|A Simple Solar Panel Can Transform a Life!|
Alone in the world, Josianne* was in her late teens and pregnant when she was rescued by Akany Avoko (a children’s home supported by Money for Madagascar). Though Josianne had no formal education, with guidance and support from the caring staff she flourished and grew into a lady with a hard-working attitude who wanted to give the most to her children. When the time came for Josianne to leave the home she was provided with a leaving pack including a small but efficient solar powered lamp.
Through Akany Avoko’s self-build programme she built her own home that initially consisted of 2 rooms built from mud-bricks with a clay tiled room, where she lived with her family. With the belief that an education would benefit her children’s future she sent them to school ‘paying’ for her daughters’ school fees by cleaning at the school one day a week.
In Madagascar, night falls at around 5.30pm and most rural homes have no lighting. Even paraffin or candle light is expensive as well as a strain on the eyes. This can make it very difficult for children to complete their homework. However, the provision of that one solar-powered light allowed her children to complete their homework every night. In fact, they did so well at school that the youngest has now jumped ahead by 2 school years.
“I didn’t get much chance to go to school. But I know education is so important. Soon my oldest daughter will take her Baccalaureate. I am so proud of her.”
In addition to her day job as a washer–woman, thanks to her light, Josianne was able to do some craft production in the evenings to sell for extra income. This extra income eventually allowed her to add a second floor to her home, so she now lives in 2 rooms with her family and rents out 2 rooms. Now Josianne can feed, clothe and educate her family and put a sound roof over their head. This is a far cry from the destitution she knew as a young girl. “As a child I had nothing. I was homeless. Now my relatives turn to me for support! ” She told us with delight.
This little tale is a shining example of how a little off-grid solar light – a healthy, reliable and efficient alternative to kerosene lamps, or candles – combined with an ambitious young lady can change not only one person’s life, but can have ripples that have benefitted her family years later. Its little rays reached far out over the years!
With tonnes of sunlight in Madagascar, capturing it to benefit local communities is no brainteaser. Off-grid solar technology comes in all sorts of forms – including lamps, phone chargers and even refrigerators. Access to such products would allow rural communities with no connection to the national grid to prosper. As well as being safe, efficient and environmentally friendly energy sources, solar technology has positive impacts kick-starting social, health and economic development. Children can study safely, families can listen to the radio or watch TV for information or entertainment, farmers can receive mobile payments securely…the list goes on.
This year Money for Madagascar’s Education for Life programme will supply solar power to 34 rural primary schools enabling students to do homework and afterschool activities and also providing a much needed solar-charging service to enable parents to charge phones and solar lights. Currently thousands of children are withdrawn from school each year in Madagascar because their parents can’t afford to the pay contributions to the teacher’s modest salaries. We hope that this new solar initiative will not only support the students’ learning in school but will also raise income for each school, which can be channelled into paying teachers’ salaries. This would lift a huge financial burden from the shoulders of struggling parents meaning that children can stay in school to pursue their education.
If you feel inspired by what a simple solar panel can and you would like to help us to reach more needy people, then please contact us or donate to this project.
* (Josianne’s name has been changed to respect her privacy. The young lady in the photo is another beneficiary of our programme.)