This month BuddhiBox subscription box sales support the Go Light Our World foundation. Founded by yogi Kayla Nielson, GLOW distributes solar solutions to impoverished communities around the world, which are otherwise relying on kerosene-fueled lanterns. We see each solar donation as a foundation for which recipients have the opportunity to build upon through their own hard work and responsibility thereafter. Kayla was nice enough to answer questions about the charity and what was the inspiration behind it.
Tell us a little about yourself, what inspires you?
I seek my greatest inspiration through compassionate service, travel, yoga, and creative arts. I enjoy surrounding myself with like-minded people from across the globe who are passionate about making a positive change through authentic acts of selfless service.
Do you have a favorite quote?
There are so many quotes that I love! Here a few of my favorites:
-“and when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard, nor welcomed. But when we are silent we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive.” –Audre Lorde
-“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.” Khalil Gibran
-“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”- Thich Nhat Hanh
-“If you want to go fast, go alone If you want to go far, go together.” African Proverb
You are a yoga instructor as well. How does that influence your organizations?
I teach yoga to elementary school children during the standard school year, which is an absolute blast. It’s wonderful to share the power of meditation, the use of mantras and positive intentions, as well as the physical practice with such young, malleable minds.
I also offer private lessons in my spare time between work. It’s incredibly rewarding to guide someone through not physical breakthroughs in the asana practice of yoga, but also through mental and spiritual awareness as well. Working one-on-one, or in intimate groups allows for a little deeper connection between student and teacher. Being an instructor has influenced my organization through the connections I’ve made in the yoga community worldwide. It has also inspired me to take my practice well off the mat, and into every aspect of my daily life and my organization, as well.
What is your favorite yoga posture? Why?
Downward facing dog- because not only am I upside down, but I have the overwhelming sensation of simply being home.
What song is on your playlist, that you cannot get enough of?
Songbird- Josh Garrels
Tell us about Go Light Our World
Go Light Our World (GLOW) is a non-profit organization diminishing poverty with solar solutions. We are dedicated to cultivating compassion for the Earth and all living beings through authentic acts of selfless service.
How did GLOW come into existence?
Initially, I started GLOW while I was living in Kenya about three years ago. At the time, the organization did not have the narrow vision of only seeking eco-friendly solutions to poverty, but actually very broad- focusing on entire community rehabilitation projects, skill training, and increased sustainable income (specifically in IDP camps).In my first year, I planned on implementing a solar project in the camps where I was working. However, I have an unknown allergy to insects there which ended up hospitalizing me repeatedly, until I was forced to leave the country. The specialists doctors told me that if i stayed, this sickness would eventually kill me. So, I really had no choice but to leave. Naturally, I was devastated, as I assumed all of my dreams were shattered- the remnants were scatted across the Motherland without even the hope of me returning to retrieve them.
I moved from Kenya to Asia for the following year, attempting to start a similar sort of project there- though nothing spoke to my broken heart the same way. I accepted the loss and death of my dream- I gave up.
It wasn’t until November of last year as I went through my teacher training that I was inspired to resurrect this vision, and pursue it fearlessly. Since then, I have provided light to 250 homes in Ethiopia, and I am planning to bring 1,300 more lights to Tanzania, Malawi, Philippines, and Indonesia within my first year of operation.
Do you have a mission statement or mantra?
My mission statement is nearly the same as GLOW’s: I am a solar-powered human dedicated to cultivating compassion for the Earth and all living beings through authentic acts of selfless service.
My personal mantra, which I repeat hundreds of times per day (or sometimes only focusing on one or two words from the entire string of them) is: “I am living an honest and compassionate life of PURPOSE, SERVICE, and overflowing LOVE. I face hate with peace, and I consume darkness with light.”
Tell us about the latest trip you took with GLOW. Why are solar lanterns so important?
I decided to shift GLOW’s focus solely to eco-friendly solutions to poverty, and even more specifically to solar lanterns for several reasons.Mostly, I believe in creating sustainable charitable projects- those which have the ability to function without the donor physically being present year around, and also those which do NOT rely on continual monetary donations.
Solar solutions to as a light source are wonderful because not only are they a healthier, safer, and cleaner light source than relying on kerosene lamps- but they also call upon an UNLIMITED resource for fuel. The sun. This component, alone, offers that undeniable sustainable element that I’m looking for.
The second leg of sustainability with our solar projects is actually financial. It is required that every household which receives a light also opens a savings account. Because each family is used to spending anywhere from 25-50% of their total income on their current light source (either kerosene, batteries, or both), they are able to deposit the amount they would otherwise be spending on light into the account. This way, after the two-year warrenty on the product is up, everyone can easily afford to buy another lamp from their small, weekly savings- without relying on continuous donations from outside sources.The solar donation is truly a foundational gift that the recipients have the opportunity to build upon as much, or as little, as they’re willing to do through their own hard work and responsibility.
How often do you deliver the lanterns?
Right now, there’s not exactly a set schedule or delivery that will repeat year after year. I’m simply trying to do as MUCH as I can, while also continuing to grow our community of donors, teachers, and volunteers here, as well. I brought light to Ethiopia in April 2015. I am bringing light to Tanzania, Malawi, Philippines, and Indonesia in December 2015-April 2016. Total- we will provide light to 1,550 homes.
How much does each lantern cost?
Because I always partner with local distribution companies, the price of each lantern varies depending on their individual costs. On average, including the transportation to the villages- each light is about $50.
What is coming up next for GLOW? What initiatives are you working on?
We have a ton of really exciting events coming up, as well as numerous projects! GLOW has partnered with Trilogy Sanctuary in La Jolla, San Diego to host monthly Sunday Sunset classes there on the roof. We always invite guest teachers who our local community might not otherwise have the opportunity to practice with, as well as offer prizes from sponsors, trunk shows, and live music. (See BuddhiBox Reveal video at Trilogy here.)
We are also going to be a part of the IG Getaway Weekend, by hosting a donation-based GLOW-flow (glow in the dark!) after-party class on Saturday, August 22nd.
And, finally, in October- we are leading our first Karma Yoga Retreat in Baja! Rivka and Nani will be leading the retreat, and I will be leading a workshop as well! Our entire staff is volunteering their time, so that 100% of the proceeds will fund our solar projects. As for the upcoming solar projects- they will take place in Tanzania, Malawi, Philippines, and Indonesia.
What is the biggest challenge your organization faces with this work?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced has been simply leaving fear on the back burner and pursuing everything full force. Once I was able to shed doubt, forgiving myself for the perceived failures of my experience in Kenya- I quickly discovered an ever-growing tribe of volunteers and supporters to help not only nourish this vision, but who also have helped it thrive well beyond my initial imagination.
What are 3 things people can do to help?
1. Our tribe of GLOW yoga teachers is always open to like-minded individuals who are interested in cultivating service within their community by leading regular classes.
2. Any and all promotion is always welcomed! Anything to circulate more awareness to our cause!
3. Any fundraisers (even beyond yoga classes) are encouraged! The greatest obstacle with each project is simply raising the funds to support the goal.
There is another way to help! Purchase a BuddhiBox and a % of sales will be donated to their upcoming projects. Visit www.buddhiboxes.com/subscribe-yoga to sign up.
To learn more about GLOW, visit their website –www.golightourworld.net