Mansi Prakash is a 20-year-old economics major from the New York University. In 2010, while visiting her grandparents in India, she saw many villagers going without lights at night to save money. Their incandescent bulbs burned out quickly, and led to higher bills, which they couldn’t afford. She immediately decided to buy energy efficient bulbs for ten families using her own money.
“Most families have light bulbs – they just weren’t turning them on and using them,” Prakash told TakePart. “For someone who couldn’t afford food three times a day, paying the high electricity bills was not an option.” She knew that if 60-watt bulbs, which worked for two months, were replaced with 11-watt fluorescent lamp bulbs, which lasted three to four years, will prove beneficial in the long run. While initial costs were higher, in the end, the swap would reduce household electric bill payments by 80 percent. “The family savings could easily go toward education or health care”, says Mansi.
She has since founded the nonprofit Brighter Today, and with help from the Clinton Foundation, has been distributing energy-efficient bulbs that are donated by electronics giant Philips. She also won a $20,0000 grand prize from Glamour magazine to fund her project. They have been able to bring cost-effective, eco-friendly, long-lasting lighting to 5,300 residents of the Behlana village near Chandigarh for the first time. She is also planning a solar panel prototype to bring light to homes without electricity. “I often think about a girl I met while installing bulbs,” she told the Glamour magazine. “She longed to go to school, but her parents couldn’t afford it. Once they started saving on their energy bill, they could. She is why I do this. It’s her life I want to change.”
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