Light Up the World is a non-profit organization that aims to provide access to life-changing solar technologies to underserved communities worldwide. We spoke with Aaron Cohen, Technical Project Manager of Light Up the World, to find out more about what they do.
Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.
More than 700 million people are currently living without access to electricity around the world. Light Up the World is a registered Canadian charity and international development organization dedicated to providing access to life-changing solar technologies to underserved communities worldwide. LUTW has been based in Calgary, Canada since 1997.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Light Up The World (LUTW) aims to provide access to energy for rural communities living without power. The organization has a focus on energy equality which means installing systems that will give users a similar experience to the electrical grid considering their power consumption.
When did you start/join it?
I joined in 2018 as a technical intern and have been with the organization ever since working to bring energy to off-grid communities.
What made you want to get involved?
I went on a university trip with LUTW as a student in early 2018 which inspired me to get more involved with the organization. The experience drove me to learn Spanish in fall 2018 and join the organization’s electrification efforts in Peru and Guatemala.
What was the situation like when you started?
The organization was in the process of increasing the size of their installed systems and executing more projects to better meet the energy needs of rural communities. The pandemic hit the organization hard, bringing volunteer projects and thus a large portion of its operations to a halt.
How has it changed since?
LUTW continues to execute on this plan now installing systems with lithium-ion batteries to increase the life expectancy of installed systems and reduce system maintenance. These new system design initiatives will provide light in the otherwise very dark Andes mountains and amazonian jungle allowing communities to take advantage of the internet, laptops, and a range of other devices that we use every day without thinking of their power consumption that will improve their quality of life.
What more needs to be done?
The organization is pursuing new academic and corporate partnerships and applying to grants with the same vision of universal equal energy access.
How can our readers help?
Getting involved through a general volunteer project is often seen as a once-in-a-lifetime experience where one can install an off-grid photovoltaic system in a rural Peruvian community guided by LUTW. Having had a LUTW project experience as a student I can say that it changed my perspective on energy forever and would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about solar energy, travel to a remote location, and/or see firsthand the daily life of rural communities. The organization also raises funds through campaigns and events to execute projects in areas where volunteers can’t currently be taken.
Do you have any events coming up?
Registrations for two general volunteer projects will open up soon on the LUTW website. Every new one-time donation, social media share with tagging the organization, or monthly donor will receive entries to win a Peruvian gift basket.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
Change for Children, based out of Edmonton. Change for Children runs many programs in many different countries. They have been running programs in South America since the mid-1970s. They work with indigenous communities that have been marginalized and work to promote their rights and cultures to help them build a better future.