The Hill fundraising photo - thank you on Flickr.
This is the thank you card and certificate which we just sent to Georgia, a student at The Hill Primary School in Reading who has raised £16 for SolarAid. She did this by selling sunflowers to her neighbours that she grew in her garden. This is an extra special £16, because it is one of the many ways the wider community at The Hill Primary got behind their goal to help a school in Zambia afford solar panels to light their classrooms. This means they don’t have to rely on dirty, dangerous and expensive kerosene to give their students a chance to study for a better future.
Amazingly, The Hill has raised over £1000 for SolarAid to support this school in Zambia, and they have only managed this because so many individuals took it upon themselves to fundraise. And we think that is really special, which is why we will thank each and every one who has played a part, however large or small the amount raised. These individuals got involved because they are passionate about children in Africa getting a chance to improve their future through clean, safe, reliable light; and that deserves thanks.
So thank you, Georgia, for selling sunflowers.
To find out more visit www.solar-aid.org/lighterlearning
Sean Conway has just returned from a round-the-world cycle trip, raising money and awareness for SolarAid. Originally attempting a world record, averaging 180 miles a day, he was hit by a truck in America travelling at 55mph and fractured his back. Where most people would take that as a sign (or excuse?) to stop, Sean didn’t. Not only did he continue his ride, he managed to maintain an epic 140 miles a day average.
Having been a commuter cyclist for the last couple of years, those distances are so huge I can’t fully comprehend them. Sean knew he wouldn’t be able to realistically beat the record, so instead his focus shifted to his fundraising and awareness-raising of SolarAid. And on his return, he spoke about how this focus kept him going through some of the toughest challenges he’s ever faced. Just goes to show how much of a motivator it can be to align yourself to something bigger, something that makes a difference.
For all the facts and stats of Sean’s trip click here: http://cyclingtheearth.co.uk/my-blog/2012/07/cycling-the-world-in-figures/
Sean is raising money for SolarAid’s work in Zambia. Click here to support: http://www.justgiving.com/bike12
This is a letter from Amina, a 9-year-old student from a London primary school. She wrote to us at SolarAid, along with the rest of her class, asking us to help their link school in Sierra Leone with solar lights. Persuasive language and passion aplenty, the students have challenged our BHAG and reminded us of our need to tackle kerosene use across the whole of Africa.
For the full story click here.
Check out my colleague Victor catching up on his emails in the solar roller van while we were waiting to get access to one of SunnyMoney’s solarised schools. When you’re out on the road all day every day, emails are hard to keep on top of! Now that’s dedication.
Margaret is the director of Legacy School in Narok. It is one of the best performing schools in the county. It is also a private school (see here for an interesting article on the rise of private schools in the developing world: econ.st/HueqwX). She worked in the education authority in Narok for 20 years, helping to set up most of the schools in the county, before starting Liberty School.
Margaret has bought a number of solar products from SunnyMoney since the team arrived in Narok earlier this year. All of them have been sent to her mother in her home village. Margaret’s mother looks after two of her grandchildren. Initially the only light she sent was a Sunlite which has a 5W panel and one bright bulb. This was the only light in the village apart from kerosene lamps. The light attracted other family members and friends who live in the village to come over at night to benefit from the clean safe light. This was a problem for the two children because they needed to study, but couldn’t because of the noise. They would either not study at all, or still use kerosene lamps in another room. Hence Margaret sent a Sunlite 2 to her mother, so they now have 3 bulbs in the house – one in the living room for socialising, one in the kitchen for cooking, and one in the bedroom for studying.
Margaret went on to discuss the common result of having one light in a house – the father will use it, meaning the children cannot study with it. Hence while she approves of organisations which are giving away lamps to students, she believes they need to give out two because otherwise the students will not benefit from the light. Similarly, when SunnyMoney sells lamps in the student light campaign she believes we should be aiming to get more than one into each household. This is yet another issue for us to consider here at SolarAid, an important one. The impact of solar on education is difficult to measure even at school level, but home-use of study lamps is a major monitoring and evaluation challenge. More info on this will be available on SolarAid’s new website, coming soon.
Personally, I think the bottom line is to get more solar into rural communities. Whether it starts with one light, or ten, it doesn’t take long for people to see the real benefits of this technology.
This is Mr Sopea, Headteacher of Songoro Primary School in Narok, Kenya, testing out an s1 light outside. He was very impressed with how bright it was - as was I!
When we visited Oloikarere Primary school in Narok county, we had to wait more than two hours for the Headteacher and students to arrive. They had been to a games tournament at a nearby school. When I say nearby, it was 8km away. And they had to walk. So after a day of classes, the students had walked 16km and played sports for several hours. And yet they still managed to give us a wonderfully warm welcome. It was certainly worth the wait.
Oloikarere Primary School is in the Suswa Zone of Narok County, Kenya. The school has 50 girls who board and 200 boys who are day-schoolers. The school has a 15W solar system installed in two classrooms. The school community and parents raised the necessary funds to purchase the system, and it was an investment which is already reaping rewards. “Parents have already seen the benefits. They are very happy not to be paying for paraffin. The students are also very happy and excited.”
Mr Mahoy and the SunnyMoney team in one of the solar classrooms
Mr Mahoy knew that he wanted solar for his school. Some months before he had bought a solar lamp from one of the petrol stations near the school, and quickly saw the potential for solar on a bigger scale. When the SunnyMoney team arrived in Narok, he immediately set about gathering the funds.
Before this, there was no electricity. The school would provide paraffin for the students but it was very expensive: “We would use roughly 10 litres per week, and you know, sometimes the money was not there. Solar is there 24 hours. It has saved us lots of money”.
Students studying under the solar charged lights
Health-wise, solar has made a big difference to the students. Kerosene produces harmful gases which affect their eyes. “With solar power, there is no irritation and pupils are healthier”. There is also no smoke to get into their lungs. Plus solar is much safer. “Paraffin causes accidents. If the matchbox is used carelessly by the pupils, they might burn.”
Educational performance has already improved after one term. As it is only the girls who use the solar-lit classrooms (because they are boarders), for the first time in school history some of the girls got better marks than the boys.
The system is currently meeting their needs because the girls can study at night and in the early morning. However he is already planning to buy more systems. “I would like one for the girl’s dormitory. Also for my office – you can see, here I am, the Headmaster, sitting in the dark!” However his plans will have to wait some time until the parents and the school can afford it.
Mr Mahoy using a solar lamp to work in his office
My name is Faith Ikayo, from Ocharro location in Naork County, Kenya. I’ve bought a solar lamp called s10 which will help my children in reading longer hours at night with a cleaner energy than kerosene. Asante sana. — Faith Ikayo on why she bought a solar lamp
Half of the SunnyMoney schools team with the amazing solar roller (LtoR): Victor, Elizabeth and Paul