A new design project by Dutch social enterprise, Kamworks, is aiming to eliminate the dangerous kerosene lantarns from rural Cambodian homes. For a one time cost of $25, KamWorks is selling the Moonlight, a solar-powered LED light that people are beginning to use for night time activities. As over 70% of Cambodia is without electricity, these lights could be especially useful and reduce the risk of fire and improve air quality. Captured in this dramatic photographic series by Mathieu Young, the Moonlight can be seen hard at work providing night light for reading, studying, working, and cooking.
As Mathieu Young was traveling around Cambodia he met two employees of KamWorks by accident outside a guesthouse one night, who introduced them to their work and the Moonlight. Young was able to visit their solar powered manufacturing facility in a fishing village an hour outside of the capital, Phnom Penh, and then he visited families in the surrounding area who had begun using the Moonlight. As Young told us, “The families loved the Moonlight, especially compared to using kerosene, which was dangerous, expensive and smelled awful in their small quarters.”
Now at night, instead of relying on the kerosene lanterns for cooking, eating, reading or working after dark, they carry around their Moonlight or set it out in the room. The safe and sustainable alternative is helping reduce the risk of fire and improving indoor air quality, but at a cost of $25, most Cambodians can’t afford the simple little light. KamWorks is working with entrepreneurs in individual villages to set up a rental or loan system, where families can rent the Moonlight for 8 cents a day, similar to the amount spent on night’s worth of kerosene fuel.
KamWorks’ goal is to help rural Cambodia leap frog into solar and renewable sources of power without even bothering to set up a grid. Additionally, once a family can pay off their solar system, whether it is a Moonlight or a fully system for their house, they will see their cost of living go down, which is an even greater advantage. You can read more about KamWorks programs from on the NYTimes, but be certain to check out Mathieu Young’s stunning images of the Moonlight in action. The pictures were shot in villages around Kandal Province next to the Mekong River.
Images with permission from Mathieu Young