My first glimpse into another world — StoveTeam International

Two weeks ago, when I began my role as Communication and Operations Manager here at StoveTeam I was excited to finally fulfill my dream of my bringing my business and volunteer coordination experience into the nonprofit world. I had a good idea of StoveTeam’s mission and its work to date, but I had no idea of the power of the organization’s impact.

A real understanding of the positive change StoveTeam has brought about can only come from firsthand experience, seeing the problems and solutions the organization has been working with. Digging through Dropbox folders I found thousands of photos of individuals like the woman in the photo above, and dozens of compelling and inspiring stories from the field (10 of which you can find at this link), and I began to understand and connect with StoveTeam’s work and the importance of the mission of elevating families and communities through the fundamental gift of a safe and efficient cookstove.

As I take on this position at StoveTeam, I will work to make these stories come to life for those of us with the privilege to only read about a life where the kitchen is a dangerous place. In October I will be joining one of our volunteer trips for the first time and I can’t wait to see the communities we are impacting firsthand. I look forward to bringing back stories of families and communities who have benefited directly from the support of StoveTeam’s donors, members, and volunteers. Our October trip is already full but our upcoming trip to Guatemala in January, 2020 still has space available! Signing up is easy, just follow this link.

For now, I’ll leave you with a story that was recently passed along to me, the story of a woman in Guatemala named Asunción.

Like so many women in the developing world, Asunción and her mother-in-law spend all day tending the fire inside their home. Asunción’s husband became concerned with the dangers of open fire cooking after seeing his mother suffer the effects of indoor air pollution.

“My mom used to cook this way… she said the smoke ruined her vision. With the open fire, [the women] are trapped with smoke”, he said.

It wasn’t long until Asunción also started having problems with her vision and breathing. Their open fire used a lot of fuel, and carrying firewood on a daily basis was difficult. One of Asunción’s biggest frustrations with her open fire was how often the fire would go out when there was a draft in their home. She feared that every time she would restart the fire, she would expose herself and her three children to the possibility of debilitating burns, a common occurrence in homes like theirs.

For Asunción’s family, and others living in poverty throughout the world, an open fire is a cruel reality. Her husband recognized that despite the difficulty that their open fire presented them, they did not have any other readily available options.

“With the open fire is how we have to live, if not, we cannot survive”, he said.

But now, thanks to the generosity of StoveTeam’s donors and volunteers, Asunción’s family was able to receive the fuel-efficient cookstove they desperately needed. Their new stove emits significantly less smoke, giving their tired eyes a relief. Furthermore, their fuel-efficient stove means less trips to carry heavy firewood and freedom from the frustration of a fire that will not stay lit.

I’m looking forward to bringing back many more stories from the field this fall. In the meantime, connect with us via the social media links at the bottom of this page or send us an email anytime at

Originally published at on August 22, 2019.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Aaron Li

Aaron Li

Operations Intern at StoveTeam. All stories written by Forest Resener, Communications and Operations Director.