Who We Are
We realize, for many of you, we are as unknown to you as any one of the faceless milions who reside in the rural countrysides of Cambodia. However, we aim to change that by making some introductions:
- Cambodia is located in Southeast Asia and sandwiched between Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Cambodia is home to almost 14 million people with over 80% living in rural communities, cut off from even the most basic ammenities many of us take for granted. Although progress is being acheived, hundreds of thousands spend their nights in darkness, risking fire and serious injury by illuminating their homes with burning torches or cooking fires. And yet, thousands of these same people, hoovering just below the world's poverty level, own a cheap radio or cell phone to stay in contact with the rest of their world.
- We are Ralph and Kim Lewis. We have made Cambodia our home for the last 12 years. Having learned the national language, Khmer, we left the modern amenities of the capital city for a more rural existence in the province of Preah Vihear - six hours (300kms) due north of Phnom Penh. We have spent the last 8 years involved in a variety of developmental and missional endeavors to include providing water sources, clean water solutions, bridges and translated materials. Living among an enthnic minority group has opened our eyes to the dire needs of people living without access to all that we, in the western world, consider basic human rights. With those stark realities staring us in the face, on a daily basis, in 2009 we built a mini-hospital to include a day clinic, beds for 8 sick and room for the K.U.I. School of Computer. NOW, we want to start a NEW venture but we need YOUR help.
What We Want to Accomplish
Many organizations and even nations, i.e. Japan, Australia and the U.S., have assisted dramatically in the fight to eradicate illnesses, provide schools and assist in development. However, due in part to rampant corruption and the remoteness of vast areas of Cambodia, many of Cambodia's citizens lack safe indoor lighting, options for basic electrical needs i.e. phone charging and access to inexpensive, and renewable power. We want to help and we want to offer you the opportunity to help as well, even if it is vicarious in nature. What CAN WE DO?
- Having developed a NETWORK over the years we've lived and worked in Cambodia, we now have links to a variety of organizations, operating all over Cambodia, with a like-minded attitude toward the empowerment of Cambodia's next generations. One such group, Plas Prai Center, provides housing, food and education for a set number of underpriviledged girls from towns all over the province of Preah Vihear. What Plas Prai understands, along with many others, is that their intervention is limited. With the ability to partner together and provide lighting options in homes with student aged children, we have now increased individual success rates exponentially.
- We hope to fund, develop and bring to fruition a business opportunity for several Plas Prai graduates in the renewable solar energy sector. Inexpensive components will be sourced in China, purchased, assembled and packaged locally to be distributed all over Cambodia via the above mentioned network. This will not be a reinvention of the 'wheel' but more of a traditional business model of providing a locally built, competatively priced product via local marketing channels.
Three products will be introduced:
- Home Lighting Solution: a single solar panel connected to 2, 3, or 4 rechargeable LED light bulb units.
- Home Electricity Solution: a single solar panel, charge controller, and battery unit with LED lights, a single USB phone charger, and a single portable electronics charger.
- Micro-Enterprise Solution: a single solar panel, charge controller and battery unit with LED light bulbs, 2 or 4 USB phone chargers and 2 portable electronics chargers. An individual can supplement their income by $40 per month.
- Additional solar electric products will be marketed: solar charged flashlights, radios, speakers, portable electronics, etc.
- Look at the 'Gallery' section for pictures of various lighting solutions.
By assisting in this venture, you not only provide continued employment for selected motivated graduates of the Plas Prai Center, you'll also be helping to provide low-cost lighting options for hundreds, possibly thousands, of rural poor across Cambodia.
What We Need & What You Get
Now for the proverbial 'where the rubber meets the road':
- We need funding. Nothing like stating the obvious, right? But, this funding request falls under the 'extraordinary' category in funding terms. 100% of the funds raised will go to lighting rural Cambodia: purchasing stock, purchasing capital equipment and funding marketing solutions. No salaries, no kick backs, no expensive travel accounts, and no expensive vehicles will be purchased with your donation. That's the beauty of this project: the existing infrastructure is already in place.
- We are unique in that our expertise, experience and access to local ingenuity resides in Cambodia already. You have the OPPORTUNITY to invest in the future of Cambodia by helping to provide opportunities for the rural poor of Cambodia. From the recent high school graduate looking for gainful employment to the recently divorced mother whose children need to do homework in the evening but can't. From the family of subsistance farmers living without lighting to the husband and wife who desire to boost their income by providing a battery charging service in their immediate community - you can have an active role in all of this by donating to this worthy cause.
What's the down side? None really. If we fail to reach our goal, we proceed anyway. This dream is too big to let one setback kill it. We just won't be able to take it to the level we desire to, in the time frame we had hoped to...that won't change the outcome.
In hundreds, even thousands, of homes across Cambodia's rural and poor countryside live men, women and children who exist at or slightly below the internationally deemed level of poverty. This means that their waking hours are spent surviving. There are no sources of electricity and if there were, they wouldn't be able to afford the ongoing, monthly costs of an electric bill. However, progress is happening all around them. Cellphones are cheap and readily available. Transistor radios are a dime a dozen. Cheap electronic devices are flooding the market but they lack one thing: access to the infinite resource of renewable energy found in the sun. You can make this a reality for families all across Cambodia.
You may ask, "What's my guarantee?"
- Twelve years of work and ministry in Cambodia.
- Multiple projects and initiatives implemented and completed.
- Access to verifiable, trustworthy orginizations with proven track records.
- Ralph's educational background, business experience and solar energy solution expertise provides stability to this venture.
Other Ways You Can Help
Some of you might not be able to contribute financially and yet you desire to participate in some manner. That's great! You can help by doing one of the following:
- Ask folks, whom you know, to get the word out and make some noise about our campaign. Maybe you know someone who'll partner with you to help us out financially.
- You can use any of the Indiegogo share tools on this site to get the word out.