It was dinner time in Kampala, Uganda, and GoodBulb founder Tom Enright was preparing to order what he’d eaten every single night for the past 14 nights: a fish.
By now, he knew the drill. When the fish arrives, head to tail, you pick it with your fingers and rip the meat off with your teeth. Tonight, being the last night, Tom decided to “splurge”. He bought a beer to go with it for 4,000 shillings; the equivalent of 1 US dollar
Even still, when the beer arrived, he held it for a moment considering the money spent. How far could that money go for a family in need? What he had just witnessed the past two weeks was fresh, burning in his mind. The poverty, the intense need. And yet with it — and here, Tom shook his head with a smile — the intense gratitude, and the abundant joy. This was the first moment he had to reflect on the trip, and it was overwhelming. His thoughts drifted back to how it all began…
“It just happened.”
That’s how Tom describes the impetus of the Uganda trip. But really, the first inklings of a trip like this were woven into the very foundation of GoodBulb; the lightbulb company that Tom and his wife Tammy founded in 2015.
GoodBulb was born after Tom and Tammy experienced a life-changing medical miracle with their son — the type of experience that does not leave you unchanged. For Tom and Tammy, it was a challenge to live with purpose and to give back to the people around them in any way possible. Tom, who had spent decades in the lightbulb industry, decided to marry this passion for philanthropy with his passion for lighting: and GoodBulb was born.
Today, GoodBulb is a thriving e-commerce lightbulb company built on a mission to Be Good. What this means for the team is a commitment to ensuring good quality, offering good prices, and supporting good causes locally and around the world.
As there are still many third world communities without electricity, Tom and the GoodBulb team have especially focused on using their expertise to offer better lighting to those who need it.
This path is what lead GoodBulb to a non profit partner, One Million Lights who are actively bringing solar lanterns to areas of the world without electricity. Many of these communities rely on kerosene, which can be expensive and dangerous — often causing fires and smoke damage. As GoodBulb partnered with One Million Lights, Tom was interested in getting some boots on the ground to deliver GoodBulb solar lanterns personally. So, he gave them a call.
“Are there any villages that need lanterns right now? I can go,” Tom said. “As a matter of fact, yes,” came the answer. “There are many communities in Uganda that need help. We will get you connected with Step Uganda to arrange your visit.”
And just like that, the Uganda trip was in the works. It wasn’t long before Tom was packing his bags in Fargo, North Dakota, preparing for the longest airplane ride of his life.
With him, he took a videographer to help tell their story, and had a contact number for a man named Gando who would be their guide in Uganda. And of course, over 2,000 GoodBulb solar lanterns to be delivered to families without electricity.
The air was still warm the night they landed in Entebbe, Uganda. After gathering their things, the small crew drove into Uganda’s capital and biggest city, Kampala. They were met by their fearless guide, Gando.
Gando laid out the itinerary for the next 15 days.
“We will spend 4 nights in Masindi,” he said, pointing an index finger at the map. “This is where we will stay, because we cannot stay in the villages. It’s too dangerous. But each day, we will drive out to a different community.”
“They will be expecting you,” he said, nodding at Tom with a smile.
Tom was anxious, yet brimming with excitement. This, he thought, this is why we founded GoodBulb.
“From there, we will spend a couple nights in Mbale, and travel south. We’ll finish in Jinja, before we return here to Kampala.
From here, Gando lead them to their trusty steed; a 4×4 gray Toyota.
“In total, we will bring new solar-powered light to 11 villages,” Gando continued.
Then he turned to Tom and grinned. “Are you ready?