Light bulbs are an essential part of our lives, illuminating our surroundings and providing comfort in the darkest hours. While lighting may seem like a basic need, it is a luxury that not all have access to.

1 in 7 people live with NO access to electricity. Our Chief Lighting Officer, Tom Enright, and a very brave, God-loving videographer traveled to Uganda to meet and work with a local Ugandan outreach organization. They traveled together, but alone, venturing into the unknown, a bold journey to Light Up Uganda's remote villages with Solar Lanterns. They were guided by a few emails, faith, and courage. The goal of this trip was to document and experience giving light to the children of 11 remote villages who desire a brighter future but live without electricity.GoodBulb LED solar lanterns

  • To determine if the GoodBulb "WHY" is worthwhile. Does it make a difference if you purchase light bulbs from GoodBulb?
team GoodBulb in Uganda

From the beginning, Tom and the GoodBulb team have focused on using their expertise in lighting to make a difference in the lives of others. The biggest takeaway from the trip was the validation that GoodBulb solar lanterns are a life-changing technology. 

Many communities rely on kerosene for light, which is incredibly dangerous, expensive, and combustible — causing fires, explosions, smoke damage, and chronic illness. Communities without electricity are using a light source that kills slowly through illness and quickly with fire.

the difference solar lanterns make, compared to kerosene

How can GoodBulb make an impact?

From Tom’s journal, he described each day's events and how it made him feel. 

“Driving into each village, the first thing we saw were worn down, garage-style shops selling knickknacks, liquids, and unhealthy foods. As we drew closer to the village, we saw hundreds of people waiting for us. It didn’t matter if it was 95 degrees or hotter; some waited for hours.  Getting out of the car, the crowd quickly turn into a party. People cheered and started singing and dancing. All the children ran to stare and greet the group. Many wanted to touch our skin — We were the first light-skinned people that many of the villagers had ever seen. Others fell back, shy, and nervous. But everyone was smiling gigantic, contagious smiles.” 

GoodBulb solar lanterns make a difference

Tom and the GoodBulb team quickly developed a routine for their visits. First, they were brought to a designated seating area. “It reminded me of an old royal court,” Tom described. “The leader of each community would be seated in the center, we’d be sitting to his left (it was always a group of men), and 5 to 8 other community members would be sitting with us. The rest of village would surround the kings court from all angles. The leader would introduce everyone, and I would let the villagers know why GoodBulb was visiting their community. 

tom meeting with a village in uganda

From there, men and women from each village put on a performance. Sometimes it was singing and dancing, other times a drama, but it was always in their native tongue. The stories told in the performances were ones of pain and “terror”: mistreated women and children, kidnappings, rape, and fire. Sometimes the songs turned to dirge-like melodies, naming various basic needs that are lacking in their community, like food, water, safety, tools, jobs, education, and light. 

When the performance was over, it was Tom’s turn to share his story. While the weight of what he couldn’t provide was sometimes crushing, he knew it was a moment to shed an ounce of hope - a moment to provide light when he saw so much darkness.

children using the GoodBulb LED solar lantern

It all started with a light.

Taking one of the GoodBulb solar-powered lanterns from their shipment boxes, Tom held it up for the community to see.

He shared the GoodBulb story, the core values that created the company, and the values that brought him to the current moment.

teaching people how to use solar lanterns

We believe in good causes. We believe in good education. We believe in good savings. The solar lanterns that we’ve brought here today accomplish all three. These lanterns will save your homes from devastating fires, they will save your eyes and your body from the smoke of kerosene, they will provide light when you don’t have the sun, and they will save you money.

At this moment, the audience jumped to their feet, cheering and clapping.  This happened in all 11 villages. The boxes were opened, and the solar lanterns were passed around to each family. Tom taught the villagers how to set up the lanterns by blowing air in and pressing the button. The response was immediate disbelief and joy! These children were holding a piece of technology that was going to greatly improve the quality of their lives.

