[UPDATE Dec. 23, 2013: Here's a new post about where this project is today.]
E.F. Schumacher, in Small is Beautiful argued that foreign aid projects should be scaled to the needs of the receivers. Giant projects are often inappropriate and costly while small projects fit the needs and capacity of the receivers. But a lot of foreign aid is just a way for American companies to get the US government to buy their (sometimes surplus) stuff and send it overseas. Think of all the unfinished and/or unused projects in Iraq that have transferred billions from the US treasury into corporate accounts. Big companies aren't interested in appropriate technology. But in many cases it's what will make a difference. Like the this project I'm going to tell you about.
But they don't just get the kits, they learn about solar energy. They are encouraged to find other ways to apply the technology. If you want to help with this go to Indiegogo and make a contribution.
I challenge you to watch the video chat I had with Alma. Why do I have to say that? Because people are in a hurry and it's easier to skip on to the next link. But Alma's a person well worth meeting. You'll find out how she got into this project. And when you finish the movie, I challenge you (again) to think about what surprised you, and what that means about how your first impressions can fool you - especially when there isn't enough time to get the information needed to correct them.
I should disclose that Alma's in a class that my son-in-law is teaching. That's why I know about this, but it isn't why I'm posting this. It's just good stuff. She's now raising money at Indiegogo - a fundraising site like Kickstarter.
People are always saying that they'd like to help others in need, but they don't know how. Finishing everything on your plate doesn't really help starving kids elsewhere. But putting your movie popcorn money into solar lanterns does.
It won't disturb your lifestyle at all. It will just take a few minutes. You can help the kids with a small donation, a fraction of what you spend a month on your cell phone bill. And the kids in Kenya will be able to do their homework with sustainable solar lights that you'll have helped them get.
Here's the link again to Indiegogo.
And you can even get a kit yourself if you donate at the right level.
The organization Alma mentioned that first got her to Africa is Cultural Reconnections. Norma, are you listening?