Anera teams up with U-Light to brighten homes in Lebanon
When you walk into a room and switch on a light you don’t think twice. But having a light indoors is a luxury for more than a billion people around the world. U-Light is trying to change that, and has teamed up with Anera to help brighten up Lebanon.
What is U-Light? The human-powered crank-up light was developed by a team of young African entrepreneurs who entered the 2018 Hult Prize challenge, known as the "Nobel Prize for Students" and ended up one of six finalists. The team is based in the United Arab Emirates and aspires to end energy poverty and help communities generate their own power supplies.
In Lebanon, where a prolonged economic crisis has impacted all aspects of daily life, including reliable power supplies, the U-Light can be a life-saver.
Anera has distributed nearly 500 of the portable, manually rechargeable emergency lights to Palestinian camps and Lebanon communities.
Anera’s worked with its local charity partners, like Ahlam Lagea Association in Mar Elias Palestinian Refugee Camp and Al Mouwasat Organization, to make sure the neediest are well-served. We sent some of the lights to Rosary School and Al-Markaziah School whose students and families were devastated by the 2021 Beirut port explosion.
Amid Lebanon’s continuing power outages, Anera was determined to keep the lights on for young people trying to study and make a future for themselves. Access to education needs access to electricity.
Palestinian refugee Muhammad Ramadan lives in Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp. The 15-year-old wants to be an automobile electrician. The combination of lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s economic crisis made it impossible for his parents and so many other families to secure reliable electricity and internet access. That made it almost impossible for their children to continue their studies online. Muhammad was forced to repeat an academic year. Now he’s back in school and, thanks to his personal U-Light, can continue to study even when the power goes out.
“At least I can finish my homework," he says. "And it also gives enough light for us to get some chores done.”
Nour Deeb is a 19-year-old university student in Ghobeiry, a Beirut suburb. She works as a tutor to help support her family.
“The electricity crisis is a tremendous burden for all students in Lebanon, especially when education was online but even now after school is back in-person.”
She says the U-Light she received from Anera is the only way she can study during electricity cuts. “We don't have a generator. So what’s great about this light is it doesn’t need to be charged with electricity, just my ability to crank it up. That’s perfect!”
"What’s great about this light is it doesn’t need to be charged... just my ability to crank it up. That’s perfect!”
Ahmed Deeb loves painting. The 21-year-old Ghobeiry resident says the U-Light was a savior.
“As a painter, I have been greatly affected by the power cuts. I would have to sit outside on the balcony to paint and only during the day. Now I have light and can study and paint inside at night.”
Anera is distributing U-Lights to several educational centers where youth like Muhamad, Nour and Ahmed are completing our 'functional skills' program. They take English lessons and financial and computer skills classes to support their personal development and help them excel academically and access the job market.
"Now I have light and can study and paint inside at night.”
Nagham El Hindi is Anera's field coordinator in the Mount Lebanon district. “We specifically distributed the crank-up lights to the most financially vulnerable students to give them the ability to study at home even at night," she says. "They absolutely love them.”
U-Light is a fine example of youth entrepreneurship. Anera is fortunate to benefit from that ingenuity to be able to provide some simple, affordable and reliable human-powered energy solutions for Lebanon’s most needy communities.