Everyday One Million Lights receives requests for lights. Our usual response is, sure but do you have the capacity to fundraise for the lights? OML matches raised funds by 15% for the cost of lights and shipping. It is partnership that make distributions happen. Sometime we get requests from NGO’s who do not have the capacity to fundraise, but have the ability to be patient and at least share the efforts in social media. If the NGO is a registered organzation, and One Million Lights has an interest or contacts in the area, we usually agree to make it work. These projects tend to take a long time, because we are not actively fundraising for it, but we do promote them from time to time.
In 2014 we did several of these projects. The first was for Uganda Rural Elderly Support. They are an NGO that helps elders in their community. We were approached by them for lights because many of their elders have suffered from burns because of kerosene lamps. We posted their project on our page early in 2014 and its sat there for a long time. In the Fall as the holiday rush started coming in we were approached by a church in Illinois, who wanted to support OML in some way during the holidays. I told them about the Uganda group and they chose to support them for their holiday drive. As a result we were able to order 125 nokero N200 lamps for them. Conveniently for us one of the Nokero global account managers was travelling to Uganda just as we were figuring out what lights and how to get them to these folks. The global manger from Nokero actually hand brought the lights from the US to Uganda and delivered them in person to the director of Uganda Rural Eldery Support.
The other project we did like this in 2014 was with an organization called the Sango Association. Sango Association is based in Chicago and brings supplies to students in Kenya every year. They approached us about getting lights for these students. They had very little capacity for fundraising, but were not time bound. In November we received a significant donation for this project from a unique, new donor. I reached out to the donor and asked why they chose to support this specific project and was emailed back that she found the Sango project because she googled lights for Kenya. She wanted to spend her yearly holiday donation on a project in Kenya and just happened to find us. With her donation we were able to get 75 solar lanterns to these students.
It is the last mile that is the hardest, finding funds and ordering the lights is the easy part. It takes a lot of trust and logistics to find people on the ground to help get the lights to those who most need it. If you are interested in being one of these partners, please reach out to us.