Little Sun brings light and livelihoods to Kiramira, Burundi
The Kiramira team and Mogens. Photo: Mogens Nygaard Petersen
Mogens Nygaard Petersen is the co-founder of Imagine Burundi-Terimbere and has been working with members of a small community who are selling Little Suns in rural Kiramira, Burundi. Here is his account, in his own words:
'The first Imagine Burundi-Terimbere team lives in the mountainous region of Kiramira in Burundi's northern province of Cibitoke. To get there, one must navigate virtually impassable roads. Because of its remoteness, Kiramira lies outside of the reach of most NGOs. But the landscape is stunning, with an indescribably beautiful panoramic view that can take your breath away. The hard-working people and the abundance of natural resources and crops like coffee, rice, and cassava all hint toward a prosperous future for the big mountains in DR Congo.
Pascasie Redi sells Little Suns from the Kiramira kiosk. Photo: Mogens Nygaard Petersen
The first Kiramira team comprises ten women and five men. When we met them in 2011, had been working with an ADRA Denmark project that to reduce gender-based violence in their community. So it was a perfect time for us to work with this group, who were receptive to learning and committed to improving their small community. We asked the team, ‘What will it take for you to really prosper in your living conditions?’ The answer came immediately: ‘We have many ideas, but we need some way to make an income.’
Then things moved fast. Imagine Burundi established the Kiramira team as an organisation, a legal status necessary to protect them from corrupt police in the area. We taught them how to manage their finances and guided them in holding organised meetings where decisions are reached by consensus.
A member of the Kiramira team weaves a Burundian basket. Photo: Mogens Nygaard Petersen
We investigated the natural resources in their area and decided to teach them to weave traditional Burundian baskets, which we then bought from them to sell as gift items in the Fund’s Imagine Shop in Bujumbura. Slowly, the team began to produce baskets and managed to earn their first income. They saved this money together as a group, and after only one year, they were able to buy a small piece of land that would yield crops and keep hunger away.
A selection of finished Burundian baskets for sale at The Imagine Shop in Bujumbura. Photo: Imagine Burundi-Terimbere
In 2012 Imagine Burundi bought 15 Little Sun solar lamps and gave them to the team in honour of their great results. The Little Suns came with a significant benefit – the team quickly discovered that the amount of baskets they could produce per week increased, as the Little Suns allowed them to work after sunset.
Women in Kiramira weaving their Burundian baskets. Photo: Mogens Nygaard Petersen
The Kiramira team structured itself so those who were older or less physically able produced baskets, while the young and strong farmed their land, earning additional money working for other farmers. And because of this money they have made through selling more baskets, they are now able to send all the children to school. The team is very proud of their accomplishments. Team Leader Pascasie Redi says:
We all have a past as IDPs or refugees because of the civil war. We were not human beings. We survived only because of charity. It was not a dignified life. A decent life is to be able to support ourselves and not be dependent on others for help. A dignified life is to feel pride. When Little Sun came and I began to sell them at the kiosk, it gave the whole team a desire for new challenges. We are so happy with this Little Sun project, which Imagine Burundi-Terimbere tells us is called a social business.
Kiramira team members build their headquarters. Photo: Mogens Nygaard Petersen
In autumn 2013 the team took another leap forward. They built a headquarters containing their office, a small meeting room, and a storage room. Additionally they opened a small kiosk managed by Pascasie Redi. The kiosk sells small everyday household items, and of course, Little Sun lamps. In only two months the kiosk has sold an incredible 20 lamps. I really feel the team in Kiramira is a succesful model that proves people in off-grid areas can lift themselves out of poverty, decide their own future, and fulfil their dreams, step by step.’
Little Sun On the Road: Zimbabwe
A Little Sun sales agent in Zimbabwe makes sure his lamps are charged. Photo: Edwin Sithole
Our new ‘Little Sun On the Road’ series features firsthand stories collected by members of the Little Sun team as we travel around the world with the Little Sun project working with our international distribution partners and Little Sun sales agents – all in the business of spreading Little Sun solar light. The first entry comes from Ali Ouedraogo, our Africa Business and Development Coordinator. He has been on the road in Zimbabwe working with our partners Alight Zimbabwe Trust since January. Here is Ali’s account:
‘I have rediscovered myself and what I can achieve’ – Darlington Guru
Darlington Guru selling Little Suns in Mount Pleasant, Zimbabwe. Photo: Ali Ouedraogo
I first met Darlington Guru last year. As a child, Darlington was sponsored by the NGO Plan Zimbabwe. He grew up in an environment full of adversity where uncertainty and hope sometimes walk side by side. But with the support of Plan Zimbabwe, he is now studying sociology at the University of Zimbabwe. He feels an urgent need to give back to his community.
