The Community Outreach Club is sponsoring a quarter-long campaign to raise awareness about the Solar Electric Light Fund, a non-profit organization that brings solar power to underdeveloped nations.
The community service based club became inspired to work with SELF after learning that over 2 billion people in the world are living without electricity.
SELF’s mission is to bring solar power and modern communications to developing worlds, said King Tong, president of the Community Outreach Club.
Tong, a senior mechanical and aeronautical engineering major, said SELF has completed projects in many countries including Bhutan, Nepal, Tanzania, Brazil and India.
“We decided to work with SELF because the benefit of electricity is so much more than bringing light to people’s home or workplace – it’s also about powering water pumps for clean water and refrigeration for food and medicine,” he said.
Having electricity also opens the possibility for students to study at night and have access to news and information via Internet, radio and television, he said.
Additionally, it will allow for extended workdays and improved economic conditions.
“Having electricity bridges the economic gap between developing and developed nations,” Tong said.
Without electricity, most people in underdeveloped countries use kerosene lamps for lighting and firewood for cooking, Tong said.
Kerosene lamps provide weak lighting, can lead to fires and produce toxic fumes, he said.
According to the SELF website, approximately 780 million women and children breathing kerosene fumes inhale the equivalent of two packs’ worth cigarette smoke a day.
Solar panels are a safe way to generate electricity through nature without harming the environment in any way, Tong said. A solar panel is a device that collects and converts solar energy into electricity or heat.
“Solar panels are also more cost-efficient than other forms of electricity,” he said.
A typical 60-watt solar panel costs $250 and can provide enough electricity to power a village home for 25 years, according to the SELF website. A complete Solar Home System, which consists of the solar panels, batteries, switch bulbs and other equipment, costs $500.
The Community Outreach Club hopes to raise at least $1,000 to donate to SELF for the purchase of Solar Home Systems, said Jennifer Doan, treasurer of the Community Outreach Club.
Doan, a senior biological sciences major, said the club is selling glow-in-the-dark wristbands for $2 each at their upcoming meeting and at their table at the MU.
“The wristbands glow in the dark as a constant reminder that everyone in the world needs light,” she said.
During this quarter, the Community Outreach Club will be tabling at the MU with more information about SELF, solar panels and ways in which UC Davis students can help. The club will also be holding an informational booth at the Davis Farmers Market every Saturday and at Picnic Day on Apr. 19.
UCD students are welcome to attend an informational meeting tonight in 230 Wellman from 7 to 8 p.m. Free pizza and refreshments will be provided.
Tong encourages students to attend the meeting and increase their awareness of how important electricity is, especially to developing nations.
“Although it is a staggering number, there really are 2 billion people who don’t have access to electricity and can’t enjoy the things that we take for granted in the United States,” he said.
There are many causes that are catering to one specific need such as providing water or feeding people, but solar electricity encompasses all that and more, he said.
“With electricity, they can extend their workday, have clean water, access better healthcare or even just read a book at night,” he said.
By giving people electricity, they’re not just giving them light – they’re giving them a better way of life, Tong said.
More information about the Community Outreach Club can be found on davisoutreach.com. To learn more about SELF, visit self.org.
THUY TRAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. XXX