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Always at My Side - guest blog by Joe Balog

Always at My Side - guest blog by Joe Balog

I first came into contact with the heli® light it was called the K-Light, named after the Koinonia Foundation which I was interning with in 2010-2011. As a student of Sustainable Business at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan I was intrigued and motivated to learn about how the solar-powered heli® light sat at the nexus of next-generation technology and philanthropy. I was given one to play around with: I tested the solar panels durability, the connectors and the lights range. I was impressed.

Fast forward to post-internship and I was headed to northern Mexico to live in a community volunteer home serving the local students. Three local Mexicans, one Frenchman, and myself lived in the tallest building in the neighborhood, sitting at two stories, we could see over the concrete, dirty, littered, and smokey “colonia” that laid below. The heli® light served as our flash light to check on strange noises in the library, classrooms, and kitchen below our living quarters. In order to save money on our bills, I'd turn off the lights and turn on the heli® to study in our small apartment kitchen on old wooden tables. In the mornings I'd climb up to the roof where our water cistern was and place the solar panels to recharge the heli® as we went about our day studying, teaching and living with the locals. There were times when we would lose power and the heli® light helped us cook, clean and hang-out in the evenings. More importantly, I used the heli® light to charge my pay-as-you go phone, without which I couldn't be reached by my advisers, students or for emergencies. The heli® provided me with level of psychological security which I wouldn't go without now.

The heli® light has come with me on numerous short camping and hiking adventures. It was the perfect mate which could clip onto the outside of my pack, help me navigate the trails at night and illuminate my tent for reading. It truly felt like I was missing something if I didn't have it along.

The heli® light also proved useful on a 2014 philanthropic adventure to Kenya. Following a literacy expert as she trained teachers in advanced methodologies of teaching children how to read and write, the heli® was the perfect mate again in our living quarters that ran on solar. The solar in these quarters would only provide enough light for an hour or two after dark, so I would pull out my Heli from my pack and continue to work on video production for our project. Needless to say, it was also the perfect flashlight for finding my way to the bathroom in the Savannah. It dangled on my pack along with me on Safari in the Serengeti and while staying with friends in Nairobi.

Since 2010, the heli® light has continued to be as durable and versatile a solar lantern as ever and I have never considered buying a different brand. The LED bulbs have not diminished in strength and the connectors, with maintenance, are still sturdy. I've always liked how you could hang it or stand it up. Also, with a few quick twists its a flashlight or a powerful lantern. I highly recommend the heli® light, Koinonia Foundation and it's efforts to bring light where it is needed most.

Adventure on!

 Joe Balog


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