Local students help send gift of light to the less fortunate
Is it possible for a group of high school students in western Colorado to impact someone living in a country 2,500 miles away?
According to the eight high school students who run local nonprofit Help Light the Night, it’s more than a possibility. It’s happening already.
Help Light the Night raises money to send solar-powered lamps to communities in developing countries around the world. The idea is that in places without electricity, it’s more difficult for children to do schoolwork and for entrepreneurs to start businesses. The only light source available is usually kerosene lamps, which can be expensive to maintain, hazardous to use and unhealthy to be around.
Help Light the Night started as a student club nearly six years ago, and students like Palisade High School senior AnQi Yu are keeping it going because the mission is bigger than one student or one graduating class.
Yu heard about it through classmates and became involved when she learned more about the group.
“I was so enamored with such a simple thing as being able to bring lights to communities. It was such a great and simple idea in order to combat poverty in developing countries,” she said.
Since its inception, Help Light the Night has sent more than 600 solar lamps to Kenya, Bangladesh, India and Ethiopia by working with international aid groups that help ship the lights and train people how to use them.
Central High School senior Wyatt Hurt was drawn to Help Light the Night because of its approach to helping people in need.
“So many groups send money overseas, and all those things really do is show support or create dependence. This fosters independence,” Hurt said.
The lamps have an average lifespan of five years. Within that time, Hurt said, most people are able to harness the benefits of an indoor light source to raise enough money to buy another one.
“It allows people to go to school at night, charge cellphones, and that really opens the door for them,” he said.
Yu, Hurt and their peers are aiming to raise enough money this year to send 250 lamps to the Haiti Partners Children’s Academy and Learning Center, a K-12 school in Haiti.
Help Light the Night is hosting a Concert in the Dark to help meet that goal. Orchestras and other music groups from local high schools and Colorado Mesa University will perform at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Koinonia Church, 730 25 Road.
There will also be a silent auction of items donated by local businesses.