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Access to cheap and plentiful electricity is something most of us take for granted. However, such is not the case in many parts of the world, especially in third world countries, where the poor live in shanty homes that are often constructed from cardboard or other flimsy materials.
However, for residents of the San Vicente Village in San Pedro, in the Philippines the problem is even worse - Their houses are shrouded in darkness 24 hours a day. And, its not because the sun does not shine in the Philippines, but because, the thin plywood homes are packed in so tightly together that there is no room for windows.
To make matters worse, in an attempt to create a sense of 'separate' rooms, the residents hang curtains inside, making the homes even more dark and stuffy. The only light that illuminates these shanty homes are single bulbs powered by electric generators. Since they have to be on 24 hours a day, it is an expensive option costing homeowners, as much as, $6USD a month - A fortune, in a country where the average monthly income is between $100-$150USD.
Now, thanks to a local philanthropist the homes are finally seeing the (day)light! The Isang Litrong Liwanag (A liter of light) project, was inspired by MIT engineer Amy Smith's bottle bulb that she invented for Haiti, and is being spearheaded by Manila resident, Illac Diaz.
It involves creating a small hole in the corrugated iron roof of the houses and fitting in a bulb - Except, this is not your ordinary light bulb - But a recycled 1.5 liter plastic bottle filled with water and a little chlorine bleach. The bottle bulb refracts the sun's rays, creating 'light' that is as bright as a 55-watts bulb! Thanks to the bleach, the water does not get moldy, and each bulb that costs only $1USD to install, can last up to 5 years, before it needs to be replaced.
Illac Diaz and his team of eight have shared their technology with other slums in the area and also, with the surrounding towns of Cebu and Visayas. While they have managed to install over 12,000 solar bulbs so far, they still have a long way to go - The 'Liter of Light' foundation is hoping to light up over one million additional homes by 2012! To read more about this amazing project or donate go to isanglitrongliwanag.org.
Resources :articles.cnn.com, lifestyle.inquirer.net