One Million Lights Featured by Wendy Smith

*This article by Anna Sidana, founder of One Million lights, is featured on Straight Talk About Giving by Wendy Smith, author of Give a Little: How Your Small Donations Can Transform Our World.

Want to Know You’re Definitely Changing Lives? Give to One Million Lights

2011 May 13

By Guest Blogger, Anna Sidana — Founder and CEO, One Million Lights

I usually wake up at 6:00 am to my favorite music. Before making myself a cup of tea, I catch up on world news and check in on the financial markets. Fast forward to the evening….as soon as I come home, I turn on the lights, check the refrigerator and settle into making dinner. After dinner, the kids and I watch some TV, or listen to some music and do homework. We all read before turning off the lights for the day.

Of course, we live with electricity and don’t have to think about any of these mundane things too much. We enjoy electricity and energy in every aspect of our lives. In fact, our quality of life is unparalleled, and we take it all for granted.

For a moment, close your eyes and imagine life without all that. Imagine a child growing up in a rural village where the families live at subsistence level without any clean source of light. The children wake up at the crack of dawn to study and then walk several miles to get to school. The school day is rigorous and grueling. After school, the children work in the fields to earn money to pay for kerosene that will light their tin lamps in the evening.

Burning kerosene is toxic to respiratory systems and causes injuries from burns in homes where it is used for cooking and light.  It is also a key source of carbon in our environment. One Million Lights is a two- year-old nonprofit with the goal of replacing one million kerosene lamps with clean healthy solar alternatives for lighting. Solar powered light is such a natural choice and so multifaceted. It is clean and healthy, renewable and environmentally friendly. Solar energy is abundant, and every day enough solar energy strikes the US that it could meet our energy needs for a year and a half.

A critical problem that is holding up global development is poverty. Poverty stands in the way of education, health, hygiene, and economic development.

Light helps on all those fronts. At first,  it provides hope, then it changes outcomes. Like the young 10th grader in Rajasthan India who found that her burden was heavy with housework, fieldwork and taking care of her younger siblings. There was pressure to get married. She wrote me a letter. If it had not been for the lights that allowed her to study after chores, she would have had to give up her education, the key to a more independent and prosperous future.

One Million Lights sources solar re-chargeable flashlights from many vendors. These lights are then distributed in over 20 countries around the world through our ambassador and partner programs. The lights are used by children to study at night and by adults to increase their meager income levels. Clean, healthy solar light also reduces the hazards associated with kerosene accidents and smoke while eliminating carbon from our atmosphere.

Here in the U.S., we engage with our own youth in schools and enable them to think solar and clean-tech. We make it possible for them to experience the monumental difference they can make to someone’s life with something that costs as little as a few lattes.

One Million Lights is changing lives one by one, and so can you by donating a solar light today at