MESA COUNTY, Colo.- - Help Light the Night is a local non-profit organization that raises money to send solar powered lamps to developing countries. On Saturday, April 1, they hosted their annual Dinner in the Dark to raise money for their next shipment of lights to students in Haiti.
At the dinner a traditional Haitian meal was served, along with Haitian music. This was in an effort to bring the culture of Haiti to the Grand Valley. Around 60 people attended the dinner where $2,600 was raised for their initiative. "We had all these people come together and experience the culture of Haiti, while also being able to send electricity and change people's lives in that country," says Wyatt Hurt, the Public Relations Specialist for Help Light the Night.
The organization is entirely managed by high school students. Their mission is to provide those in developing countries with light. Ethan Schweissing, the Vice President of Help Light the Night, says he joined the group after seeing electricity get taken for granted. "I saw a couple of kids fighting over a power outlet to charge their laptop. While people in developing countries don't have access to electricity at all, so it just made me really inspired to get involved and help give the gift of light to people who don't have it," says Schweissing. In total, $4,000 has been raised to send around 250 lamps to the K-12 school in Haiti.
Sending the solar lamps has many more benefits rather than just providing light as well. "I remember when we sent lamps to India in my sophomore year, I believe, when we heard back from the people in India, they said that they were using the lights to fend off snakes in the dark," says Anqi Yu, the President of Help Light the Night. "A lot of people really don't realize how dangerous it is to go without electricity. And especially in a lot of these countries, it's pitch black at night which causes a lot of problems. And a lot of places use kerosene, which actually kills more people than malaria each year," says Hurt.
The organizers say the goal is to help people become independent of the group's assistance. "We facilitate independence, you know, a lot of places, you send food, you send money, and then people become dependent. What we're trying to do is make sure people are independent and that they don't need us in the long-term," says Hurt.
Students working with the organization believe this program is beneficial for everyone involved. "This kind of work has changed my life as much as hopefully it's changed the lives of the people we've sent the lamps to. So I think it's just a really wonderful opportunity for students to be able to have this experience and hopefully take this interest in public service into their adult lives as well," says Yu.
Yu has been invited to Haiti to help distribute the lamps. If any high school students are interested in helping out, they can email the group at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website.