In November 2019 we received this story from Elvis by email and decided to publish it as part of celebrating the distribution of the One Millionth Little Sun lamp. If you buy a Little Sun Original on our webshop between Dec. 6 and 8, you are in the draw for receiving the special Little Sun Original Nr. 1 Million. Shop here. You can find all our Little Sun Stories on Instagram. #1MillionLights
By Elvis Ndikum, Yaoude, Cameroon
I will begin by saying “I miss my Little Sun”. While attending my second World Conference on Tobacco Or Health (WCTOH 2018) in Cape Town, the mother city of South Africa, from 5-7th March 2018, I got in touch with Little Sun for the first time. It was during the memorable closing ceremony of the world conference in the presence of a special guest – the former Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg. The event was memorable because all 2000 participants were asked to switch on their Little Sun’s, which were put under the chair before our arrival in the hall. The message was a way of brightening the souls of people of the world towards making the world a better place by preventing tobacco use and cigarette smoke that kills more than 7 million people every year. Little Sun was offered by Michael L. Bloomberg and distributed for free to all participants.
When I saw Little Sun, I immediately thought of my grandmothers in the village, my mother, and other people in Cameroon experiencing darkness daily. I grew up in Akum, a small village in the North West region of Cameroon. With no electricity in our home, we used kerosene lamps or lanterns for lighting from birth till I completed primary education and left my village for Bambili, given that there was no secondary school in my village at this time. I had the opportunity to have collected 5 Little Suns thanks to the fact that most of the participants from developed countries did not express interest in collecting even a single Little Sun. I noticed only Africans like I got excited to have more than one because of our country realities. Upon my return to Cameroon, this was the best gift I have ever offered to close ones since I started travelling in 2015. I offered two of my Little Suns to my grandmothers’ village, I offered one to my mother, one to a close friend, then I used one for myself.
Though residing in the city, we experience the worst scenarios of blackouts from one year to another. In my neighborhood Messassi Nyom we have blackouts at least 5 days out of 7 days and mostly during the night. I am experiencing it in this very moment. Thus, I have regularly been using Little Sun since March 2018 till 23rd November 2019. Initially when I started using Little Sun in March 2018, I was so passionate about promoting the product in Cameroon given the interest expressed by family members I offered it to, but due to my busy schedule with work this escaped my mind. I had misplaced my Little Sun more than 3 times and had it returned, because I walk always with my Little Sun and sometimes when I expose it to charge in the presence of children they will think it’s a gadget to play with and collect it. When I ask for it later, they will remember and return it to me without knowing how important it actually is to me. Given the frequent blackouts we are currently experiencing in my neighborhood, I used my Little Sun regularly and would charge at least after every two days or every day. On the 23rd of November 2019, I placed my Little Sun as usual under the sun to be charged, but unfortunately that was the last time I saw my Little Sun again. Given that I exposed it outside and I live beside the road maybe a child collected it, thinking it was a gadget as usual. I am pretty sure I will never see it again.
After this incident, I have wondered if my dream of being a Little Sun partner and distributor for Cameroon and Central Africa was not to happen before the end of this year. Everybody that got in touch with Little Sun appreciated it because of its size and efficiency. During this year of using it and getting feedback from those I offered it to, this is a dream business for me in Cameroon as a young community worker and social entrepreneur. On the night before I misplaced my Little Sun, I returned home and before we arrived in our neighborhood there was blackout as usual and a discussion with my neighbor identified how this is impacting school children negatively. I felt touched because I remember in my ordinary level examinations in 2004, I failed only Human Biology with a D grade out of 11 subjects because on the eve of exams there was blackout and I could not revise when I woke up in the night that day. Today I am a global health expert and currently an air health trainer with the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA). I am training students, doctors, community health workers and other health professionals on the need to advise their patients on the effects of air pollution on their health, and how to mitigate the effects on their health. I have identified the need for Little Sun beyond being a social business, but also a tool to promote quality education for children in Cameroon and better health for families as well. Air pollution is a serious health issue in Cameroon today, especially with pollutants such as biomass fuels or kerosene lanterns used for lighting in rural communities, which are toxic, unsafe and cause significant health problems. According to the state of the global air report for 2019, air pollution is the 5th leading risk factor for premature death, accounting for nearly 7% of deaths (More than 13000) in Cameroon in 2017 alone. Household air pollution have been linked to increased hospitalizations, disability and early death from respiratory diseases, heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and diabetes, as well as communicable diseases like pneumonia in children.
I would have been extremely happy to share my pictures while using Little Sun, unfortunately I don’t have any at the moment except for the package and notice I kept it safely even after using Little Sun for almost two years.
Please if possible, could I be a representative and distributor of Little Sun in Cameroon. I would be happy to launch a social business for children and rural families around promoting Little Sun. I am sure to have more than 5 million potential users only in Cameroon. I can promote in other Central African countries if not yet available in the future. I will be happy to have my Little Sun again, but this should be accomplished by enabling more than 5 million people use Little Sun in Cameroon in the next two years.
From the Little Sun Team:
Elvis sent us this as an email in November 2019. The team is incredibly grateful for his story and is currently in touch with Elvis, to see about distribution options in Cameroon. Stay tuned! If you wonder what you can do to support communities living without electricity or potential sales agents like Elvis, see below!
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