Notes from the Field: Lighting Up Rural Peru

by Paul Winkel, PowerMundo Peru

Solar lights are illuminating the homes and minds of children living in rural Peru. (Photo: PowerMundo 2012)

Around the world, 1.4 billion people still have no access to electricity. In cooperation with the U.S. Department of State’s Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, Trees, Water & People (TWP) and our partners are working to bring light and energy to rural communities in Central America and Peru. Paul Winkel, who works with TWP partner PowerMundo to distribute solar lights and cell phone chargers, offers his reflections:

When I was a teacher, we often spoke amongst ourselves of that special moment when we “lit up a child’s life.” Those times where we could see a child come alive and truly connect, when you felt you were making the biggest difference.

I don’t think any of us really understood the full meaning of that saying – light is so common in our lives that we do not appreciate its power, and so it passes merely into metaphor. But here in Peru millions live in the dark, and in my few months I have truly seen lives illuminated. Not just children, but entire families now light up because of our work, and that light radiates in incredible ways.

It seemed such a simple idea when I left home…yet the best usually are. A small plastic device that fits in your hand – a light and cell phone charger that changes lives. And not as a gift, that’s the best part. These people are not “poor” – many live amongst some of the greatest natural wealth I have ever seen. They do not need our charity or one-off projects. All they need is the market for a solution; and we’re here to help create it.

Learn more about Trees, Water & People’s Cleantech Program here.

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Trees, Water & People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to developing sustainable community-based conservation solutions.

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