Lantern Projects keeps helping the whole world from Piedmont

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Piedmont – Choose a country, any country, and Lantern Projects in Piedmont will likely help refugees, villagers, students and even animals there.

Many Maasai children, above, in Mondoli, Tanzania, cannot go to school because their parents cannot afford the school uniform required to attend. Providing uniforms for these children is one of many efforts supported by Lantern Projects in Piedmont. (Image via Lantern Projects)

The remarkable part is that no donation is too small to help. Lantern puts together a monthly list of numbered projects around the world. Donors helped pay for first aid kits in Kenya, bus fare and food in Malawi, chickens in Guatemala or lunches and school uniforms in Tanzania. A $5 donation is just as welcome as a larger donation.

“I wanted people to have the ability to know that they have made a difference with a small contribution. It is good to spark children’s interest in charitable work. A class at a school in Auckland learned that toothpaste is essential in a South American country, and they sent We have toothbrushes.”

“Our largest donation was $61,000 for a food and breakfast program in South Africa. The smallest was 35 cents, which could go toward the pencils of a student in Kenya.”

Almost every developing country has benefited from lamp projects—including Borneo, East Timor, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Honduras, Uganda, Swaziland, and Zambia.

Pro Sterile Indonesia, a small grassroots organization in Bali, is counting on donations of time, money and supplies for the animal sterilization programs it runs in villages to reduce the country’s regular population of about two million stray animals. Pro Sterile Indonesia is one of the groups supported by Piedmont’s Lantern Projects. (Image via Lantern Projects)

Translated guides are being developed for Syrian refugees who have fled to Jordan. Larger projects have provided a water well, beds and supplies for orphans, sewing machines, and a nursery building or preschool supplies. Uelkema said Lantern exceeded $2 million in donations in 2021, adding that donations have skyrocketed during the pandemic.

“People were very generous – (we received) over $200,000 in donations. People were home. They realized that other people were worse off than they were.”

The idea for Lantern Enterprises came to Uilkema in 2003. She was retired as Superintendent of the Piedmont Unified School District, which she had served since 1987. With a Ph.D. in educational administration and an associate degree in anthropology, Uilkema was attuned to the needs of people globally, as well as to her students.

Once the idea was formed for the charity, she says, “It took forever to become a nonprofit organization, very stressful, took nine months. Lots of forms to fill out. I have two board members and myself. I am the CEO, treasurer, and secretary. Donations go to the project, 100%.”

Uilkema works out of her home in Piedmont with two unpaid helpers. Early on, I developed an almost foolproof system of what and where villagers could help. You get information from reliable sources through Rotary International and some colleagues who make extensive trips. Only once in the charity’s history has there been a question as to whether the funds allocated have met their goals. Uilkema sometimes visits villages that have received assistance.

In Gaza, electricity is available for no more than four hours a day, but students need the light to do their homework and families need it to cook and do daily activities. Solar powered lights are a safe and effective alternative to using car battery-powered candles, kerosene lamps and LED lights. Lantern Projects in Piedmont supports organizations that distribute solar-powered lamps that have been allowed in by Israeli and Palestinian customs agencies. (Image via Lantern Projects)

“We introduced cement stoves in Guatemala, where I visited years ago. The whole village came out to express their appreciation. Families were lighting fires inside their homes, which was dangerous for them and their children, as the animals passed. The outside stoves were letting out chimney smoke,” said Uelquema. than homes and it was safer,” he said, adding that “Rotary had set up a school in Vietnam. She needed furniture and electrical connections, and he helped us with that. It was very interesting to see how the money was used.”

Board member Karen Friedman met Uilkema after a presentation Uilkema gave to Rotary and knew she wanted to help.

The Rotarians approached Friedman and said, “You should meet her and see her amazing work,” Friedman said.

“I convinced her I could help and became a board member about 10 years ago. What surprised me was that little things could make a difference. Lanterns in Africa enabled girls to do their homework at night. A small amount of money helps someone. Filigree is a cup of tea It’s sweet and meaningful. I feel proud to help.”


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