Ximena Prugue’s talk at TEDxFIU inspires us to consider how easy it might be to alleviate the issues of energy poverty through technological advances like solar-powered lights.

Energy poverty is something most of us here in the United States would equate with camping. But in other parts of the world it results in health issues, diseases and even death. In rural India, entire villages rely on kerosine lights at night and cook with cow manure briquettes  This creates a “lethal cocktail”, as Ximena puts it, of fumes and harmful chemicals which result in the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

Ximena was seventeen years old when she started a non-profit organization called Giving the Green Light to India. She sought out a vendor, raised some money and journeyed to a land she knew very little about with a friend and a bag of 250 solar powered lights. Her adventure actually led to her academic focus on mechanical engineering.  She is inspired by the ability to engineer a product or system that will ease or possibly eliminate energy poverty and she is eager to pick up her project where she left off when she graduates. Ximena understands that while this is a small change for the three villages she visited, it can have a profound effect on awareness and help inspire her generation to keep searching for solutions.