditional stove to fry them in bulk. Surprisingly, this actually saves the family fuel. Beforehand, the wood would only last for three weeks before the family had to order another truckload. The Kompor stoves consequently enable the family to increase their fuel supply by one week and enjoy a cost saving, of sorts. It might not seem much in the grand scheme of things, but given the family’s hardships, any saving at all is a blessing.