Groups team up to bring light to Haiti

admin | 2/23/2012, 4 a.m.

The average person in Haiti spends about 281 days a year without electricity. Often times students and other citizens of the island nation are forced to work in the dark. Now two groups in South Florida have joined forces to bring solar lights to Haiti. Solar Lights for Haiti began as a collaboration between us and Color of Hope, said Marli Lalanne, director of operations for Konbit for Haiti. They came to the table with this project that they were trying to get off the ground. It was just a match with what we both were trying to accomplish. Konbit, a Haitian term, means to work together as a community. In order to raise money for solar lights to be brought to Haiti, Konbit sells commemorative shirts for $15 that say, Honor, Remember, UNITE. The groups have a goal of raising enough money to purchase 1,000 solar power lights. So far they have met the halfway mark with 500 shirts sold. We want to bring awareness to the energy crisis in Haiti and bring those lights to the communities and groups that really need them, Lalanne said. We are eager to see how introducing the people of Haiti to an alternative source of energy will impact their lives. So far we have gotten a very good response from Haitian people and American people alike. The lights will be purchased from D. Light, a San Francisco-based company that has worked with other under-developed countries in the past on similar initiatives, and then shipped to Haiti to be installed in buildings throughout the country. This is a cause that hit home for me being that I am from Haiti, said Lalanne, who came to the U.S. when she was 15-years-old. Kids are desperate to learn in Haiti so much so that they read by candle light just to do their homework. There are all kinds of obstacles thatthey face when all they want to do is learn. Frensisca Aristil, 28, assistant project manager for Color of Hope, based in Palm Beach, said she supports the solar light project because there is a obvious need for the energy source. The reason that I became a part of this program is because I see the need, she said. We have students in Haiti that dont have electricity at all. Ultimately, Color of Hope wants to raise one million dollars throughout the Haitian diaspora to help Haiti. Shirts can be purchased online at colorofhope.org or at Konbit, 521 NW 81 ST. By Randy Gricergrice@miamitimesonline.com