Last March Darlington was introduced to the Little Sun project through Alight Zimbabwe Trust, an organisation comprised of formerly sponsored Plan children. While pursuing his studies, Darlington started selling Little Sun lamps in his hometown of Mount Pleasant, a small suburb of Harare with a low electrification rate. He organized small campaigns educating residents about the economic and health benefits of using solar energy, even recruiting one community member to help him sell lamps. Today, Darlington is the owner of his Little Sun small business. He makes enough money to cover some of his daily expenses, and – most importantly for him – he is giving back to his community.
Selling Little Sun lamps helps me cover transportation costs from my home to the University of Zimbabwe and has given me marketing skills. I have rediscovered myself and what I can achieve.
Members of the Alight Zimbabwe Trust team. Photo: Frederik Ottesen
Darlington’s Little Sun business is an opportunity to support himself financially while helping his community members acquire a reliable source of energy. He is currently making one dollar for each lamp sold – and the benefits of Little Sun are spreading in his community. Says Darlington:
The Little Sun lamps are helping the children in my community by providing them with light so they can study at night and become successful. But many other children in other parts of my country are waiting for the same opportunity – and I want to be there for them.
Darlington is now working toward developing his entrepreneurial skills and recently began interning in Alight Zimbabwe Trust’s office. He is learning sales techniques from other Little Sun sales agents and also sharing his experiences with them. The story of Darlington highlights the social and economic impact of Little Sun in off-grid communities. I hope to see many more young people like Darlington, whose commitment to give back and desire to explore all opportunities serves as an inspiration for others.
Little Sun in Uttar Pradesh, India – Part 2
The Gulabi Gang loves Little Sun! Photo: Karin Lerche
A couple of weeks ago we shared a firsthand account from Karin Lerche and Nanna Birk, graduate students at Denmark’s Roskilde University who recently completed their fieldwork in Uttar Pradesh, a rural and semi-rural state in Northern India. They brought a few Little Sun solar lamps along on their trip, hoping to distribute them in the predominantly unelectrified state. After returning home, Karin and Nanna wrote about their experience and sent us some beautiful photos. Here is the second and final part of their story, in their own words:
The Gulabi Gang
Our main reason for traveling to Uttar Pradesh was to follow the activist women’s group the Gulabi Gang. ‘Gulabi’ means pink in Hindi, and they took that name because the members wear pink saris when they go to protests or put pressure on a violent husband or a corrupt police officer.
The Gulabi Gang in action. Photo: Karin Lerche
The Gulabi Gang is led by Sampat Pal, who works with women from the lowest castes and tribes in Uttar Pradesh to build and enhance their livelihoods. We saw how Sampat is able to motivate these women, who not even are allowed to walk out of their own doors without permission from their families. The Gulabi Gang takes on many personal cases, such as domestic violence and the abuse of women and girls, in addition to working for betterment of the villages with roads, schools, and electricity.
Sampat Pal with her Little Sun. Photo: Karin Lerche
Sampat Pal is working to establish a minimum of electricity in the villages, but there is still a long way to go. Even if the villagers are able to each get one light bulb in their homes, it will be expensive. And it will still be a problem to walk around outside at night, as there are no streetlights. Therefore Sampat is very pleased with Little Sun, which she considers to be a good alternative that does not harm the environment as kerosene lanterns do and reduces expenses in the long run. She says:
I am very glad that Little Sun brings some brightness into these women’s lives.
Holding Hands with the Sun
Olafur Eliasson’s new article ‘Holding Hands with the Sun’ has been published in The Center for Global Health and Diplomacy magazine’s ‘Financing the Future of Global Health’ Winter Issue, out now. Here is the text in full:
Holding Hands with the Sun
We all know the feeling of being touched by an experience, by a poem, a book, music, or a work of art. Being touched gives you a jolt. It shifts you into a new place. You were there, an experience touched you, and then you were moved – you moved – and now you are here. You have progressed.
