Throughout the 2015-16 academic year, students at Concordia University, Nebraska raised awareness and funds to build solar-powered LED lights through the non-profit organization New Vision Renewable Energy. As a result of these efforts, Concordia presented $3,800 to NVRE President Rev. Ruston Seaman during his visit to campus on May 20, 2016. The funds will cover the cost to make more than 30 lights that will be provided to residents in Haiti.
“A team of five student leaders thought this was a great project for Concordia because it has ties to Seward [through Seaman’s family] yet reaches a global population,” said Concordia student Malinda Standerfer. “By reaching people in regions like Haiti and East Africa, students reached people with physical lights and also the light of Jesus Christ.”
While on campus, Seaman demonstrated the solar-powered LED lights used by NVRE to enable people in developing countries to have light. Each light solution costs $120 to make.
The devices, put together by the organization’s more than 700 volunteers throughout the United States, use old political campaign signs to hold solar panels and LED lights that ensure five hours of light for one room. The lights enable students to study in the evening and prepare themselves educationally for a brighter future. Because the lights are bright enough to fill one room, family members also benefit from having enough light to read, maintain their homes, weave baskets or create other sellable goods, keep their children safe from predatory animals and generally be more comfortable during evening hours.
“It’s a light for a room so everybody in the room can do something,” said Seaman. “By extending the possible hours [of light] a few more, you can make the difference between eating and not eating, and between having an education and not. It’s that simple. … What we’re most encouraged by is when an institution like Concordia, which has students from all over the country and all over the world, makes a decision to elevate this to relevant poverty reduction solutions, then Concordia becomes a literal light to some villages. … This light is a way to help people make another step.”
According to the United Nations Foundation, “1.2 billion people have no access to electricity and the development benefits it brings.” The university and NVRE continue to discuss ways in which Concordia students, as well as Seward and surrounding communities, will collaborate during 2016-17 to contribute to the solution for this worldwide problem by increasing support of NVRE.
Students and other volunteers will likely have opportunities to raise funds, collect political signs and help assemble lights on behalf of the organization to benefit families in Haiti and Guatemala, two countries where Concordia already has a strong mission presence. Final plans for 2016-17 will be determined and announced in the fall.
“Our students, faculty and staff understand the importance of working with those who so long to see clearer, whether growing in understanding or merely light in the darkness,” said Campus Pastor Ryan Matthias. “We pray that this partnership over these two years would bring bountiful gifts to the children and their families.”
For more information about New Vision Renewable Energy, visit nvre.org.