The latest installment in our Notes from the Field series comes from Kristen Ragazzo, an elementary school teacher who's lifelong dream has been to travel to Nepal. After last year's devastating earthquake, Kristen and her husband coordinated a trip to distribute LuminAID lights to communities that are still in need and shares the impact of the lights below:
One of Kristen's first observations after arriving in Kathmandu was the shortage of electricity, even in the capital city."We could literally count a handful of lights in the distance." With widespread power outages and a blockade at the India-Nepal border limiting fuel, medicine, and food supplies from entering the country, it was clear that LuminAID lights would be a precious and much needed resource to the communities that were struggling to rebuild their homes.
Over the course of the next 10 days, Kristen and her husband trekked to various remote villages and saw extensive, visible damage left from the earthquake. There seemed to be an overall sense of low morale among the locals due to these recent hardships. The need for basic goods was real and palpable as the locals were without any of the common items that we often take for granted. Light was certainly a commodity in this country and the people have had to learn to cope with its absence.
In the next few months Kristen's goal is to continue this campaign and bring it into the classroom where she teaches kindergarten and first grade general and special education students. Kristen plans to work closely with her students to set up a program in which they will collect to raise money for more LuminAID products. With these funds, Kristen hopes to send more lights to local Nepali contacts. They in turn will distribute the lights accordingly to their local villagers. By giving these students an active role in doing good for people who are in need, Kristen hopes to develop a sense of what it means to be a global citizen and to feel the remarkable effects of helping to positively impact the lives of others.
"We were so inspired by the current ways of life and how they were living with such limited resources. It was heartwarming to witness their faces as they so intently watched and listened to us talk about how to use the LuminAID lanterns. Each time that we handed one out, we knew that this tiny object would have a lasting effect on the family by providing them the light necessary to do basic chores; cook, study, and carry out daily activities after dark. In those moments we saw the bright expressions on their faces as they turned on the light for the very first time. In turn, we too felt energized by helping to serve these people and make a positive change in their lives. There was a resounding sense of gratitude and thanks expressed each and every time. The warm smiles we received will be engrained in our minds forever."
We wish Kristen the best of luck in her endeavors and are so motivated by her inspiring work to keep providing lights to those in need!