In 1997, at a colleague’s invitation, electrical engineer Dave Irvine-Halliday spent his sabbatical leave from Canada’s University of Calgary in Nepal, helping the University of Tribhuvan in Kathmandu launch its electrical engineering degree.
While there, he took a side trip into the heart of the Himalayas, on a trek along the Annapurna Circuit. Along the way, he visited a small village where he noticed that children were forced to study in the dark—or more likely, were not able to study at all—after the sun went down because there was no electricity.
Irvine-Halliday saw the light in his mission. If you were his wife, would you allow him to pour your family’s entire life savings, and the maximum limit on three credit cards into an organization that would Light Up the World?
Yes! Apparently, you would!
Working from his lab at the University of Calgary, he devised a plan for bringing low-cost lighting to villages without any reliable power supply: He would create energy with a pedal-powered generator, a hydro generator, or solar panels, then run lines into homes and connect them to low-energy (LED)lamps. In 1999, Irvine-Halliday went back to Nepal with his wife and one of his two grown sons to try out his idea. It worked.
By the end of 2001, Irvine-Halliday’s rechargeable, battery-powered, white LED cluster lamps were illuminating more than 700 homes, schools and other community buildings in remote villages in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka.
Today’s high-brilliance, white LED lamps can light a Nepalese village of 60 households consuming the same amount of energy as a single 100-watt light bulb in a Canadian home.
Light Up The World is not only donating light to the very poorest, but is also promoting job creation and assuring long-term viability for the project.Irvine-Halliday founded, financed, and turned-over Pico Power Nepal, a LED manufacturing firm, to Nepalese locals to ensure its sustainability and to generate employment and income in the area.
The average "one-time" cost of equipping a home with lighting is set to fall below $40. Not to mention the environmental benefits the system has versus the 300 million batteries discarded in Nepal each year, makes for truly a brighter alternative.
Light from kerosene lamps is poor, inefficient and unsafe. Toxic fumes inhaled because of close proximity to the lamp cause respiratory illness. Kerosene lamps also cause many fire catastrophes, burning both homes and bodies.
Check out the countries Light Up the World Foundation has impacted here.
Irvine-Halliday defines his success in his interview:
"I suppose success is when the 2 billion people in the world presently without any electricity of any sort actually have some form of safe, healthy, and affordable lighting. . .Light the Wolrd has refocused my life. I am turning 60 and this, without a doubt, is the next chapter in my life."
How can we change the world today?