This profound experience is not necessarily about getting to know something new. Often when we are touched, we become aware of an emotional state that we already carry within us, something we recognise and maybe even identify with, but have not yet verbalised or gained clarity about. This is why looking at a great painting can be liberating. This is why a great book sometimes feels as if it is reading you more than you are reading it. And this is why theatre can connect our thinking to our feelings. This is what art can do. Art can be about getting you to treasure the dreams you have forgotten or to wake you up if you dream too much. It can be provocative or inquiring, or it can give you a much-needed moment of beauty. Art is involved, on a day-to-day basis, with touching people.
One of the great challenges today is that people far too often feel untouched by major problems in the world; they do not feel themselves to be part of the global community. The world is paved with indifference. We might expect the easy availability of information and data to connect people and lead to action, but this is not the case. There is a disconnect between what people know and how they feel, and, consequently, what they do.
How can we make awareness lead to actual changes in behaviour and help us raise the necessary funds to respond to global issues? Public awareness campaigns mostly leave me untouched because they either just add new data to what we already know or else attempt to manipulate me with condescending, emotionalist marketing strategies. Certainly it is important to present the data behind key issues facing the world today, but linking the two – knowledge and feeling – is necessary to mobilise responsible action.
It is important to have confidence in touching people, moving people. While Little Sun offers a practical solution to the problem of unequal energy distribution, it more importantly creates an emotional bond to the discussion: the feeling of being able to tap into solar energy. Think about it: I need some energy, I place the lamp in the sun, and I have it – I make energy available for myself. I become powerful. Little Sun is about the self-esteem gained from feeling you have resources and are powerful. It takes something that belongs to all of us – the sun – and makes it available to each of us. It’s not just about having access to energy – it’s about being strong. This is something everyone can identify with; it’s what everyone wants.
For me, art is about having an experience that is both shared and individual. We may disagree, but, fundamentally, we are experiencing the work together. A successful artwork builds a community where not agreeing is not only allowed but essential. We have to seek a language that allows for both being singular – me – and plural – us. When I talk about Little Sun as art, then, I am thinking about it as something that creates a community. Since Little Sun is available both on-grid and off, it emphasises what we share regardless of the fact that we may not have the same lifestyle, the same values, or religion. We still have enough in common. We all want to be happy, to have beauty in our life, and we all want to be touched.
Little Sun in Uttar Pradesh, India – Part 1
Karin Lerche and Nanna Birk are graduate students at Denmark’s Roskilde University who recently completed their fieldwork in Uttar Pradesh, a state in Northern India that has rural and semi-rural areas. They brought a few Little Sun solar lamps along on their trip, hoping to distribute them in the predominantly unelectrified state. After returning home, Karin and Nanna wrote about their experience and sent us some beautiful photos. As part of a special two part post, here is their account, in their own words:
Champa with her two sons. Photo: Karin Lerche
We met a woman named Champa, who is 35 years old. Her husband died two years ago, and now she is raising her two bright kids, aged seven and nine, by herself in Badosa. She makes her living by sewing and selling clothes.
Champa was very eager to show us how good both of her children are at reading. She immediately gave them a newspaper in Hindi, and they read one page after another. There was no doubt that she was very proud of them. She told us that she would continue to motivate them to do their homework. When we gave her the solar lamp, she said:
If we are lucky, we get two hours of electricity per day in our home, and it’s very unstable. The Little Sun solar lamp has made a lot of things so much easier for the whole family. My children can now study whenever they want to during the night. I also discovered that the lamp is a big help for me and my work. After my children go to sleep, I am now able to finish my sewing and stitching work because I have light. I am very happy with my Little Sun and all the opportunities it gives me and my children.
Uttar Pradesh is populated with many small villages that largely lack access to water, paved roads, and electricity. In some villages an electrical infrastructure exists, but there is no electricity in the cables. The public offices that provide the electricity are often corrupt, and villagers don’t have money to pay for electricity or any cash to bribe the officials.
The Indian government has created schemes to fulfil the needs of the poorest and most disadvantaged groups in society. Most poor families have ration cards guaranteeing them – in principle – a right to a certain ration of kerosene used to light lanterns in their homes. But often the kerosene ends up on the black market and is sold at a very high cost, so the families can often only afford to light a small wick in their whole household. Parents also express a lot of concern about their children breathing smoke from the kerosene lanterns, which is quite harmful.
Garib Das Gubda in front of his fruit stand lit by a Little Sun lamp. Photo: Karin Lerche
Garib Das Gubda sells fruit in Attara, where he lives with his wife and three children. Whenever we passed by Garib on the small street where we stayed, he would always be sitting cross-legged in his small shop surrounded by all his beautiful red apples and pomegranates. Even though the street was extremely busy and crowded, he would make eye contact, smile, fold his hands, and greet us with ‘Namaste.’
