Editor’s note: Saipan Tribune’s latest series features everyday heroes who are taking part in recovery efforts and assisting those in need after Typhoon Soudelor devastated Saipan.
“Immediately when I saw the aftermath, I knew that something needed to be done to help get Saipan back on its feet,” Blane Taisacan Wilson told Saipan Tribune.
The 22-year-old Stanford alumnus wants to do one thing this year for his home island: light it up. Wilson, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, said that one of the issues facing typhoon victims is the lack of power.
“My grandmother was using candles and a lantern to get around her house, and like many CNMI residents, she would not get electricity for months,” he said. “After speaking with my mother, I decided that we should send her a solar-powered light so that she would never have to buy gas or batteries, which are scarce and expensive.”
After further research on the matter, Wilson, who resides in New Mexico, came across LuminAID PackLite, a solar-powered inflatable light made specifically for disaster situations.
The light is waterproof, durable, and after being charged with only seven hours of full sunlight, can put out up to 30 hours of light, according to Wilson.
The device, he said, was used in past natural disasters such as the 2011 Japan tsunami and the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.
Now, Wilson is behind the “Light Up Saipan” fundraising campaign, which aims to bring LuminAID lights to the island.
“Through this fundraising effort, I would be able to bring LuminAID lights to families in isolated areas who do not have the means to buy flashlights, batteries, or lamps,” he said.
Wilson had already received tremendous support. United4Saipan, a local grassroots volunteer group, agreed to partner with him in distributing the LuminAID packs.
So far, Wilson has fundraised $1,425 of his goal of $5,000 on a GoFundMe page: www.gofundme.com/lightupsaipan. He plans on sending the light packs to Saipan by next week Tuesday.
“When I first watched the YouTube video that Sveta Hunter uploaded, I was nearly brought to tears. I had driven through most of the roads from the video exactly a year ago when I last visited the island and I could not believe what I was seeing. The aftermath was much worse than I thought it would be,” he said.
“After Typhoon Soudelor hit and listening to the stories of my family and others on the island suffering through its aftermath, I knew that I had to do my part in helping the island recover,” he added.
His family and friends from around the globe as well as Bosque School, Liberty Power Corp., and Ambassador Ali’ioaiga Feturi Elisaia from Samoa have contributed to the cause.
“During a difficult situation that affects everyone around you, the best thing you can do is to reach out and help your neighbor,” he said.