HELPS International

With only one doctor for every thousand residents and severely limited medical care in rural areas, persistent health crises threaten Guatemala’s social and economic progress. Maternal and infant mortality, malnutrition, communicable diseases, parasites and diabetes are high, especially in indigenous communities.

That’s why HELPS volunteers are working to fill the gaps in health care in underserved, rural areas of Guatemala.

With a network of U.S.-based volunteer medical teams, HELPS International provides preventive care, surgery and community education to those who need it most. Every year, eight to ten medical teams spend a week working in remote areas of Guatemala to serve people who often have no other way to access quality health care. Each team is made up of several dozen volunteer physicians, nurses and support staff.

The ONIL Cook Stove


Many Guatemalans face health risks every day, in their own homes and schools. The open fires traditionally used for cooking inside homes lead to devastating  respiratory problems and severe burns. At especially high risk are children under age 5, for whom acute respiratory infection is the leading cause of death. Meanwhile, with sixty percent of disease in Guatemala waterborne, millions lack access to clean drinking water.

HELPS International work across Guatemala to improve infrastructure with a line of high-quality, cost-effective products designed and tested to meet the needs of rural families. The ONIL cook stove is a safe alternative to open fires, removing smoke from the home and reducing firewood usage by 70%. The ONIL water filter achieves 100% removal of parasites and 99.99% removal of pathogenic bacteria.

Dozens of volunteer teams install thousands of fuel-efficient ONIL stoves and water filters in homes and schools each year.  Families who receive a stove and water filter set contribute a portion of its cost and work alongside the volunteer team to install it.