In Attara it becomes very dark after the sun goes down around 6:00 p.m. Only very few shops remain open, mainly those that have an electricity connection. Garib’s shop does not have electricity, so we gave him a Little Sun. When we passed his shop again some days after, we asked him if he had used the lamp. Garib spoke enthusiastically:
Now I can keep my shop open for as long as I want. I’ve got more costumers and more money for my family. Besides that, my family uses the solar lamp after I return from my shop at night. My children are using the lamp to study, and my wife is using it to finish housework. We don’t have any electricity connection in our home, so this little lamp has definitely improved things for us.
Little Sun lights up Miami
Artist Olafur Eliasson, Little Sun Director Felix Hallwachs, and friends stand in front of a Little Sun sales truck. Photo: Anastasia Loginova
Little Sun and sun-drenched Miami are, it seems, a perfect combination. Miami was illuminated by Little Suns last week during Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB) from 5–8 December. The Fondation Beyeler presented Little Sun at ABMB, devoting its entire booth at the art fair to the solar lamp and global project. Little Suns were sold from a local food truck parked inside the booth, in a playful nod to Floridian street food culture.
Throughout the fair, a second truck traveled around to ABMB events selling Little Suns as well as drinks. Little Sun lamps became the must-have accessory at the ABMB, and people were lining up at the Fondation Beyeler booth and Little Sun trucks to purchase the convenient and portable solar lights.
Former Head of Art Basel and current Head of the Fondation Beyeler Sam Keller gets interviewed beside the Little Sun truck display at ABMB. Photo: Anastasia Loginova
At the Initiative of the Fondation Beyeler, an Artist Talk with Olafur Eliasson and Klaus Biesenbach (Director of MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator at Large of MoMA NY) was held from 3:00–4:00 p.m. on Thursday, 5 December as part of the Salon 2013 series at Art Basel Miami Beach. The duo also had an informal discussion about the Little Sun project earlier that day at YoungArts.
Olafur Eliasson and Klaus Biesenbach discuss the Little Sun project at YoungArts. Photo: Anastasia Loginova
To coincide with Art Basel Miami Beach, YoungArts and MoMA PS1 presented the Little Sun project at the YoungArts Gallery. It was the inaugural project of the new space recently designed by Frank Gehry. A special Little Sun kiosk was installed which sold Little Suns, and 16 short films from the Little Sun Films series were shown.
A Little Sun truck on the streets of Miami. Photo: Anastasia Loginova
The presentation of Little Sun both at the art fair and on Miami’s city streets aimed to break down the boundaries between life and art and between interior and exterior spaces, giving local residents and visitors to Miami the chance to experience Little Sun and consider our shared natural resources.
Premiering as part of Olafur Eliasson: Little Sun (2012) at Tate Modern, Little Sun Films is a series of short films created by 18 young, internationally acclaimed filmmakers from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and South America in response to an invitation from Olafur Eliasson and producer Tine Fischer to create film material relating to his Little Sun solar-powered lamp. The films focus on local phenomena, detailed observations, atmospheres, aspirations, feelings, encounters, and social activities; they all relate in broad terms to life, light, and energy access.
It was an exciting week, and it was great to be able to introduce so many Miami fairgoers to the Little Sun project and the benefits of solar energy.
Little Sun connects schoolchildren in Monaco and Tanzania
A Tloma student and an ISM student meet in Tanzania. Photo: Laura Devere
Students at the International School of Monaco (ISM) recently embarked on a Giving Project involving Little Sun solar lamps. Through NGO the Asante Africa Foundation, ISM has established a relationship with Tloma Primary School in Karatu, Tanzania. Tloma Primary School is one of the top performing schools in Tanzania, despite being located on a remote, difficult-to-access road and having no electricity. Having a safe, reliable source of light – both in school and at home at night – plays a crucial role in students reaching their full academic potential. ISM knew that introducing the students at Tloma Primary to Little Sun solar light would be a great investment into their education.
ISM students make cards to send with Little Suns to Tloma Primary. Photo: Laura Devere
So the Giving Project began. To raise money to buy Little Suns, students at ISM aged 4–11 did extra work at home and created ‘chore charts’ to document their progress. As the end of the week when the chores were completed, their parents gave them between 2 and 5 euros, which the students then gave to the Giving Project.
