The project’s website gives two important statistics. First, 1.3 billion people around the world still depend on kerosene oil for light. The second statistic is that kerosene causes 1.5 million deaths annually.
To see that second statistic in perspective, realize that far fewer people die from malaria around the world in a given year, and that the number of kerosene-related deaths does not include the huge number of adults and children badly burned through kerosene fires.
Another, less noticeable – but no less real – aspect of kerosene use is that it causes a number of respiratory illnesses. According to the OML website, kerosene smoke inhalation is equivalent to smoking four packs of cigarettes per day and is related to many cases of asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and cancer in households which are forced to use kerosene as the only source of available light. Add to these very real health hazards the high cost of kerosene – which means that already impoverished families often spend up to half of their annual income on purchasing the fuel.
Yet the answer to this little-realized, but widespread cause of death, illness and impoverishment is as close as solar-powered lamps. That is where the One Million Lights organization enters the scene. The project has distributed over 59,500 solar lanterns since November 2014, in 27 countries across Africa, Asia, and the Americas. A map on the OML website shows where these lights have gone and makes it very clear what a tremendous effect the program is having.
The amazing thing is how little these lights cost compared to what they give. For every $15 donated to OML, members of a family somewhere are protected from possible death and injury, almost certain ill health, and increased poverty. Giving an impoverished family half its annual income back is, alone, an amazing return on fifteen dollars. If you choose to donate a light, you can even choose the area to which it will go – a menu lists far-scattered areas of need ranging from countries such as Liberia and Uganda to specific tribal regions and places such as Barwani and Kishanghar that you may never have heard of before.
But wherever the light goes, it can make a huge difference in people’s lives. As a Christian, you know that is true spiritually. In this case, it is true physically as well. So if you would like to let your light shine in this way, consider the work of the One Million Lights project. A little light goes a long way.