Of course it isn't all fun and games for us. With Christian already on the ground in Nimule, we've also been taking stock of the situation there and thinking about and planning for this first phase of our work. Our most exciting discovery has been the breakthrough in solar-powered products designed for the developing world. We are thrilled by the products being manufactured by Tough Stuff and D.light. They're both impressive in their own rite.

For us, giving our kids reliable nighttime lighting would allow them to use the evening hours to study. We've looked into a full power system using a hybrid of wind, solar, and petrol, but the cost is jaw-dropping.

So let me say that solar lamps are one of those brilliant innovations for the developing world that replace an existing product with something more efficient, less expensive, and less dangerous. Many, many households in the developing world already use paraffin (kerosene) lamps to light their homes at night. If you have ever used one of these lamps, you know that they aren't especially bright, they can be irritating to the eyes, and they are expensive to maintain because they constantly need kerosene. If knocked over, they can cause household fires. In short, they serve a purpose, but they also pose a lot of risk.

What stood out to us about Tough Stuff was the durable solar panel, which is a separate from the lighting units they design. Tough Stuff has designed a whole complement of products, from lamps to small cell batteries, that can be powered by this solar panel. Even cooler, for distribution they have developed a network of micro-entrepreneurs who receive training to sell Tough Stuff products in their villages.
D.Light is equally cool, though their product line is a little different - their lamps have an integrated solar panel, so the lamps themselves are placed outside in sunlight during the day and then brought inside at night to provide hours of illumination.

In both cases, the products were specifically designed for conditions in the developing world (such as weather and utility), and their units retail there for less than $25 each.

We think that for us this could be the difference between spending thousands of dollars to power a home for 65-100 kids and spending a few hundred dollars.

It might make me an epic dork, but these are the kind of things that excite me and fill me with hope that we might live in a time when poverty could be greatly reduced or even eliminated altogether.

You should take a look at these two companies' websites and let us know which product you like better.