A student at ISM learns about solar power. Photo: Laura Devere
The funds were used to buy Little Suns for some of the students and teachers at Tloma Primary School. ISM students also made cards and wrote personal messages to the Tanzanian students, which were delivered to the school with the lamps. Both the students and teachers at Tloma loved their Little Suns.
A boy receives his Little Sun lamp. Photo: Laura Devere
Students and teachers at Tloma Primary with their Little Suns. Photo: Laura Devere
Three Tloma students receive their Little Suns. Photo: Laura Devere
It was not only the students in Tanzania who benefitted from this project. The students in Monaco learned a great deal about solar energy, the Little Sun lamp, and how creative approaches can make a difference in the world. Jenny O’Fee, the Head of Primary for ISM, explains:
Our students were amazed by the possibilities that one Little Sun could give to children who do not have regular access to electricity. They loved the design and wanted to know where they could all get their own Little Suns! The students received information and saw a video about the Little Sun project, learning how the different ways in which we are creative can help solve real life problems.
This introduction to solar power in the form of Little Sun made an impact on ISM students, including 9-year-old Arman, who notes:
I think the Little Sun is very useful for people in different places. It saves batteries and electricity, as well as our environment!
Connecting different people around the world through sharing clean, solar light is what the Little Sun project is all about. Congratulations to all the students involved in the Giving Project.
Little Sun lamps in Abay Mado, Ethiopia
A young family is happy to have their Little Sun solar-powered lamp. Photo: Gert Jensen
Access to a quality education dramatically changes the structure of struggling communities, giving them a renewed potential. And having a source of clean, safe light to study with in the evenings – instead of studying while breathing the toxic smoke emitted by dim kerosene lanterns – is crucial for students to excel in school. The Ewiket Lehibret Support Association (ELSA) is an internationally recognised NGO active in building quality schools in Ethiopia.
Four years ago ELSA started a school project called Abay Mado (which means ‘on the far side of the Blue Nile’) which got to work building an educational complex occupying an area of 30,000 square meters. While establishing a literal foundation for education, the Abay Mado project is employing local residents to carry out the construction, introducing much-needed jobs into the area.
A worker helping to build the school complex receives a Little Sun lamp. Photo: Gert Jensen
The project has made significant progress. A kindergarten was completed in 2011 and currently supports 160 children. Under construction now is an elementary school for 700 students and a high school for 360 students, both of which will be finished in the autumn of 2014. Later plans include the addition of a technical college with an agricultural focus.
Gert Jensen is the chairman of the board at ELSA, and during his last trip to Abay Mado, he took Little Sun solar lamps with him to distribute amongst the local population. The lamps provide clean light for children to study, as well as for families to spend quality time together cooking, reading, or socialising.
A mother reads to her child by the safe, clean light of a Little Sun lamp. Photo: Gert Jensen
Jensen explains the the Abay Mado project and provides a first-hand account of the situation there:
The area is located about seven kilometers from Bahir Dar, Ethiopia’s fifth largest city. The distribution of income is highly unequal, both in the city and in the rural areas. Infant mortality and health problems are rising among the poor and general education is neglected. The number of schools is inadequate to meet the urgent demand. We have chosen to focus on education as a means to improve standards for the many people who would be without prospects otherwise.
Besides these problems of economic nature, the discomforts in the schooling environment create high dropout rates. Apart from us, there is little effort to expand schools, construct new schools, or renovate the dilapidated schools in the area. The schools do not have adequate facilities like toilets that are basic requirements. The school compounds are not clean and intensify the number of dropouts.
The area also holds a number of sad Ethiopian records: it has one of the highest infant mortality rates, the lowest age of women at first birth (under 14 years), high levels of maternal complications, and a high level of sexually transmitted diseases. Many women are alone with their children after abuse, servitude, or poverty, lacking the traditional generational family support that has been stripped away by war, drought, famine and disease in the past 50 years. The problem of the increasing number of unemployed people and of the problems of disabled people, in particular disabled children, also need attention.
However, the community is changing. The building of the schools is unlocking untapped potential within the area. As has been proven around the world, education holds the key to a brighter future.
Mulugeta, a painter in the city of Bahir Dar, paints by the light of his Little Sun lamp. Photo: Gert Jensen
It is the prime consideration of ELSA to see persons grow healthy and learning in a positive learning environment. As for the Little Sun lamp, the need is strong as most villages have no electricity, which means that the children cannot do their homework after dark. The reaction to the Little Sun lamps was one of joy and pride.
