No, this isn’t the score of from Big Game–though it might as well be considering our depressing loss (but that’s another story entirely)–it’s the current score in the newest competition between the two mortal enemies: Rivals for Lights.
Lately, posters and emails announcing this competition have been up around campus, yet few Stanford students seem to know what’s going on. A relatively new organization, One Million Lights has the goal to distribute one million solar powered LED lights to children attending schools in impoverished areas in India, Kenya and Peru. The lights are also given to doctors working in rural hospitals in places like Nigeria and Haiti, where they are used in hospitals without electricity. To increase awareness of their mission, the organization came up with the Rivals for Lights, pitting the Cardinals against the Bears in which both schools try to donate the most, culminating in the Stanford v. Cal basketball game on March 6. Regardless, when considering all the other issues these countries have, one can’t help but wonder why give lights?
However, the lights actually make a huge difference in the lives of some of the neediest children and their families. In most these rural villages, people live without electricity and have to do all their work (school and otherwise) either by firelight, using kerosene lamps or in total darkness. Not only is this extremely inefficient and dangerous, kerosene lamps are hazardous to one’s health–its estimated that breathing in kerosene fumes is equal to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day–it’s also environmentally toxic. Since the lights are solar powered, they’re a free and clean way to replace the polluting kerosene lamps.
As far as determining where the donations go, the organization is careful to choose areas that are politically stable, often partnering with local NGO’s to make sure the chosen village already has basic infrastructures such as schools. One Million Lights also has started an ambassador program, allowing students traveling abroad to hand deliver the lights so they can see the impact of the donations themselves. According to the one of the founders, Anna Sidana, these children already understand the value of education and these lights give the students a way to improve their lives through education.
At $25 each, donating the cost of one light might seem like asking for much from one college student, especially after the out pouring of support from Stanford students to Haiti relief. However, every little bit counts and these lights have already make a tangible impact on thousands of children.
We have one week left, and there is no way we can let the inferior Cal beat us. This is are chance to redeem ourselves from the shame of Big Game, so we must show them how more philanthropic and awesome we are. Give a little, give a lot; just don’t give Cal the chance to forget who is and will always be #1.