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Helping Hands: Watts of Love

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Watts of Love founder Nancy Economou began her epic journey to design and deliver 1,000 solar lights to one of the poorest islands in the Philippines after a business trip with her husband, John. There, she met a young girl severely scarred by kerosene lamp burns, which compelled her to develop a sustainable lighting source to bring to those living without basic access to electricity.

When Nancy and her WOL team arrived on Ilin Island in February 2013 for its pioneer solar light pilot project, the team met scores of villagers suffering in extreme poverty and ill health who were forced to sit unproductively at night. For many, living in a world of darkness means relying on toxic and costly fuels such as kerosene for lighting, which is also deadly. In addition to lung disease, it is responsible for causing horrific disfigurements that few can afford to treat with medical attention. WOL’s intention was to enable families to save the money otherwise spent on toxic fuel and also to provide the opportunity to increase productivity and income well into the night.

Literally overnight, the team learned that the first solar light recipients had used their new tools to achieve an unimagined level of success. One mother of seven children proudly reported more than doubling her daily income in just 24 hours by using her lantern and whittling 1,000 additional bamboo skewers after dusk. She sold them at market the next day, thereby providing more food for her family. Students, seamstresses, midwives and fishermen created the same kinds of successes.

Aside from providing up to 130 continuous hours of reliable light, WOL lanterns feature charging capabilities via an innovative USB port that charges cell phones and other small electronic devices. Cell phone service providers distribute free basic phones, knowing even the poor will buy service in order to stay connected with family. However, for many there is no way to charge cell phones other than walking great distances to remote charging stations.

The Watts of Love philosophy is that no one should be left in darkness after sunset. Enabling sustainable change through renewable energy is the fastest way out of poverty in remote places in the world. In only four years, WOL has distributed lights to Mozambique, Haiti, Nepal, Ghana, Kenya and the Philippines, with plans to revisit almost all of those countries in 2016.

Donating $50 provides a family with a life-changing light. But, if now isn’t your time to give, donate your social equity! Follow Watts of Love on your social media channels and share their story. To donate or for more information, go to HLM    Written by: Meredith Mackin Riley