USA (MNN) -- What would it be like to live without electric lights?
Productive work is limited to the hours the sun is shining. Without light bulbs or reliable electricity, people in many poor regions resort to kerosene lamps or open flame. Getting around after dark proves a safety risk in poor areas, too, but this is something those living in poverty deal with every day.
In the slums and rural villages of Haiti, light and electricity are inconsistent at best, non-existent in most cases.
It affects everyone in the community. For adults, their productivity is limited to daylight hours. Home-based businesses like tailoring end at dusk. For children, school is followed by a long walk. Safety issues mean that walk has to be in daylight, so time available in the classroom is restricted. When they arrive home needing to do their schoolwork, students have no light to study, and all that greets them is darkness and thick smoke from the open fire.
Bright Hope wants to change that and is doing so through social media and advocacy. They're focusing on Pignon, Haiti, a rural spot some 60 miles northeast of Port-au-Prince, where electricity is scarce. More on that in a moment.
Bright Hope International President CH Dyer explains, "We've got churches that are being planted, the Gospel being shared, people coming to Christ; we have food, clothing, and medicines being delivered. We also have microloan programs that are helping these families raise their income; so, it's a real holistic effort."
One of the ministry's friends noted the issues with lack of light and decided to do something about it. "We recently had a contributor who had a whole bunch of these hand-cranked flashlights--15,000, in fact--and people really loved them because there was no electricity at night."
Bright Hope distributed the flashlights in a few rural ministry areas in Pignon, and people loved them. "I am very happy for this special gift, because my church is in the countryside. Sometimes people don't have light. They don't have money to buy gas to put in their lamp. When people find this flashlight, they will be very happy. It is a blessing for the people," said Pastor Stanley, a Haitian Pastor partnering with Bright Hope.
Dyer goes on to say, "You can give them one of these flashlights, and it won't wear out because it isn't relying on batteries. It will give people a pleasant experience of being able to have some safety at night, and is just a useful tool."
The donor, seeing the enthusiasm of the recipients, thought of a way to not only meet a need, but also to raise awareness about Bright Hope's work. "This donor said, 'I want to help you in other ways, so I'll donate one of these flashlights for every person who comes to Bright Hope's fan page on Facebook and 'Likes' you guys."
From now thru May 31, for every new Fan Page "Like" Bright Hope receives on Facebook, they'll donate a hand-powered flashlight to a village in Haiti. They're hoping to get at least 5,000 "Likes" on the page.
It's no coincidence that there's a connection between physical and spiritual needs. "It'll be the church spreading light: physical light. Of course, our hope is that this will build relationships so when it comes to the next evangelistic meeting they have, they say, 'Hey--come to church. You know that church that provided you that flashlight? Why don't you come to church and hear more about this Jesus who loves you so much.'"
Making life brighter for Haitians is as simple as flipping a switch, or in this case, clicking a button. "Like" Bright Hope's Facebook Fan Page at Facebook.com/BrightHopeIntl to bring Hope and light to thousands. It is simple, free, and will impact thousands of lives of those living in extreme poverty
Bright lights, Bright Hope, "Like" for Light.