We are very pleased to announce a new partnership with Solar Buddy, a Queensland born NGO that aims to end the devastating cycle of energy poverty for marginalised communities across the world. They are achieving this by educating Australian children about energy poverty, renewable energy and global citizenship and providing safe, reliable, effective and innovative solar energy solutions to communities who suffer from the limiting effects of energy poverty. Children in Australia learn the technology behind small solar powered light units and send shipments of the lights to beneficiary schools in developing countries along with personal letters from child to child. In this way, a learning exchange connects communities across the globe, while providing assistance and aid.
In partnership with the Ministry of Education in Ethiopia, KYEEMA will facilitate the delivery and distribution of solar lights to schools in2017. Battery replacements will also take place when required.
To gain an understanding of the impact of the lights on children’s lives, we visited a program at Katuuso Primary and Vocational School in Mpigi District Uganda run through the Australian NGO School for Life Foundation. The students in this community live in mud huts with no access to electricity or running water. At night they use kerosene lamps to study and do homework, often leading to accidents and burns as well as exposure to toxic fumes. Three months ago Gib Gate School in NSW sent the first lot of 30 Solar Buddy lights to students in Primary 7 at the school.
The staff and students welcomed our visit with great warmth and shared positive stories of how the lights are making their lives easier, along with other benefits of being part of the School for Life family.
Mama Flavia, the head cook at the school and parent of a Primary 7 student explained that her son is using the light at home in the nights to get sufficient homework done and she herself has also found the light useful for doing her own evening activities.
It was also motivating to see the school’s commitment to lowering its ecological impact through solar powered units to the whole school, pit latrines built with local materials to minimise water usage, ISSB bricks that reduce deforestation through the process of pressing and drying rather than firing bricks, use of organic and local produce to support the school feeding and animal husbandry programs, as well as biogas digesters to manage and utilize livestock effluent.
As we move forward with our new strategic plan in 2017 we hope to continue to partner with organisations like Solar Buddy to complement our village poultry development work with rural innovations that deliver research, training and impact for improved livelihoods and community empowerment. Indeed, a new bright dawn arises.