Giving the Gift of Light (and a Cell-Phone Charge)

Outside readers love to lend a hand. Here, a longtime subscriber and former energy executive shows us how to take it to another level.

Rwanda Joe Hale Global BrightLight

Joe Hale in Rwanda.    Photo: Courtesy of Joe Hale

Joe Hale could spend his days lying on a beach, but he finds the prospect boring. “Retirement is a selfish act,” says the 63-year-old former Duke Energy executive and Nantucket, Massachusetts, resident. “We’ve spent years amassing skill, and that’s too valuable to spend the next 20 years on a golf course.” During a 2010 Colorado ski trip, Hale read a story about a Kenyan farmer who had no electricity and traveled six hours to reach a cell-phone charger. So, along with former colleagues, Hale, who ran seven marathons in 2005 to raise money for polio research, looked into it. He found that 1.4 billion people in rural areas have no electricity. Last year he established the Global BrightLight Foundation, which provides solar-powered combination lanterns and cell-phone chargers in off-grid areas. With help from groups like the Wildlife Conservation Society and local volunteers, Hale has run pilot programs in Rwanda and Argentina. Here, he reveals how to make a real impact—and have fun doing it.

KNOW YOUR PURPOSE: “The world doesn’t need another non-profit without a unique service. Unless you’ve got a different twist on an issue, throw your support behind somebody who’s already doing it well.”

From Outside Magazine, Oct 2012 Get the Latest Issue

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