Simple change, stunning change

Glance quickly at the photo to the right, and it looks like a lighted ceiling fan. Examine it more closely and you’ll see it is anything but. In fact, it’s an interesting story.

Recently, I came across a fascinating video that told the story of a man who literally brought light to the darkness by using discarded, plastic Pepsi bottles. That’s right, Pepsi bottles. It seems that in his native country, the Philippines, many people live in shelters with no windows. While the houses provide shelter, the structures have no interior lighting thus many Filipinos live in utter darkness.

Using discarded soda bottles filled with water and a shot of bleach, the man installed these makeshift “ceiling lights” through holes cut into the roofs. By securing and sealing the bottles in the roof, he was able to capture light from the sun and deliver it into the dark homes. Light, it seems, brightens when it runs through the prismatic water. The transformation was dramatic.

Not too long ago, I was in touch with Be the Changer Daniel Morgan (’10). Daniel, a sculpture major and a designer who has invested much time and energy in Uganda, is now working in Japan teaching English.

He writes: “… Japan is wonderful though, I am living in a very small town called Mino, in Tokushima prefecture. The town has 5,000 people and I am the only foreigner, so that makes for a very interesting experience. People have been incredibly warm to me, and I am so grateful for that. I love seeing all the interesting and different designs around and of course I love playing with kids so teaching is fun.

“There’s a coffee shop with Internet in the next town over (where I am sending you this email from), so it’s a 25-minute bike ride or so. Not too bad. I’ll email more later, I need to work on a presentation for the kids — trying to start a Ugandan —Japanese Art collaboration. We’ll see if it happens!”
Thinking Daniel would be interested in seeing the video, I had sent him the link. It seems that while was in Uganda he had installed some himself. Daniel’s attempt is what you see in the picture above.

Daniel writes: “I did like the link indeed! You are absolutely right it is clever design and very inspiring work. In fact, I saw this story while I was working in Uganda, and I installed some in a prototype low cost house we were working on at the time. They really do work!”

The simplicity of the design stands in marked contrast to the result. Within this small and simple innovation, though, is a huge lesson. When one considers changing the world, we often think of doing so in grand ways, but often it is simple and thoughtful changes that can have a great impact. A simple change can be a stunning change.

In other words, a lowly discarded Pepsi bottle, a liter of water and a great idea can change someone’s world.

Think about it.

To see the innovative use of old Pepsi bottles to light the darkness, check out this video:

You can find Daniel’s profile on JMU’s Be the Change website and more stories about Daniel and his life in Japan on his blog, which includes a slideshow. Here’s the link:


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

One Response to Simple change, stunning change

  1. Pingback: Simple change, stunning change « James Madison University's Be … | TEFL Japan

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