Many parents in the U.S. worry that their children won't be able to get their homework done at night, but that concern isn't based on a race against the sun. Here, where almost every family has access to a reliable electrical grid and enough light to read after dark, mere motivation is the issue. But in Meru, Kenya, where Technology Partnership provides computers and computer training for students and teachers in schools, more than 85 percent of homes are still without electricity. Doing homework is a lot harder in the dark.
OK, so it isn't exactly pitch dark kids have to deal with after the sun goes down - rather, their families resort to using dim and smoky kerosene or paraffin lamps, or they keep wood fires burning for cooking and reading by. These fuels create hazardous conditions for young and old lungs. Poor indoor air quality puts people at risk of respiratory diseases, and ill health keeps kids out of school. The Meru County government website provides some statistics on the types of fuels used in the county:
In the photo above, I hold in my hand an awesome little invention created to give people an alternative to, literally, burning the midnight oil: a lightweight, inexpensive, weather-proof, rechargeable solar light bulb. These lights are made by Nokero (short for "No Kerosene"), a Colorado company headquartered in the Posner Center for International Development, where Technology Partnership is also housed. Nokero created its powerful solar light bulbs to combat the problem of indoor air pollution where electricity is scarce or unreliable. The solar bulbs charge quickly, provide light for hours and last for years.
Technology Partnership's U.S. Director, Barb Bates, has started taking Nokero bulbs to Meru and giving them to students and teachers at our 35 partner schools. Nokero gives TP a good price on bulk orders of bulbs, and Barb knows their distributor in Nairobi.
"Since none of our students and almost none of our teachers have electricity in their homes," Barb told me, "this is a great opportunity for them to have light at night to work with. They all work long days and have little free time to do their planning or even socializing; having an extra hour or so of light would be a gift of time."
You can give the gift of time by helping Technology Partnership provide more Nokero bulbs to our students and teachers. Donate on our website - or come see the beautiful Posner Center for yourself during the Fabulous 42 Formal on October 4th. We'll celebrate all of the partnerships that make our work possible and enjoy food, drink and entertainment, too. RSVP today!