In 2002, Nancy Sanford Hughes’s life changed forever. During a medical mission to Guatemala, Nancy noticed that the smoky open cooking fires were causing a litany of health problems: babies were dying from smoke inhalation; older children suffered debilitating burns; and people developed hernias from carrying heavy loads of firewood. With the help of Rotary grants, Nancy and her fellow Rotary members spent the next couple of years installing approximately 125 fuel-efficient stoves in homes of indigenous Guatemalans. Estimating the need for six million stoves, Nancy helped found Stove Team International. In 2008, she led the creation of a new stove factory in El Salvador, established with Rotary’s help, by purchasing 1,400 Ecocina stoves—small, portable, affordable and safe stoves manufactured in El Salvador. In the last five years, Nancy’s efforts have inspired Rotary clubs from throughout the United States, Central America and Mexico to help establish six additional factories that now employ more than 45 people and have produced and sold more than 35,000 life-saving stoves.
I Am Driven By | I began working on fuel-efficient cookstoves after meeting a Irma, a young indigenous woman who had fallen into an open cooking fire at the age of two. For 16 years she had prayed for a miracle, and the medical team I was working with had opened her hands. If I get discouraged, I remember Irma and the thousands of women like her who need our help.
A Key Talent | I am able to continue to be positive and active, and have been throughout my life. If you take each task or idea and implement it with the idea of completing just that one task, you will find that you continue to make progress toward your ultimate goals.
Principles I Live By | It is important to remember that no matter what your situation, you have the ability to help others, and by doing so, you improve your own life and sense of well-being.
Dealing With Doubt | I occasionally become discouraged, however I know that with a positive attitude I can continue to make a difference in both my own and others lives.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | I surround myself with inspiring and informed people and stay connected to friends. I read all different types of books, from history to novels and short stories. I adore live theatre and am also an active volunteer.
My Future Dreams And Ambitions | I would love to see the concept that StoveTeam International has developed of starting local factories to produce and sell fuel-efficient stoves spread throughout the world. It will just take increased awareness and increase funding to do so.
The Best Advice I’ve Received | “When you think of all of the stupid people who have had success and know you are smarter than they are, you can certainly do whatever you set out to do.” – Advice from my father, Sandy Sanford.
On Inspiring Others | I’m a cheerleader. I let my volunteers and co-workers know how well they are doing and how much they are appreciated.
The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | “Whatever you are doing that you believe is worthwhile, keep doing it and enjoy the experience.”