Kenyan students with lights from Extend the Day. The nonprofit is working with the Tembea Youth Center for Sustainable Development to distribute some of the lights. (Extend the Day Photo)
When Jo Lonseth and her dad, Andrew, were designing a solar-powered light for their nonprofit organization Extend the Day, they had to walk a fine line.
The device needed to perform reliably and be robust enough to withstand the wear and tear of their target audience: kids in developing countries that lack reliable electricity doing homework after dark. But if the lights were too good, did too much, their parents would be sure to nab them for their own. That meant omitting the ability to use the lights to recharge cell phones and attaching them to a sturdy cord, as opposed to making them wearable as a headlamp.
To create their light, the two purchased and took apart solar lights found on Amazon, eBay and Alibaba, dissecting the components, size, shape and weight. They settled on a stackable rectangular design that fits in the palm of the hand.
Now, more than five years later, Extend the Day, which is based west of Seattle on Bainbridge Island, has given out 16,000 lights to …read more