In the late 1980s, HELPS International’s medical teams reported an alarming number of children being treated for burns and numerous respiratory problems. Engineer Don O’Neal, a medical team leader with HELPS, investigated and found that the problem was the traditional method of cooking: an open fire within the home. With no ventilation, causing families to inhale dangerous fumes causing Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI).
Don O’Neal and HELPS developed the award-winning ONIL line of household products including the plancha stove. This stove reduces wood consumption by 70% resulting in a major economic benefit and a better quality of life for families with long-term benefit to the environment. Women gained the equivalent of two days a week in time saved from gathering wood, allowing them time for social and economic activities like cultivating a vegetable garden.
Volunteer teams are sent out to install these stoves and I had the opportunity to document this trip.