(Editor’s note: A different version of this article on solar power was originally published on TessDrive.com. Reposted with permission.)
Solar power can bring a brighter future, indeed. In the Philippines, close to 2.4 million households still do not have access to electricity. This is based on data as of December 2017. Advocacy group Brighter Communities, however, is helping address this problem by donating portable solar kits to off-the-grid communities.
“They had no electricity and very limited access to a lot of things most of us take for granted,” Brighter Communities Founder Luis Baring said, recounting his visit to a poor community five years ago. “I felt that there were a lot of opportunities that the children were missing out on and that we are missing out on the biggest opportunity to help these children become future innovators and leaders.”
Spreading kindness through technology
“Technology and kindness will make the world a better place. I have been supporting tech community events like meetups and conferences, and I can see a lot of potential in tapping that to reach out to children in marginalized communities,” he said.
Baring hit upon the idea of providing a home solar kit, which includes a solar panel, battery, and LED bulbs. His goal is to donate a portable solar kit to each family in these off-the-grid communities. And so Brighter Communities was born.
At the moment, Brighter Communities is focused on giving all the families in Barangay Laiban, Tanay, Rizal a portable solar kit.
“There are a lot of bright and talented students in Laiban, for example, that have not touched an actual computer in their life. Teachers use keyboards and computer screens drawn on cardboards to teach them how to use it. That does not really do much for the students,” Baring said.
By donating portable solar kits that will provide electricity to their homes, Brighter Communities hopes to give these children a better future.
“I always believe that a little inspiration and kindness can go a long way in changing someone’s life. Giving the children light to study better at night can be that inspiration,” Baring said.
Clean energy is the future
Baring is quite bullish about the future of solar power and clean energy in general in the Philippines.
“The technology for solar power is there. It’s developed, sustainable, and, most especially, it’s cheap. I have tested and am currently using this one product that I bought online. On our first campaign, I asked friends to help the project by buying them online and shipping them to my office address. It was a great feeling to see deliveries week after week. In two months, we had 30,” Baring said.
“I believe clean and sustainable energy is the future. It also serves as an inspiring piece of technology for the children. In our next visit to the host community, we plan on teaching the kids the basics of solar and how to build something using it,” he added.
#SpreadKindness social media campaign
Brighter Communities has launched the #SpreadKindness social media campaign to raise funds by selling T-shirts with the hashtag. In fact, these #SpreadKindness T-shirts were what drew me to the advocacy group’s booth at VegFest Pilipinas 2019. I bought a shirt to support their cause.
“Social media has been one of my biggest tools in spreading the word and in inviting people to support the project. Brighter Communities is the project and advocacy. #SpreadKindness is the way to keep the advocacy going. It will serve as the backbone that will fund the project through our efforts and creativity, and not entirely on the donations of others,” Baring shared.
He said that as of this writing, over 200 households in Barangay Laiban and around the area still do not have access to electricity. During their last visit, Brighter Communities was also able to provide a portable solar kit for the local habal-habal association to use for their small terminal.
Recently, Brighter Communities also treated the students of Laiban Elementary School to a special day of wonder and inspiration at The Mind Museum in Bonifacio Global City as another act of kindness.
Would you also like to help bring the gift of light to off-the-grid communities? Sign up for the Brighter Communities newsletter and help spread kindness today.