Anna’s Story

Anna Sidana, Founder and CEO of One Million Lights, with a friend in Kenya who uses a kerosene lamp to light her home.

When the sun sets every day, millions of homes around the world go into darkness. With all the advances in technology, we should be able to offer a clean and eco-friendly solution to these families.

My story is inspired by a school in rural Rajasthan, India, that was founded by my father approximately 50 years ago as an elementary school with five children. Today, the school provides education through high school and it is recognized as a school of excellence in many subjects. In 2003, I visited this school and returned to the US, touched by the children I had met and wanting to keep a connection with them. Coincidentally, I met a group of students at Stanford who were developing a solar lantern and I ended up becoming a mentor to that team. The goal was to develop a solar powered light that could replace kerosene lamps. After learning more about the ills of kerosene and the benefits of solar, I realized that light was one of the most basic of all needs. It is an enabler for life itself and access to clean light can change someone’s life for the better. However, lighting was still missing for most of the families in that village in Rajasthan. A farming community; every member of the family worked as a farm hand during the day, leaving no time for the children to study.

I continued to tell the story of this school and 5 years later, I was fortunate in acquiring a donation of 15,000 solar lights from a socially conscious leading technology company in Silicon Valley. In August of 2008, I personally distributed the first batch of 250 solar lights to the children of this school and set myself a goal of distributing One Million solar Lights around the world.