To the 1.2 billion people in the world without electricity, a million lights could change lives. These people make up 20% of the world’s population, and around 1.5 million of this un-electrified population dies every year from kerosene fires and related respiratory diseases caused by fuel fumes.
If we continue to ignore this problem, the number of people without light in Sub-Saharan Africa alone could rise to 100 million by 2030. Without electricity, community infrastructure is weakened. Students cannot study at night or pursue opportunities requiring advanced education, and health clinics cannot operate after sunset.
Imagine what one million lights could do for the world, just to start. This is the goal of One Million Lights (OML), a 501(C)(3) organization that hopes to electrify rural areas of the world. They rely on passionate “ambassadors” to travel on their own accord and pass out solar lights in the darkest corners of the world. OML Global Ambassadors initiate their own projects to raise funds, which OML agrees to match, for solar light distribution within a community that needs access to clean, renewable energy.
One such example was when Jane Oyugi Collins and Mark Collins traveled from San Francisco to Bugandika, Tanzania to visit the area where Jane’s mother is from. They saw classrooms so dark that students strained to see their work, and saw children so sick they would do anything to have the medical clinic start offering services at nighttime. After experiencing the energy poverty in Bugandika, the Collins couple brought 101 N200 solar light bulbs to the small Tanzanian village.
They worked with the headmaster at the village’s primary and secondary schools to present solar lights on the last day of class to all top students in the hopes of eliminating kerosene from their homes and allowing their studies to continue more successfully into the future.
Additionally, lights were distributed to the Bugandika Dispensary. The dispensary is a small medical clinic that offers health services, medicine, and pre-natal and post-natal care but never before could services be offered after dark. Jane told Nokero:
“The doctors and nurses were very thankful for the solar lights said that they will now be able to provide services in the evening.”
The medical staff and children all said they wished there were more lights to help their whole village. Moving forward, Jane and Mark hope to receive additional funding through their own efforts and through OML. They hope to distribute more lights to Bugandika and other neighboring villages in 2014.