The killer in the home

February 16th, 2015

I am a single mother, I know how difficult it can be to juggle work, run a home and look after your child. I also know what it is like to have a child who is ill. My son has an incurable muscle wasting disease. I know how it feels to desperately want to protect your child, to do anything in your power to make things better. I also know what it’s like to have no choice but just do your best.

In November I met Bishwo, a mother from a town called Gorkha in Nepal whose son was ill too. She was just 18 years old and her son, Tham a baby at 9 months old. Bishwo lives alone with her son, her husband was forced to work away in the army as there were no jobs locally. This was the only way the family could survive. His salary (about £70 a month) had to support them and his parents too.

Prabin (2)Bishwo invited me into her home, which was small, dark and cramped. In the corner was an open fire. She uses the fire for warmth, cooking and light, without it they couldn’t survive. As soon as I entered the house the smoke hit me like a brick wall, my eyes immediately streaming. I could barely catch my breath.

Bishwo told me how ill Tham was, how he suffered from frequent fevers, coughs and had difficulty breathing. He’d had pneumonia 4 times and he wasn’t even a year old yet. The fire was her only option to keep him warm.

We talked about the Practical Action smoke hood, a simple solution that is placed over the fire and removes up to 80% of the smoke from the house through a chimney. She told me how she wished she could afford one so she and Tham could breathe more easily.

Bishwo never let go of Tham the whole time I was with them. He never stopped crying and wheezing and Bishwo never stop coughing.

I felt a real connection with Bishwo, she was a strong woman and just wanted to do her best for her baby. I could relate to her.  I was angry that Bishwo couldn’t protect her son, that she couldn’t afford a smoke hood, that Tham needn’t be this ill. This was preventable.

Indoor air pollution caused by open fires kills 4.3 million people every year. That’s more people than Malaria, HIV and TB combined. This is a health emergency.


A Practical Action smoke hood and chimney costs just £44 and can save lives. We plan to reach as many families like Bishwo’s as we can but we can only do this with your support. To donate and watch our short video please click here

Thank you!


Leave a reply