Box-Aid is a registered UK charity with the primary aim of helping poor peoples in under-developed countries sustain themselves despite local deforestation and the shortage of traditional cooking fuels. Box-Aid makes, demonstrates, and cooks with solar cookers and "Wonderboxes".
Box-Aid was founded by Anna Pearce. Anna, now a grandmother, spent half of her life in South Africa. She was actively anti-apartheid working through her charity, Compassion, for both the physical and spiritual improvement of the lives of the blacks. She is well known in South Africa for her inventions, the Wonderbox and the Wonder Oven, as well as for her testimony on the situation of the blacks to the South African Supreme Court.
The story of Compassion and the Wonderbox can be found in Anna's book, Simply Living (ISBNs 1-85421-048-3 HB, 1-85421-062-9 PBK; available from Box-Aid at www.Anahat.co.uk).
In 1994, as reported in the Solar Box Journal #17, Anna received a Winston Churchill Travel Scholarship to support her work with the Wonderbox. It was during the trip, while in Vietnam, that Anna invented a very low cost individual solar cooker named the "Anahat".
The Wonderbox, named after "Wonder Beans", a name that had been used for soya beans, is essentially a haybox design that drastically reduces the need for fuel for cooking. In widespread use in South Africa, it is a cheap low-tech device which, while reducing local deforestation, can easily be made from local waste materials.
The Wonderbox provides insulation that is just right for slow cooking that continues without using fuel. When a pot of food which has been brought to the boil is surrounded by the specially shaped thermal cushions, the food will actually continue to cook in its own heat for two or more hours without it drying out or burning.
The Anahat is a very low cost individual solar cooker, invented during a trip by Anna to Vietnam. It was named by the locals because the prototype consisted of an oriental cone shaped hat lined with aluminium foil. This, of course, allows poor people in hot climates to cook even if the area is already deforested, or if local cooking fuels are in short supply or too expensive.
I formally tested the Anahat at the Sunseed Desert Technology Research Centre in June, 1996. In scientific tests it held up well in comparison for Sunseed's other solar cookers. In culinary experiments it proved to be especially good at cooking bread.