Sierra’s Story – Philippines

An interview with One Million Lights Ambassador Sierra Fan –  a dedicated young philanthropist bringing solar lights to help a village in the Philippines.

Sierra Fan and Megan Zhang, co-presidents of the One Billion Bulbs club at Gunn High School in Palo Alto, CA

How did you get started with this project?

Sierra: Before finding One Million Lights, I was working in promoting the use of energy efficient lighting such as CFL lightbulbs to replace traditional ones with my club One Billion Bulbs.

OML: What made you aware of the issues of lack of light?

Sierra: Wishing to increase the scale of my work, I started researching other countries that may also be open to the promotion of compact florescent lightbulbs.  To my surprise, many areas of the world did not even have electricity for regular lightbulbs, let alone the CFLs.  Therefore, I started looking into organizations that bring light to communities without electricity and quickly found One Million Lights.

OML: Why did you choose One Million Lights?

Sierra: I chose this organization because it was truly making a difference in the world but still encouraging the help of smaller scale high school volunteers like me.  I was inspired by the personal stories on the website about how giving
lights changed people’s lives and gave them a better future.  Joan Dorsey replied very quickly when I first expressed my interest and everything kicked off very smoothly.  At first I was thinking of working in the rural areas of China because of my Chinese background and my connections there.  But last summer I went to Global Young Leaders Conference in Washington DC and New York.  There I met motivated high school students from all over the world, including Mark and Ben.  Mark and I began working together right away with all the logistics in organizing a light distribution: the location, contacts, fundraising, etc.  Ben joined in a few months ago and has been a great help in fundraising from his Rotary organization connections.

Mark, Sierra, and Ben at the Global Young Leaders Conference in Washington DC, 2010

OML: What are you hoping for as the long term impacts of your project?

Sierra: The long term goals of this project is to expand in scale and continue to give lights not just in Dugui Too of the Philippines but other areas as well.  Mark and I have also reached out to other youth in countries such as Namibia, South Africa, India, South Korea, Singapore, and Puerto Rico who have also expressed their interest in helping.  There is also potential light receiving locations in other parts of the Philippines as well as China and other countries.  I am sure that is project will continue to grow and expand.  I will do all I can to remain an integral part and work toward this cause.

Read about the Philippines project and help these students bring lights to their village here.

The One Million Lights team wishes Sierra, Ben and Mark an exciting ambassador trip to the Phillipines!