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Get to Know Unite to Light’s Solar-Powered Lamp

Santa Barbara-Based Organization Distributes “Luke Lights” for Education, Global Health, and Disaster Relief


Unite to Light was founded to accomplish a very simple goal: Give people across the developing world ​— ​where more than one billion live without electricity ​— ​small solar-powered lamps so that they can easily read and study at night. Since 2011, the Santa Barbara–based organization has distributed more than 115,000 lights and chargers, which are now also used by midwives to deliver babies at night and in disaster relief efforts across the globe.

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The bright 20-Lumen LED is designed for reading up to eight hours a night, which is equivalent to 2,920 hours of homework per year! In South Africa, that’s increased graduation rates by 20 to 30 percent each year.

Flexible gooseneck is easy for shipping, stuffing into a bag, or hanging from whatever. This is particularly handy for midwives, who deliver 150 to 200 babies annually, based on projects in Bangladesh and Somaliland. “One of these little $10 lights is helping 200 women and their children and their families each year,” said the organization’s president Megan Birney.

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Solar panels provided eight hours of night light for every eight hours in the sun. The new light sources allow families to ditch their kerosene lamps, which are costly, can cause asthma, and contribute to air pollution.

In February 2019, the next generation will be waterproof and include a bracket to lock the neck in place. It will also have a better battery and a push-button switch rather than a toggle, and it will turn off its light when in the sun. “This is important when people have never seen an on/off switch,” said Birney.

Increase smiles all around with Unite to Light’s Buy One, Give One program, where you can take one home while delivering another to someone in need.

See unitetolight.org/shop. Learn more about specific projects ​— ​including ones that distribute solar-powered charging stations that can be used to power up cell phones, tablets, or even fetal heart monitors ​— ​at unitetolight.org/connect.

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