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Many women on the Kenyan shores of Lake Victoria have had to offer their bodies to fishermen in exchange for fish. Something that’s been called “Sex for Fish.”

Men mostly controlled the fishing sphere there. They could afford the tools, notably lights to attract fish at night, and women were left at their mercy with only one option if they wanted to buy fish to sell on at markets, reported Reuters. 

Morals aside, one of the major issues that derived from this Sex for Fish trade was an increase in HIV infections. This has led to the demise of many families in the region, further exacerbating poverty.

However, some charities and NGOs noticed this trend and found a way to help these women out of their terrible conundrum. 

Kenyan women receiving their first Watts of Love lights in March. Source: Provided by Watts of Love

One such NGO is Watts of Love. They have been working hand in hand with a renewable energy project launched under Africa for Sustainable Development Goals to provide lights to these Kenyan women. Other partners have offered boats, NPR reported, and with a combination of lighting and boats, these women can now fish themselves and say no to sex for fish.

How simple tech can affect lives around the world

Most of the time, we forget just how useful basic technology can be to improve people’s lives. But the U.S.-based NGO, Watts of Love, never did, and their work centers around one simple concept: light. 

By providing portable, solar-powered LED lights to communities around the world that lack electricity, Watts of Love has already impacted nearly 400,000 lives.

Portable Solar Light Helps Women Get Out of 'Sex for Fish'
Ruth in Uganda with her Watts of Love light and her vision board to buy a tin roof for her home. Source: Provided by Watts of Love

Supporting people from Nepal to Haiti, and in 49 other countries, founder Nancy Economou took a simple concept and turned it into an innovative, life-changing one. The team is literally “changing the world, one light at a time,” as its slogan says.

How exactly is it doing so? Through a multi-wear LED light. As simple as that.

How Watts of Love’s tech works

Produced together with Molex, a manufacturer of electronics, Watts of Love’s patented and UL-certified light is designed to be worn around the neck on a lanyard, or as a headlamp. On a full charge the light gives up to 120 hours of luminosity, and all it needs is sunlight to charge back up.

Economou drew inspiration from her previous work in the fine jewelry industry, and wanted “To create the Cartier of lights,” as Watts of Love told Interesting Engineering. And she did.

It’s lightweight, water-resistant, and durable. Its durability was truly put to the test by YouTuber JerryRigEverything in a bite-sized YouTube video, in which he proves just how strong this little lamp is.

Don’t be fooled by its size, it literally only breaks open if you use a hacksaw on it. And even once it’s sliced in half, the hardcore lamp still keeps working. And it would do so for up to 10 years, which is how long this lithium-ion battery-powered lamp is made to last. 

Imagine the impact an entire household could benefit from if they had access to safe lighting for up to a decade?

Watts of Love’s mission 

Nearly one billion people on Earth don’t have access to electricity. This leads to communities using dangerous kerosene lamps in their fragile homes, or simply going without light. This drastically cuts down working and studying hours, and puts people’s lives at risk from accidental fires.

Watts of Love’s mission since its inception in 2009 is to offer lighting to such communities so that they can improve their livelihoods.

Portable Solar Light Helps Women Get Out of 'Sex for Fish'
Alfred and Yosef in Malawi were able to study at night, improving their grades enough to go to university. Source: Provided by Watts of Love

Working closely with partner organizations around the world, the team trains on-the-ground leaders to explain the benefits of their LED lights to locals, which further benefits local communities as it provides new jobs.

These are just a handful of examples of how Watts of Love’s lights are supporting people around the world. Hundreds of thousands of lives have already improved thanks to one woman with an idea of how to innovatively use basic technology like an LED light, and a passion for helping others.

Being able to say no to men looking for sex in exchange for fish to sell not only keeps women in Kenya safe, but it also empowers them to earn their own money and provide a better life for their families.

Imagine if we repurposed all the other basic tech we take for granted, the world would be a better place.

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