LIGHT UP A VILLAGE: A ROTARY CLUB OF ORINDA PROJECT. Headed by Rob Parker.
Before I became a screenwriter and a copywriter, I was a full-time promo producer at the BBC. I wrote, edited, directed and produced TV advertisements for their programs, as well as some original short scripted content. It’s something I still do from time to time for my own clients now, but never did I imagine it was a skill that would come in handy on my next vacation to visit my dad. And all for a great cause!
LIFE WITHOUT LIGHT
Imagine living in a village with no street lights.
After sunset, all you’ve got are the light of the stars and the moon on a clear night, if you’re lucky. The only other alternative is chopping down trees to make bonfires in the street, but if you live on a small island – that resource soon becomes scarce.
Now imagine how this would impact the life of your village after dark. Simple things that we take for granted in a modern city would be near impossible: visiting neighbors or going to a shop would be both hazardous and/or dangerous; community and social gatherings in outdoor squares or parks would be impractical. For all intents and purposes, what you can do, the opportunities you have, are severely limited after dark because there’s simply not enough light.
For the people of La Vallee, a village on a small island off the coast of Haiti, those dark, empty nights were a fact of life for generations – until this year.
MY DAD’S MISSION
In November of 2017, when I flew from Sydney, Australia to visit my dad in Orinda, California, a town outside of San Francisco, I was delighted to find myself a recruit in his mission to bring street lights to the village of La Vallee. It was an idea originally launched by Gary Wong at the Rotary Club of Orinda who then handed over the reins to my father. For much of 2017, Dad did the hard yards to make it happen; countless hours dedicated to helping bring a positive addition to the lives of villagers in La Vallee.
But now it was crunch time. He needed to raise funds to make it all happen and that’s where I came in.
CREATING THE VISION
Using my skills as a promo producer, I created a video slideshow from a collection of photos showing the village of La Vallee, its people and the installation of their very first solar-powered LED streetlight. Add to that some nice transitions, some local music and a voice over from Dad himself and voila! We now had the pitch video he needed. The next step – use it to convince some wealthy, well-meaning folk to fork over some dough at the next Rotary Club of Orinda Charity Auction.
A GREAT SUCCESS
As it turned out, my small contribution to my dad’s enormous efforts impressed the audience and helped raise the funds needed to complete the project ‘Light Up a Village’. In fact, other Rotary Clubs from around California requested copies to show their members, too. Fast forward a few months, and 24 new solar-powered LED streetlights were installed in La Vallee, much to the delight of the locals.
Here’s what my dad had to report:
“A village night market has sprung up under the lights, men gather to play dominos, children hopscotch from light to light, women hold a prayer group, fishermen use the lights as navigational beacons when night falls or storms arise, and for the first time, people have safely lit pathways after dark. By all accounts, the villagers are thrilled and delighted.”
Needless to say this screenwriter/ copywriter is proud to be the son of Robert Phillip Parker. My dad. My hero.