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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Light for Light + An Easy and Important Way YOU Can Help Right Now to Electrify Africa

Today I am writing as part of a month-long blog relay for ONE called “Light for Light.” At the end of this post there is a SUPER EASY way for you to do some real good. You won’t even have to click off this site to do it, so lend your voice (and your typing fingers) and help out!

Let's help electrify africa! ONE #lightforlight #electrifyafrica blog relay | post by @janemaynard

When I’m wearing my photographer’s hat, I crave outdoor light. It makes lighting photos easier, everything looks more natural, and the pictures are generally more beautiful and striking. And, for my work as a food photographer, natural light is essential. If I have to photograph something using indoor light, well, I am not a happy camper.

This week, however, I have been trying to look at indoor light differently. I’ve been looking for the beauty in the “unnatural” light that I so often disdain. Because, truly, that light is beautiful. It is warm. It is inviting. And it gives our family opportunities beyond imagination.

Let's help electrify africa! ONE #lightforlight #electrifyafrica blog relay | post by @janemaynard

My children can eat breakfast in the warmth of their own well-lit kitchen, even before the sun rises.

Let's help electrify africa! ONE #lightforlight #electrifyafrica blog relay | post by @janemaynard

My children can read, even after the sun sets.

Let's help electrify africa! ONE #lightforlight #electrifyafrica blog relay | post by @janemaynard

The orchid in my kitchen glows under the 1 kitchen light we leave on during evening hours to light our way through the house. It is beautiful.

Let's help electrify africa! ONE #lightforlight #electrifyafrica blog relay | post by @janemaynard

Our family can enjoy holidays and birthdays and celebrations of all kinds under the lights hanging over our patio, those lights becoming a part of the fabric that is our collective family memory.

I am truly grateful for this this light that provides so much life after sunset. Yeah, I still need that “perfect” daylight for my food photography, but I will no longer shy away from the “imperfect” light that the photographer in me so often avoids. I will embrace the challenge and be grateful for that light.

When I traveled to Malawi in May and discovered a world where less than 10% of the people have electricity, I was stunned. To see with my own eyes what life is like for an entire country essentially without electricity, well, it was beyond what I had ever imagined.

I heard many, many, MANY statistics on the Malawi trip, and they all affected me deeply. But there were a few that really stood out, including this: 8 out of 10 people in sub-Saharan Africa heat their home and cook food using open fires. Inhalation of smoke and fumes produced from burning traditional fuels results in more deaths per year among women and children than from HIV/AIDS and malaria COMBINED. Forget the issue of simply lighting your home, lack of electricity is literally killing people every day.

The other thing that stood out to me while looking at the homes in the villages we visited were the schoolchildren. Once the sun goes down, studying and reading is out of the question. The fact that my girls can read for hours each night is a luxury. Their head lamps for reading in bed are a blessing.

Let's help electrify africa! ONE #lightforlight #electrifyafrica blog relay | post by @janemaynard

Here’s the cool thing – we can do something about it! ONE’s bill, the Electrify Africa Act, was reintroduced in the House this past month by Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee – Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY).  The bill would help provide electricity to 50 million Africans for the first time, at no cost to US taxpayers

Let's help electrify africa! ONE #lightforlight #electrifyafrica blog relay | post by @janemaynardLet’s help make everyone’s nighttime merry and bright!

This same bill did not pass last year and we can’t let that happen again! We need to tell our leaders that we support this bill. Simply fill out the form below and click “sign petition” and you will have helped in a significant way. Thank you!

I am participating in the #lightforlight blog relay with ONE. Each day this month a different blogger is writing about light and tomorrow Whit Honea will be sharing his thoughts at Dads 4 Change, so be sure to check it out! Here are the posts that have been published so far. They are all beautiful.

For those of you who would like to read more on the subject, here are some great resources:


  1. 1

    Just signed the petition. I love that you are a part of this and really trying to make a difference. Thank you for sharing!

  2. 2
    Tamara Ogg

    The statistics are staggering. Shocking really. Light is something we definitely take for granted. I had heard about this on NPR but u witnessed it. I hope we can help make or fellow brother & sisters lives easier & safer.

    • yes, the statistics are most definitely staggering. almost too much to take in. thank you for your wonderful comment, tamara, and for helping out!

  3. 3
    Maria Pitts

    Thank you Jane!

  4. 4


  5. Petition signed, thank you. Gorgeous post.

  6. Signed the petition. Such a beautiful way to help.

  7. 7

    Amazing! thanks for bringing this to my attention! signed the petition!

  8. 8
    Nikki CB

    It took me a while (although not for lack of enthusiasm for this!) but I finally signed the petition and read this great post. Thank you for doing this.

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