Friday, September 20, 2013

Akhil Singh brings light to more Indian villages

Akhil Singh, a Country Day senior, returned to India this summer and helped install solar-powered lights in three villages.

By Jeff Siner/

(I wrote about Akhil and his quest to bring villages light in an April story.)

He raised the money for an organization that installs the lights, called Light a Billion Lives, headquartered in New Delhi.

But instead of visiting villages as he has in the past, Akhil lived in them for two weeks.

"It was really humbling, but at the same time it's a whole different part of the world," he said.

He had to endure living with an old man who was convinced Akhil was trying to rob his village, getting sick once and quickly learning the colloquialisms of the Hindi dialect the villagers spoke.

"It was good material for my college essay," he joked.

But his trip was also enjoyable. Akhil said he liked the communal aspect of the village and how important family and community were to the people.

"You get the whole village together in the evening time, and you eat dinner together and sit at the marketplace together," he said.

Akhil has now lit five villages -- at a cost of about $3,500 each -- and is in the process of funding a sixth. He tackled learning how to fundraise and ask corporations for donations with no experience, but he's been successful: Since 2010, he's raised more than $18,000.

"The corporate fundraising turned around really well, and I may be lucky enough to get an additional three villages," Akhil said.

He'll continue his fundraising efforts this year and go to India again next summer to install more lighting.