San Mateo students receive solar powered personal LED lights

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Through a kind donation from a group called Grid Earth, represented by the Cochran family, 50 children received solar power necklace lights. The donation was made to school age children of the San Mateo Sub Division, on Sunday December 17th. The lights are personal solar powered “Light-emitting Diode” lights. The donation was made possible through the efforts of Audrey Cochran and her family. Coordinating the delivery was United Democratic Party councilor candidate, Kenrick Brackett.

Cochran spoke to The San Pedro Sun of the donation. “There are over one million people dying every year because of kerosene, most of them being children under the age of 14. So we want to get kerosene out of the homes of as many children as we possibly can,” explained Cochran

The Cochrans visited San Pedro ten years ago while on their honeymoon and just happened to visit the San Mateo community. According to Cochran, back then the situation was absolutely devastating. She was surprised however, when they returned years later, to find that the situation had only improved slightly.

As a result, they decided they wanted to help, “Today we brought small personal LED lights to distribute to the school aged children that don’t have any electricity or any power in their homes. My husband and I happen to be in the LED sign business so it’s what we do, the LED lights. Ten years ago when we were here on our honeymoon, LED lights weren’t as good as they are now, they used to be kind of a purple color and that wouldn’t have been good enough for doing homework. But over the last few years, LED has gotten better, solar panels have gotten better and the rechargeable batteries have gotten better. So in the last year it’s been the perfect time to build this product and start distributing it to areas without electricity.”

This marks the family’s second trip to San Mateo. During their first trip they distributed household lights to some families that were living along the water’s edge. This, they quickly realized would be too big of a project to continue. “As a result, we decided that we needed something that we could get in the hands of each of the children. We came back this year and brought 50 individual personal sized LED lights to give out to the children. I can see there are still more kids here that can use these lights so I am hoping that in a few months we can organize another trip and come back again.”

Apart from San Mateo, the group is travelling to villages that don’t have access to electricity doing similar distributions. “What we do is that we bring solar powered lights into villages that don’t have access to electricity and we provide these solar powered lights to the children or the families free of charge. We show them how to use them, educate them a little bit on the dangers of kerosene if they’re not aware and let them know that they are improving the health of their children by avoiding the use of kerosene.”

The LED lights that were distributed to the children in San Mateo have a lifespan of 10 – 20 years. The rechargeable battery in each light has a lifespan to about two years depending on use. The donation to San Mateo is estimated at a cost of 2,000. In speaking about the reason the family decided to give to Belize, Cochran stated, “we love Belize, we’ve been treated so kindly here. Everyone is so eager to help us and we’ll be here until every house in Belize has lights.” The group also supports local artists by purchasing locally produced artwork from the communities that they help, and re-selling it in the US market to create more funds to re-invest into the project.

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