It's probably not hard to imagine that electricity is critical to all aspects of development. For example, without electricity, health clinics are unable to keep vaccines at the proper temperature, causing them to spoil, and rendering them useless to save lives. Hospital equipment sits unused. Businesses, especially those unable to afford a generator, aren't able to function efficiently. And Malawi's situation isn't singular: across sub-Saharan Africa, 7 out of 10 people don't have access to electricity.
Seventy percent. Millions of people who don't have access to refrigeration. Millions of children who can't do homework at night. Because there is literally no light to work by.
But there's good news: last year, the United States House of Representatives and Senate both introduced bills that would help bring electricity to 50 million people in Africa for the very first time. And while, unfortunately, it didn't pass, we have another chance this year: last week, on June 23rd, the Electrify Africa Act was re-introduced: and I, together with the ONE Campaign, want to make sure that this time, it happens.
I'm known for saying "look for the light" a lot on Chookooloonks -- light is, after all, a photographer's medium. In fact, the word "photography" literally means "drawing with light" -- without light, I couldn't do what I do. So when the ONE Campaign asked if I would help spread the word to convince US politicians to help pass the bill, I was only too happy to help. So I'm the very first person to participate in ONE's Light for Light Campaign -- for the entire month of July, some of your favourite photobloggers will be sharing their favourite light-filled photographs; in exchange, we'll be asking you to sign the petition to encourage lawmakers to pass the Electrify Africa bill, to help bring electricity to countries who desperately need it -- for their economies, for their children's education, and for, literally, their lives. It only takes a few seconds to sign, and as you might recall, ONE will never ask for your money, just your voice -- so once you've signed the petition, that's it. You've done your good deed for the day.
And so, as promised, my favourite light-filled photograph. Obviously, I take a lot of photographs that are light-filled, but the one that immediately came to mind for this campaign was one that I shot with my iPad while I was in Malawi -- I didn't process or use a filter in any way. It's my favourite shot that I took on the trip, and a great reminder that it often doesn't take fancy equipment or Photoshop or filters to make a good shot. Often, all it takes is light.