Irma - how it all started

First there was Irma.

This is how Nancy tells it:

I was working as a volunteer in Central America in the kitchen of Cascade Medical Team when 18-year old Irma asked if we could delay dinner so she could thank us. Speaking Kechiquel through double interpreters, she explained she had fallen into an open cooking fire in her family’s home at the age of two. Her hands were burned so badly she couldn’t open them.

For 16 years she had prayed for a miracle. Our volunteer surgeon restored the use of her hands. We were her miracle.

To prevent this kind of tragedy, here’s what we did.

I decided we needed to prevent burns rather than treat them, so on my return to Eugene I approached my Rotary club and said, “Someone should write a grant for safe, fuel-efficient stoves.”

Our director of World Community Service looked me directly in the eye and said, “Yes, someone should!”

That was the very beginning. I wrote a small grant, the first I had ever written. The next December, with the help of three volunteer stove designers and funding from two foundations, we developed the Ecocina stove to prevent such tragedies. The Ecocina is environmentally friendly, economical, cool to the touch, reduces the amount of wood by up to half and reduces carbon emissions and particulate matter by 70%. It emits almost no smoke, requires no chimney, is portable and is produced locally. We feel it is its own miracle.