One Million Lights bringing rural communities out of the dark
Today is the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. To Mark the occasion, we caught up with one of UNESCO’s recent Asia Pacific Youth Dialogue Forum participants and Founder of One Million Lights Mark Lozano, for a #YouthOfUNESCO interview about his initiative to provide communities in rural areas of the Philippines with safe, affordable lighting.
“I co-founded One Million Lights with a few of my friends when I was just 16. We wanted to develop a social initiative that would make a tangible difference to the lives of people in my country and help communities lift themselves out of poverty.
Access to safe lighting is a huge enabling factor to so many communities that are not connected to the electricity grid. It enables children to do their homework at night, which leads to improved class performance; it enables individuals to work beyond daylight hours without fear of fire-related accidents; and safe lighting also protects families from the risks caused by kerosene lamps, such as respiratory illness and burns.
We decided to distribute solar-powered lights because they are safe, reliable (they do not require batteries to be charged) and they even help to reduce carbon emissions too!
So far, our organization has reached over 12,500 families across the Philippines and we’ve found that access to solar powered light has had a positive impact beyond the provision of light itself: Families that participate in the initiative have been able to save anywhere between 10-30% of their weekly income thanks to not having to purchase kerosene. This means that the initiative has had a knock-on effect on nutrition too because the money saved on lighting is often spent on healthier and more nutritious foods.
One Million Lights is now looking to reach even more families and to improve our impact in rural areas by developing solutions to other issues facing these communities, including disaster preparedness for example. We can’t wait to continue making a tangible difference to peoples’ lives.”
UNESCO goes beyond giving youth a voice so they can be heard. It empowers them as full players in the development process, and equips them with tools and skills so they can drive social change, innovate and lay the foundation for a sustainable future.
- International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2016
- More on UNESCO’s work with youth
- To find out more about other young people that are changing the world, visit www.facebook.com/UNESCOyouth
- More on the Asia Pacific Youth Dialogue (Chengdu, China, 20-23 September 2016)
- Contact: youthcontent(at)unesco.org
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