Where Most People Live Without Electricity, This Volunteer Shines
Richard Fahey brings light where nearly all of the people live in darkness after the sun goes down.
Fahey had served in that country – Liberia – in the late 1960s with the Peace Corps. He returned for a visit in 2009 with his wife, Suzanne, and a small group of other Peace Corps volunteers to assess the needs of Liberians as they struggled to recover from 14 years of brutal civil wars.
“Not having returned to Liberia since the end of my service in 1968, I was shocked at how much of Liberian culture and society had been lost as a result of the civil wars,” says Fahey. “I realized that I needed to do something to help with the country's recovery, most especially because many of our longtime Liberian friends who survived the civil wars had so little, while Suzanne and I had prospered.”
The sun is Liberia’s chief source of light. At night, the country goes mostly dark. Hospitals, schools, businesses and homes often lack light. Only two percent of Liberia’s 4 million rural residents are connected to the country’s meager electrical grid – and they spend a quarter of their $158 annual income paying to charge their cell phones.
In 2011, Fahey launched the Liberian Energy Network, to sell “plug-and-play” solar-lighting and cell-phone-charging units through a network of Liberian health care, education, religious and job-training organizations.