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EUGENE, Ore. - Nancy Hughes of Eugene was honored Friday at the White House as part of the Rotary International Champions of Change, one of 12 Rotarians nationwide honored this year.
Hughes created a StoveTeam International, an organization that builds and sells simple, efficient wood-fired cooking stoves in Central America. The stoves cut pollution and wood consumption. Over 35,000 have been sold to date.
Hughes lost her husband in 2001. She went on a medical mission trip to Guatemala, where she encountered woman and children exposed to smoke from cooking over open fires and bad stoves. Between chronic coughs, respiratory infections and burns, Hughes found inefficient cook stoves to be more deadly in the developing world than malaria.
She formed StoveTeam Internation, which set up 6 factories in Mexico and other Central American countries. Hughes explains, "I'm 70, I don't want to set up a bunch of factories and own them. So the best thing to do was to help people in the developing world develop sustainable factories that they owned." Hughes says she never got to meet President Obama Friday but did meet with other high ranking White House officials and felt honored to be with the other Rotary Club members recognized for their efforts.