Students work to bring light to Third World countriesWritten by Aya Khalil | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Four students from St. John’s Jesuit Academy want to illuminate the world – one BoGo Light at a time.
Eighth graders Sean Wheelock, Dominic Zirbel, Amir Horani and Harry Thaman are creating awareness about the 1.9 billion people around the world who do not have proper electricity.
“They’re using kerosene, candles, and conventional flashlights,” Thaman said. “Occasionally, candles can be dangerous because they can burn up the home and they’re expensive.”
Thaman said regular flashlights are inconvenient and bad for the environment because the batteries have to be changed frequently and go “straight to the rivers and streams.”
“We were wondering what we can do to try help these people,” Wheelock said.
Their science teacher, Dave Nichols, introduced them to the BoGo Light, a solar-powered flashlight that stands for “buy one, give one.”
For every BoGo Light sold, SunNight Solar, donated a BoGo light to a third-world country.
The four students worked with SunNight Solar, a renewable energy company in Houston, and started a program called “Schools Lighting the Way.” This was a way to educate students across the nation learn about the vital need for solar lighting, as well as start a fundraiser. The company put St. John’s logo on the flashlights.
The St. John’s students call their fundraiser “Green Light Project.”
The solar flashlights use LEDs, light emitting diodes, versus incandescent bulbs. LEDs last about 100,000 hours, while incandescent light bulbs last for 1,000 hours.
“Our goal is to light the world,” Wheelock said. “We can do something small that helps the world. We can really make a difference in people’s lives and that’s what we want to do.”
The students hosted a school raffle and raised $1,000 to send some BoGo Lights to countries with insufficient lighting like Africa, Appalachia and Guatemala.
“Energy poverty is huge, so it hurts a lot of people,” Horani said.
The students were the youngest participants at the Sylvania Business Expo in March, presenting their Green Light Project.
“We had some people that were like, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll think about it … but then you could see that some people really got into the subject,” Horani said. “You could just see they really wanted one. We weren’t selling them there, but half of them wanted to buy one.”
“Last semester, we put up stickers around the academy, which said, ‘please turn off the lights,’” Zirbel said.
The students also conducted a two-week survey about the usage of energy light and urged classmates to turn on the lights only when necessary.
“Once you inform people about it, they help reduce [light usage],” he said.
Principal Chris Knight said the school is proud of the students, who all credit teacher Marcia Chamber as their mentor.
“They’re highly motivated to do something,” Knight said. “It matches with our school’s motto: ‘To be men for others,’ and they’re taking that to heart.”
The students hope other schools will take part in this project. They are contacting Jesuit schools across the country.
“We want it to have a ripple effect and hopefully we are starting that ripple,” Wheelock said.
For more information, go to http://www.schoolslightingtheway.com/.