SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR, INNOVATOR, ACTIVIST FIGHTING ENERGY POVERTY, AND FOUNDER OF LITER OF LIGHT.
What is Liter of Light?
Liter of Light is an open-source design for a low-cost light tube that refracts solar light to provide daytime interior lighting for dwellings with thin roofs. The device is simple: a transparent two-liter bottle is filled with water plus a little bleach to inhibit algal growth and fitted into a hole in a roof.
What led you to begin your quest to end energy poverty?
So in 2013, super typhoon Yolanda, also known as 'Haiyan', affected the Philippines when it made landfall resulting in catastrophic damage, killing thousands and displacing many people. It was a dark time. Though survival was essential, cases of rape and theft were rising. I knew we needed an avenue of light immediately.
What challenges did you face while working on a solution?
Initially, when enquiring about the cost of solar streetlights, I found that 60 to 80% of the humanitarian aid fund goes towards logistics alone, which is a considerable percentage of our budget. That's when I learned that buying them wasn't feasible.
So you started in the Philippines, and today you're in 30 countries worldwide. How has your revolution gained momentum?
It started with one challenge. Soon after, people began challenging each other to build our solar light kits: Ministers, prominent people in business, influencers, and celebrities got involved. The people's power was in full effect.
From a tragedy to hitting 1 million lights around the world. What are some of your Twilight Zone moments?
I had a moment in Brazil, lighting up these villages when I received an email from Dreamworks. Steven Spielberg was working on developing a documentary series based on five change-makers whose ideas have changed the world, and he wanted me to be one of them. The power of ideas. Anyone anywhere can make a difference.
Do you have any advice for people who want to make a difference in their community?
The strength of multiplying yourself worldwide has the most significant impact, not the person alone. That includes giving up the helm of leadership to local leaders.