It’s sometimes hard to summarize all the benefits that a simple solar lamp can bring to children living without electricity. If you’re an educator, you think about the role that light plays on children’s education by enabling students to prepare for exams and do their homework after dark. If you’re an environmentalist, you think about it in terms of an alternative to coal and wood burning and kerosene smoke. If you’re a feminist you think of it in terms of security for girls and how the light makes them feel safer in the dark.
The last one is especially true for Busara*, a Masaai girl living in a rural village in Tanzania. In order to get to school, she has to wake up early in the morning before the sun rises and walk 3 kilometers on foot in the dark.
“The Little Sun lamp brings me peace of mind, to me and to my little brother, too. We can now go to school on time and make sure we’re not going to step on a snake on our way there.” – Busara
The student also uses the solar light to read her favorite Biology book as it helps her make sense of her body and how it functions. Education is important to Busara because it enables her to gain knowledge and discover new things, such as how important trees are for people. “I read that they give us shade and provide us with oxygen,” says the girl. She adds, “if I could have any superpower, I’d choose the ability to bring rain all the time. This would help trees grow even more.”
Her classmate Darweshi* lives far away from school, too. Every morning, he has to walk a long way which can be scary when it’s dark. The Little Sun lamp makes him feel a little bit safer and he also uses it to get the goats in the barn when he is back from classes, as well as getting to the toilet at night.
“I like the Little Sun lamp but I wish I had more of them so that I can share them with my friends. This will help them prepare for school properly and improve their grades.” – Darweshi
In neighboring Rwanda, we meet Kalisa. She uses the Little Sun solar lamp to study to become a nurse like her grandmother one day. “I want to help children when they are feeling unwell. I’ll be giving them injections without pain,” says the girl and smiles proudly. But the thing she likes most about her solar light is the fact that it helps her get more sleep.
“I used to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to do my homework, and sometimes, I failed to finish in time for school. My classmates used to laugh at me because I was always sleepy in class. I like my lamp because I hate getting up early.” – Kalisa
As we speak with Kalisa and discuss the topic of school, she moves around the house holding the Little Sun lamp and helping her mother prepare food. The girl’s mother also benefits from the Little Sun lamp, as she gets to spend quality time with her daughter.
The mother is proud of her child, as Kalisa’s grades improved significantly since she received the solar light. But mainly, the mother feels more comfortable sending her student on her journey to and from school with her own lamp in hand.
Parents in Sub-Saharan Africa can rarely accompany their children to the classroom because it’s often long-distance and they are busy making a livelihood – whether by working on their farms or herding cattle early in the morning. Parents are constantly concerned about their children’s journeys to and from school, but them having a Little Sun lamp brings them peace of mind.
Of course, a simple solar light can by no means make up for the difficult life that these children often have, but it has a significant impact on their lives well after dark — whether this means lightning up their way to school, helping them to prepare for exams at home, or bringing their family together around the dinner table. Because where there’s life, there’s hope and a way forward.
If you want to give children in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Senegal the opportunity to have a safer, healthier, and more productive life and imagine a bright future, please donate today!
*All children’s names have been changed in accordance with the Little Sun Child Protection Policy.