If you’ve looked at the main page of our website, you’ll know that we’ve been trying to raise money to buy one of the new laptops from Samsung that has solar panels built into its cover. We want it for Caroline Lentupuru, a fantastic woman you can read more about on our “GTL Team” page who also happens to live in a small dwelling without electricity in the Rift Valley region of Kenya . And in fact, we seem to have located one of these great laptops in Nairobi, where they are easier to find than in the U.S. and equally affordable (you can still help with the costs by throwing $10 or $20 in our direction on the “Donate” page).
But if Caroline’s case is particularly dire with regard to connectivity, it is still the case that just about everyone in GTL East Africa struggles at least occasionally with the vagaries of electrical grids. This is just one reason why East Africa is jumping so far ahead in the use of mobile phones for everything from dining to banking. And solar innovators are finding East Africa a great place to try out some of the new solar products that all of us will be seeing more of in the future. One of the companies we find intriguing is this one: d.light design. The company’s three solar lamp and lighting designs are all cost-effective, simple to use and easy to transport. Split between product sales and nonprofit work, d.light demonstrates the power of deceptively simple ideas to make substantial changes.
All of the girls and women we sponsor here at GTL start with incredible challenges: poverty, abandonment, histories of trauma, families hobbled by HIV/AIDS or injury. But one of the simplest obstacles we designed our program to address is the problem of lighting. A student who works and attends school during the day may have no daylight left for homework. And for many students, this means a steady struggle to keep up with lessons that too often results in a student dropping out.
GTL has chosen schools that provide safe, healthy and well-lit environments in which our students can live and study. And many (most?) of our schools make use of solar technologies of one kind or another. I look forward to talking with the folks at d.light Kenya and to some of the other fantastic people out there working alongside us to make the world a little lighter where it’s needed most.