“I’ve been to South Sudan to volunteer. When I saw the children dressing, eating, and living, I couldn’t help but cry. You should actually see what’s going on there. Seeing people live like that, I realized I was actually living a very fortunate life. We get so used to what we have and take it for granted. Their medical and education systems are all so poor. They had no electricity, so I brought a solar-powered lantern to the night school. Despite the poor environment, so many kids joined the class because they really wanted to study. Their textbooks were totally worn; even the covers were gone. They didn’t even have any writing tools, so I brought a bunch of pencils to give to them, expecting they would like it. However, they kind of didn’t like it. Do you know why that is?” “No, why?” “They didn’t have any knives. There were no pencil sharpeners. Each house should have at least one knife, right? I thought they would for sure have one, but that was just my thought. They preferred a pen to a pencil, because they didn’t even have any knives.”
“제가 아프리카 남수단에 봉사활동을 하러 자원해서 가봤는데, 애들 옷 입고, 먹고, 생활하는 거 보면서, 그냥 눈물이 났어요. 정말 아무 말이 필요 없더라구요. 눈으로 봐야해요. 봉사활동을 하면 거꾸로 ‘저렇게 사는 사람도 있는데 난 너무 행복한 거잖아’ 하고 오히려 깨달아요. 우리가 너무 안일하게 우리에게 주어진 걸 모르고 살거든요. 거긴 의료 시설도 너무 열악하고 교육시설도 너무 열악해요. 전기가 없어서 야학 할 때 쓸 태양광 랜턴을 가져갔어요. 그렇게 야학을 하는데 공부를 하고 싶다고 애들이 엄청 와요. 이 애들이 가지고 온 책을 보면 겉표지도 없고 다 찢어져 있어요. 필기구도 없어요. 그래서 연필을 나눠주면 엄청 좋아할 거라고 생각해서 연필을 준비해서 가져갔는데 별로 안 좋아하는 거에요. 그게 왜 그런지 알아요?”
“왜 그렇죠?” “칼이 없어서요. 연필 깎을 칼이 없는 거에요. 집집마다 칼이 하나씩은 있어야 하잖아요. 당연히 있을거라고 생각했지만 그건 우리 생각일 뿐이에요. 오히려 볼펜을 더 좋아해요. 연필 깎을 칼이 없으니까.”
The MOONLIGHT, a solar powered lantern, is built and was designed in collaboration with the rural Cambodians it is made to serve. Over 70% of the country has no access to the power grid, so as a result they have traditionally relied on kerosene lamps after dark for tasks like cooking, eating and reading. Those lamps pose a great fire risk, as most rural homes are built from wood and straw. The MOONLIGHT can be rented in rural areas for less than $.08/day, the same amount traditionally spent on kerosene. These photos were taken in villages around Kandal Province, near the Mekong River, the first area to adapt the MOONLIGHT for everyday use.