Calmar club lighting up the lives and homes of the Philippines
By Mark Wierzbicki
Members of Calmar’s Interact club are planning an illuminating trip to the Philippines later this year.
Ben Turner, a grade 12 Calmar Secondary School student and member of the Rotary Club-affiliated Interact Club will be leading a group of four to the archipelago nation, where they will be part of a worldwide campaign bringing cheap, safe indoor lighting to the developing world.
Turner is going on behalf of the Million Lights Campaign, which according to its website is organized with the purpose of, “improving the daily lives of children and adults by providing clean and healthy lighting.”
“We believe people should have a right to safe, cheap lighting in their homes,” said Turner. “In most of the developing world people have to use kerosene lamps for use in the evenings. These lamps are expensive to keep filled with gas, and they can cause serious health hazards.”
Turner said that the lamps, which children must often study by each night, can cause lung damage equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. The campaign seeks to remedy this situation by providing portable solar lamps to families in need.
“The solar lamps are a great way to solve a whole variety of problems,” he said.
“They are safe, because there’s no emissions and there’s no danger of fire, and they can be put outside during the day and recharged.
That can save a family a large part of their income that would otherwise have gone towards kerosene.”
The Interact Club, a youth offshoot from the Nisku/Leduc Rotary Club, is donating $500 dollars to the cause, plus matching funds from Rotary Club, which will also be sending an adult chaperone to escort Turner and two other Interact members through the south Asian nation. The Philippines will be the latest of 18 nations to benefit from the Million Lights campaign.
The group will be in the Philippines from April 7-13. Much of that time will be spent in the village of Catanduanes, to which the campaign is hoping to send a total of 200 lights, at a total cost of $5000.
They also plan on soaking up some of the local culture, spending time in the capital city of Manila, and even swimming with whale sharks off the beaches of Donsol.
Turner appreciates the hands on nature of the campaign.
“They are pretty unique among NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organizations) in that when you donate they want you to stay involved with the campaign,” he said.
As per the name, the ultimate goal is to distribute one million lights to rural communities around the world. It is a subset of the World of Color charity, which sets a wider goal of, “addressing global problems such as the need for healthy and clean lighting, water, and others…” and to “strive to use innovative and eco-friendly technologies to enable developing and rural communities to ease the struggle of daily life.”
Those wishing to donate to the campaign can do so at www.onemillionlights.org, and those wishing to donate to the Interact Club are invited to call Hayden Mills at 780-985-3515 at Calmar Secondary School to buy tickets to the club’s annual banquet on April 29.