GoodBulb at a remote school in uganda

“I have never seen anything like it, each time someone pressed the button, the lantern would light up — and their face would light up with it. There was laughter, cheering, and giddy chatter.” 

Village after village, together, they road this emotional roller coaster. 

GoodBulb at another village in Uganda

Tom shared the GoodBulb mission and listened to the stories of 11 remote villages, then he delivered solar lanterns to each family. 

In one day, Tom and the crew completed distributions in three separate remote villages. Tom said it was the most emotionally draining day he’s ever experienced. There wasn’t time to process and rest, so when it was time to move to the next village, they piled back into their old Toyota and hit the red dirt roads.

children using the solar lantern

While each day followed a general structure, there was some variety. Sometimes they shared meals with the elders, eating chicken, bananas, sticky dough, various meats, and fruits. Every meal was eaten with their fingers as utensils. Other days, they worked through lunch, listening, talking, dancing, and playing games with the children.  

Each time, Tom and his team were deeply moved by the happiness radiating from the communities as they shared the revolutionary solar lanterns. In between village distributions, the team would circle back to some of the villages. Tom wanted to see how the families used and cared for the lanterns. He discovered that most families had secured a place for the lantern to sit in the sun during the day, which was either where the women cleaned pots and pans or hanging from their huts.  One family left their lantern on the ground overnight and discovered that a pig had become interested in the solar lantern, chewing and breaking it. We discovered our lanterns are not pig proof.

families using the solar lantern

It was during these follow-up visits that Tom felt a renewed confidence in the lanterns’ ability to make a real impact. Kids at school swung their lanterns around, giggling with joy now that they were able to read after the sun went down. Their parents could spend THE SAVED money on food, clothing, books, tools, and shelter, rather than kerosene

kids using the solar lantern

It was these moments that pushed Tom and his team through the exhaustion, through the crammed Toyota rides, through the moments of grief — and the moments of joy. Grief because at the end of the day, many hardships remained. “They would share their problems, their pain, and they would look at me, praying that I could help them. That I would find a way,” he said. “It was a lot to take in.” That was a hard reality to sit with.

Tom knew there was something that he could do — something positive, something that would create lasting change. He saw it in the eyes of the school children when they saw the lantern for the first time. He saw it in the rejoicing, the singing, and the smiles of the women and men as they replaced their old kerosene lanterns with new, safe GoodBulb LED solar lanterns.

solar led lantern changing lives

“You can see it had an impact on their lives. You can see the lanterns will make a difference”

families using solar lantern

Fifteen days of travel later, Tom was back in Kampala with a journal full of notes and his heart raw with emotion.  For his last dinner in Uganda, he ordered the fish and chips, for the fifteenth time. He reflected on the last couple of weeks; what did this trip mean for GoodBulb? What was he bringing home?

The poverty, the lack of jobs, the inequality between men and women, the intense need for love and care – but also the joy of improved livelihoods, the resiliency, and the hope. That night, Tom wrote some final thoughts in his journal.

reading with the solar lantern

When I think back to the beginning idea... GoodBulb, we only had statistics about what kerosene does, but we didn’t fully understand how many people live without light. I’d only seen it on paper. Being here, it’s real.”

The statistics became more than just numbers. They were the villagers he shook hands with, women he laughed with, children he danced with. They weren’t data, numbers, or information; they were friends. “It was important to see in person that we’re making a difference. That’s what we’re coming home with. I am now confident, and I have seen that what we’re doing is making a difference. GoodBulb solar lanterns are impacting lives, and while they need so much more, that is a start.” 

You, our loyal, amazing customers, made this story happen. Each time you purchase a GoodBulb, you are supporting our mission to bring light to families without electricity around the world.  

With GoodBulb, we have an opportunity to buy a light, and be a light.

We need your help to make sure every child is living with light. Consider using GoodBulb lighting to light your business and your home, and with it, light another home in need. 

a school with the solar lantern




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