When the sun sets, we celebrate and wait for the light to be just right to capture as much natural beauty as possible.
But, in many parts of the world when the sun goes down it means a new search for light begins.
A search for reliable power to light homes and businesses. To keep streets illuminated and safe to walk down. To heat houses, cook food and allow students to study.
During a trip to Ghana, I saw first hand what life is like without reliable electricity.
The pitch black streets where our vehicles whizzed by people waiting to cross the road who could be barely seen by our headlights.
The one shop that had a single lightbulb hanging over a television and the crowd that had gathered to watch the soccer game.
For me and my family, I know that when I flip the switch the lights will come on. But, this is not true for so many people in the world.
Take a moment and look at what happens when reliable power is not common.
- Poor healthcare: Thirty percent of health facilities in sub-Saharan Africa lack electricity, making it impossible to store vaccines and lifesaving drugs, or operate essential medical equipment like incubators and x-ray machines.
- Stifled economic growth: According to survey data of African businesses, reliable energy access is a bigger concern than corruption, lack of access to capital, or sufficiently trained labor.
- Toxic fumes: Each year, more than three million people worldwide die from exposure to the toxic smoke of indoor open fires and kerosene for cooking, heating and lighting — more than malaria and HIV/AIDS combined.
- Limited or no education: Ninety million children in sub-Saharan Africa attend schools that lack electricity. In many places, women and girls are forced to spend hours during the school day hunting for fuel.
- Lack of safety: Without streetlights, telephones, or other means of communication, women and girls are particularly vulnerable to violence after dark.
How can we ever hope for progress in these countries when they don't have something as basic as safe and reliable electricity?
This is an effort near and dear to my heart and I'm thrilled to see ONE supporting.
Please sign this petition to let our government know it is important to you as well.
Because I believe you should never blindly sign anything and should know the facts, the Electrify Africa Act of 2015 would prioritize and coordinate U.S. government resources in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020 to:
- Promote first-time access to electricity for at least 50 million people, particularly the poor.
- Encourage the installation of at least an additional 20,000 megawatts of electrical power in both rural and urban areas using a broad mix of energy options.
- Encourage in-country reforms to facilitate public-private partnerships and increase transparency in power production, distribution, and pricing.
- Promote efficient institutional platforms that provide electrical service to rural and underserved areas.
We need to make this happen. Energy Poverty is something that no one should suffer from in the world.
The great thing about being part of this is that every day for the month of July someone else is writing an inspiring post and I encourage you to read a few others from my friends Karen, Whit and Heather.
You too can participate by sharing your favorite light inspired images on any social network and tagging them with #ElectrifyAfrica and #LightforLight.
I want to end with this photo of a tree in the afternoon light of the hot Ghana sun. It is a simple photo, but one that I've always loved.
I took this photo outside of a clinic where we ate lunch while out vaccinating and checking on children with a number of aid workers and nurses. This tree was reaching for the light that it had always known.
It gives me hope that we can bring light to all those children I met, so that they can grow up healthy, inspired and with the ability to do whatever their heart chooses.
Help me fight Energy Poverty by signing below.
Chasing light with a camera is fun. Chasing light with your life is not.