Little Sun is proud to be spreading clean, healthy light in rural areas without electricity, such as the Abay Mado project.
Harambee’s Little Sun challenge in South Africa
Harambee sales candidates before embarking on their Little Sun challenge. Photo: Susanne Ewenstein
Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator is a non-profit organisation that works across South Africa screening, training, and placing young first-time job seekers in entry-level positions in a variety of fields. Last week in Johannesburg they presented 20 of their sales candidates with the following Little Sun challenge: could they each sell 10 Little Sun lamps in one week?
The candidates accepted the challenge and spent a week selling Little Suns and employing a personal approach. They sold lamps to their friends and families, door-to-door, and out in Johannesburg’s city center. This sales exercise also featured incentives: the candidates would get to keep the profit of 35 South African Rand per lamp (about €2.60) and even receive bonuses if they sold more than 10 lamps.
The challenge ended last Friday, and the results were impressive. Collectively the candidates were able to sell 68 Little Sun lamps! Most candidates sold an average of between two and five lamps. The highest sellers were one candidate who sold 11 and another who sold an incredible 16 Little Suns!
Harambee sales candidates meet at the end of their challenge to discuss the results. Photo: Susanne Ewenstein
The candidates reported their most effective selling points: Little Sun is a one-time purchase that saves them the money they spend on lighting fuel; Little Sun is a safe light without open flames or toxic smoke; and Little Sun is a high-quality product that produces strong light. Little Sun congratulates all the Harambee sales candidates on their significant achievement of spreading clean Little Sun light within their communities.
Little Sun in Uganda: Interview with Helle Pasgaard
Two men in the villiage of Kamuli, Uganda are introduced to Little Sun. Photo: Pernille Bering
Our partners Energi Nord are a Danish energy company whose project ‘Lys i Afrika’ (Light in Africa) is distributing Little Sun lamps in communities in Uganda without electricity, where they are providing a clean alternative to toxic and expensive fuel-based lighting like kerosene lanterns. We spoke with Lys i Afrika project manager Helle Pasgaard, who recently took a trip to Uganda to visit some of these communities and get direct feedback from the people who are now using Little Suns every day.
What impact did you see Little Sun lamps having in Ugandan communities?
The solar lamps are having a great impact. I have talked to many people who told me that solar light has changed their lives. Many people are appreciating that the lamps save them a lot of money and that their children no longer risk getting burned by kerosene lanterns. An average family in Uganda spends around 300 Shillings (about €0.09) a day to buy kerosene, so they are significantly reducing their daily lighting costs buy getting a Little Sun solar lamp. This leaves them money to spend on other things like more food that is of better quality, schoolbooks, fruit trees, and so on. The fruit trees are important, because over time the trees will provide the family with fruits both to eat and sell at market, which increases their income even more.
In Uganda the price of kerosene went up with about 50% in the last 18 months, so the need for solar light – and the Little Sun solar lamp – has increased. Many people can only afford to buy paraffin for one day at the time, which means they must go to the local market every day and transport the small amount back home in small plastic bags. People really appreciate that Little Sun is a one-time purchase that eliminates the labour associated with paraffin.
In Kamuli, Uganda, Helle Pasgaard presents a Little Sun lamp to interested residents. Photo: Pernille Bering
How are people using their Little Suns? What can they do now with the lamps that was difficult before?
People are using the lamp everywhere – in their homes, when they cook or read. Outside they use the Little Sun when they need to go to the toilet at night or check on their animals.
Before they got the solar light, many people had to have dinner before it got dark just to avoid using the kerosene lanterns, as the light was too expensive for them. People also tell me that their food no longer tastes like kerosene, and that the walls in their houses no longer get black from smoke from the lanterns. They are noticing that the air in their homes feels and smells cleaner. And parents are reporting that their children no longer get red eyes or eye-infections when they are doing their homework at night.
A man receives his first Little Sun solar lamp. Photo: Pernille Bering
How do people feel about having solar light?
They are grateful in a way that is difficult to describe. One man told me that he was sure I was a guardian angel sent from God. That really affected me. The families we visited gave us presents or made food for us – food that they eat very rarely like meat. It was overwhelming that these people treated us like kings and queens just to show their gratitude for bringing this solar light to their people. They don’t have much in the way of material possessions or income, but they still wanted to give something to us just to show how much they appreciate our work. It touched me deeply.