By Audrey Cochran, a member of the Rotary Club of Northwest Austin, Texas, USA
Tonight Amelia Ramirez sits with her younger siblings at their kitchen table. A stack of books sit on the table and Amelia smiles as she reads. She no longer fears being burned by a kerosene lamp. The fumes that had irritated her eyes and made her cough are gone. She no longer begs her mother to stop before her school work is done because of the heat, the bugs, and the fumes caused by the kerosene lamp she was previously forced to use. Amelia’s family received a solar lamp from Rotary District 5870.
Nearly one quarter of the world population lives without access to electricity or safe light. As a result millions suffer from burn injuries each year, most of which are children. These families see by kerosene lamps, candles and open flames, all of which are dangerous and toxic.
According to the World Health Organization respiratory illness is the number one cause of death in children under 5 years of age that live in areas without access to electricity. Rotarians are taking action to change this. Working with the Grid Earth Project, a Texas based 501(c)3 Charity, founded by Rotarians from the Northwest Austin Rotary Club, safe solar light is being provided to families forced to live off the electrical grid. It’s a worldwide problem requiring a worldwide solution.
The Northwest Austin Rotary Club has just completed District 5870’s 2016-17 World Community Service Project. Over six hundred families in remote villages of the Toledo District of Belize received household solar lamps. The impact is immediate and the change results in 100 years of progress in a single day. The solar lamps were hand delivered to each of the eleven villages, whether by four-wheel drive trucks, by boats, hiking or pack horses. Every lamp was placed directly into the hands of these families in need. Seventeen clubs from District 5870 participated in this year’s project.
The club is now kicking off our 2017-18 World Community Service Project. The goal this year is to provide safe solar light to 1,000 families in the Toledo District that are still living in darkness. For as little as $100 your club can become a partner in this district wide project. Together we can change the world one light at a time.