What do you think Christmas lights look like?
A year ago on a visit to Rwanda, one of the things that most profoundly moved me was meeting a homeless widow who had had a house built for her through a tourist project. She proudly showed us her home and also a single solar light bulb she'd been given which had transformed her life.
Most villagers there still rely on kerosene lamps which provide very poor light and also have terrible effects on health from eye-sight to lungs (using a kerosene lamp is the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day). The light is also so poor that many school children find it difficult to study after the African sun sets into pitch darkness late afternoon,
For around $15/£11 a new solar lightbulb can transform home, health and bring life to a village after dark. So simple.
After seeing that, the consumerism of Christmas and the endless drive for gifts back in the UK was a bit of a shock to adjust back to. My friends and family had been asking what I would like as a gift and I arrived at my answer. I'd wanted solar light bulbs please and that's what I would be giving many people too.
I opened the opportunity up to others to join in via GoFundMe and to my amazement in xmas 2017 we raised enough for nearly 500 light bulbs. Our cover picture here is of those being distributed in February 2018 and here is a video from that presentation. The bulbs were distributed to households where children were due to sit exams this year, mindful of the critical importance of education.
By popular demand, I have decided to repeat the exercise and see if anyone would like to join in again this year. Our aim is to, by Christmas, pay for a further 100 bulbs for a village in Rwanda. Our wonderful friends on the ground there will once again ensure the bulbs are bought, distributed and we'll post pictures of that happening again too to close the loop. They are £11 each, so a donation of a multiple of that will allow us to buy the number you'd like to donate.
Last year, the support this campaign received was overwhelming for me and the presentation of those bulbs was one of my proudest moments. I for one know which lights represent the spirit of Christmas most for me, I hope some of you will agree.
For me, this is not the spirit of Christmas....
Update. I have been asked by GoFundMe to provide further information about this campaign as follows. My name is Margot Raggett (www.margotraggettphotography.com
) and I am a wildlife photographer and conservationist. I travel frequently to Africa and have travelled twice to Rwanda in the last 12 months. I have good friends there, Phil & Charlie Mason, who are the lodge managers at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge and do a lot of community work. After my visit last year I was so moved by the encounter with a widow who had received a solar light that I determined to try and raise as much as I could to send more lights out to her fellow villagers. As I explained above, last year they sourced and arranged the delivery of 500 lights to local villagers, using the funds last year's campaign raised. You can see pictures and the video of that presentation above, so you know it actually happened and here is a link to them promoting the campaign again this year https://www.facebook.com/SabyinyoSilverbackLodge/posts/10157378216243488.
The plan is exactly the same again this year. Whatever we raise will be sent to them, via their employers, Governor's Camp. They then buy the lamps and arrange with the local chiefs who should receive lights. We'll then once again post pictures of that, so you see directly how your money has been spent!