In 2013 Typhoon Yolanda devastated the Philippines making millions of people desperate and throwing them into darkness. Not only had they lost their homes, schools and hospitals, but also their electricity grid. Gregorio Lantao the mayor of Tacloban, one of the villages hit, said: “Now we have new hope because we have light. It is here and I can hold it in my hands.”

The project Liter of Light started in order to provide access to electricity for everyone with a self-sufficient solar lighting system that is ecological and easy to install. By putting together a solar panel, a battery, a handmade circuit and an LED and inserting them inside a plastic bottle, you can take light everywhere. Demi, an elderly inhabitant of Tacloban, tells us: “when we received this bottle we didn’t think it was very important, but now we can’t live without it!”

Illac Diaz, who founded Liter of Light kept the technology open source so that “it’s available for anyone who needs it. Rather than be the only ones to donate light, we teach those who are not connected to an electricity grid how to become self-sufficient electrical engineers!” Everyone can learn to repair solar lights and build new ones for their homes or villages. This is why the lights are still used today and are in good condition. And there are women who are making use of the experience they have acquired to produce new lamps and start-up genuine and sustainable businesses which help local economies.

With the help of the people who live there, the island of Iloilo has been completely lit. In seven months 7,000 lights were installed for domestic lighting, street lighting and to light the port (on which the main local business, fishing, depends), together with 1,000 solar battery chargers for cell phones. Fifty thousand people now have light again. And “light in a bottle” is spreading in many other places in the Philippines and beyond.

Liter of Light