David’s bright idea

Do you give money to beggars? I can think of plenty of reasons why such giving is not a good idea. Then, I’ll see some destitute woman shivering in the cold, and I’ll feel compelled to press a few dollars in her hand.

I believe God looks favorably on such gestures, but I think most would agree they are of limited value. If we really want to be a Good Samaritan, then our engagement with the poor needs to be more thoughtful and intentional.

I was reminded of this the other week when I met David Strait. David is an engineer from Madison, Wisconsin. Like many people in his church, David sponsors children in a community struggling with poverty in Rwanda. David took his interest one step further by joining a church vision trip and heading to Africa to actually meet his sponsored children.

While there, someone casually remarked that it was almost impossible for children to study at night as it gets dark about 6 p.m., and the community has no electricity supply.

A child in southern Rwanda studies using a solar-powered LED light.

A child in southern Rwanda studies using a solar-powered LED light. (Photo: David Strait)

David did not think much of it at the time. But months later, he was praying for his sponsored children while riding his bicycle in Wisconsin. Then, it came to him: How can I expect these Rwandan kids to do well if they can’t study after school? David noted the energy-efficient LED lighting he used on his bike and wondered whether there might be cost-effective solar-powered LED lighting available.

That thought led him on a remarkable journey. It turned out that such lights were just coming on to the market. David sent 10 trial lamps to Rwanda for evaluation. Later, he flew to Nairobi, Kenya, to attend a solar lighting conference and discovered three more models for World Vision staff to test in the community.

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Children could not only study for longer, but families could enjoy more social time in the evenings. In light of the positive reports, David’s church raised more than $73,000 to purchase 5,000 solar-powered lights for the community in a project dubbed “Lights for Learning.”

It’s been a huge success. Not only have test scores improved among children, but they are also healthier because of their diminished exposure to fumes from kerosene lamps. World Vision is eagerly looking into introducing the lamps at other project sites in Africa.

David returned to Rwanda to help distribute the LED solar-powered lights.

David returned to Rwanda to help distribute the LED solar-powered lights.

Now, David is the last person in the world to want to be stuck on a pedestal. But I do think his example is a challenge to us all to think how we can best make a positive impact. It involves learning about the problem, thinking about it, praying about it, using the practical skills God has given us, and working collaboratively toward a solution.

I even like the fact that David got the idea while taking time out to relax on his bicycle. The best ideas, I suspect, seldom come to workaholics.

Naturally, doing all of this is a whole lot more involved than simply throwing a few dollars at a problem and hoping it will go away. Giving money is certainly important -- but how much more productive, satisfying, and exciting is it when we are more actively engaged?

We might not all have the skills and abilities that David has, but I do believe we all have something to contribute -- and it’s much more than what is in our wallets.


Are you looking for new ways to get involved? Check out our list of activities and volunteering opportunities to find ways by which you can use your special skills or gifts.

Consider sponsoring a child. Through your love and support, you'll not only help provide life-giving essentials, but through this special relationship, God might reveal to you other ways that you can make a difference in the world.

Read more on the World Vision Blog about: donor stories Education Rwanda

    Comments

    Thank you, David, for using an idea God gave you and following through with it to help the Rwandese. God bless you!

    Once again, David has demonstrated how one person can make a difference in the lives of many through the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for listening to the still, small voice.

    This is great. David has shown a way that we can avoid "throwing a few dollars at a problem and hoping it will go away." Instead, we can prayerfully address the problem head on and provide a solution instead of a temporary cover-up. I dislike the idea of giving money to individuals but feel compelled when the situation seems drastic--"destitute woman shivering in the cold." It is encouraging to see people employing alternatives to the giving of money such as the giving of ourselves as David has done!

    I responded to the Nokero post on FB few minutes ago and was encouraged to follow up with you all. However, I wanted to be sure Nokero folks know that FUNHO/New Horizons Foundation has an "Adoptive Godparents" Project and we encourage adoptive families/friends/individuals to come and visit with the FUNHO children they support; it's easy as the location of the community is less than ninety minutes from Miami airport, in Puerta Plata/Poncho Matteo region of Dominican Republic.

    I AM RAPIDLY BECOMING AN EXPERT IN SOLAR ELECTRIC ENERGY ALSO SOLAR THERMAL
    AS I AM PARTIALLY DISABLED FROM WORKING I HAVE LOTS OF TIME BUT FEW RESOURCES,
    I ALSO HAVE SOME GOOD IDEAS FOR CLEAN WATER AND ELECTRICITY FOR THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES

    HOW CAN I HELP.?

    Hi Richard! Give us a call at 1 888.511.6502 and we can try to connect you with the right people. Thanks for stepping up and wanting to use your skills to help others! -Jonathan, WV staff

    We frequently travel to the colonial Mexico & there are people living without electricity there as well. We were very interested to read this article in the latest World Vision. Could you please tell us how these lights could be provided and where we could obtain these solar powered lights. Perhaps a program could be set up in Mexico.
    We look forward to hearing from you!

    Compassion in action is admirable in any form. Kudos to World Vision for the good work, and as well kudos to those that reach out and touch those other people, in front of their face and in need. "We can do no great things, only small things with great love." ~Mother Teresa

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