Bring Light: Meet Elsa
I first met Elsa and her two sisters in 2017 when they enrolled at our Rangsei Village school in Cambodia. After getting to know Elsa’s family, we learned that this little girl came a very long way each day to have the opportunity to receive an education.
Her parents had first come to the border region near Poipet, Cambodia under the promise of being given jobs by a labor broker. They had given the man all the money they had for his services, with the sincere hope of creating a better life for their three children. But then, like so many others trying to escape severe poverty, they realized too late that it was all just a scam.
Left with nothing, the family began building a shelter deep in the jungle so their little girls would have a place to call home. On the day that we first visited, it was clear to us that their house might have been meager, but the love of the mom for her children was immense.
As we walked the long distance to their home from the closest road, we followed a narrow dirt path deep into the woods. While the setting was incredibly peaceful, I soon realized that their home didn’t have access to water or electricity. Elsa and her family were truly living “off the grid.” The girls told us that when the sun goes down at night, the entire jungle becomes pitch black.
As Elsa’s mom talked about the family’s struggles, she kept reiterating that her children were going to have a better life someday through education. She smiled and said her most important possession at that time was her daughters’ school uniforms because she knew they symbolized a better future. I loved seeing the girls’ school shirts all lined up on a nearby pole made from a tree branch.
Elsa and her older sister are both such good students. They never want to miss even a single day of school, despite the long distance they must travel to get there. They work so hard at their studies and listen closely to their teachers. In no time at all, Elsa developed a real love of reading.
There was just one problem, however. When Elsa would return back to her home each afternoon, all of her studies had to stop the moment the sun went down. Then, everything in her life went completely dark.
Later that year, we first started distributing a clean energy lantern in Cambodia that is powered completely by the sun. Elsa and her sister were two of the very first children who received the waterproof lights called Solarpuffs.
A few months later, Elsa’s mom told our team that she now had a new most-prized possession. Having solar lights at their home had allowed the girls to finish their homework at night, and it had allowed them to walk safely outside their home in the jungle. They used the lights every single day.
We know these solar lights last for three full years because just a few months ago, Elsa’s mom let us know that the original lights we had given them in 2017 were now wearing out. Elsa and her family reminded us that we haven’t done a solar light distribution in many years, which is why this week we are setting a goal to bring essential light to 1,000 children in the rural regions of India and Cambodia. In these locations, many children are trying their best to do their homework by using a candle or kerosene lamp, both of which pose a huge fire danger when living in small wooden homes.
This week, you can purchase a sun-powered light for a child for just $15. That is half off the normal retail price of these wonderful lanterns.
We know what having access to light has meant to Elsa and her family. Will you join us this week to light the night for as many other children as we can? As of today, our community has helped us raise enough so that 418 lights can be purchased, and for that, we are truly grateful. We still have a ways to go before reaching that wonderful goal of providing 1,000 children with a safe, renewable solar lantern.
Please help us bring light to children just like Elsa. Their desire to study and explore the world through reading should never end simply because the sun goes down. Thank you in advance for bringing them a brighter future!
~Amy Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer