In the January/February issue of AFAR, I wrote about giving away Luci solar lanterns to high school students in Nagusi, Tanzania on a trip I made last fall. Mark Lakin of Epic Road Travel in New York inspired me and actually provided the lanterns.
We received many, many emails from readers with thoughts, suggestions for other things to give away, and offers to help.
Richard Winston, founder of Omvestments, a social impact investment firm based in Dallas, Texas, wrote about his interest. Mark connected him with the principals of Mpowerd, the manufacturer of the Luci lanterns, and within two weeks of the publishing of the issue, Richard had subscribed to the next round of funding for Mpowerd.
Several wrote of other ideas of things to give away while on their travels. Charlie Maffee of Spring Lake, New Jersey, gave away oven mitts in Seguku, Uganda. Gina Gilbert of Denver, Colorado, gave hosts outside of Barcelona truly unique American things such as Red Rocks Chili spices, Hudson Bay beef seasoning and maple syrup, green chilies from Hatch, New Mexico, a cookbook, and non-metric measuring cups and spoons. Keith Dalious from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, near a Crayola factory, has given Crayola crayons to students in South Africa, China, and Tibet.
Many more wrote saying they loved the idea and were going to give Luci lanterns in their future travels. One of these was Mitch Harris from Edmond, Oklahoma, who left for Niger in early January and is volunteering at the Christian Galmi Hospital. Mitch is helping to tear down the original mud hospital and rebuild it, out of concrete and sheet metal. He took 30 Luci lanterns with him to use and give away on the trip. He arrived into Niger right after the Charlie Hebdo shooting, and was confined for the first 10 days because of protests that killed 10 Christians in the community. His work on the hospital and giving away the lanterns is going well now.
If you are interested in giving away the lanterns, Mark produced this video in Namibia demonstrating what to anticipate when giving away the lanterns. And you can procure the lights directly from the manufacturer at Mpowerd.com.
Please feel free to share your ideas and what you’ve found in your gift-giving experiences.
Photo courtesy of Mpowerd/Instagram.