"It’s like a new life!" - Five stories
Fatuma is the third of five children in the Gesaw family. The family of seven lives together in one hut with three rooms. The living room also serves as a bedroom for part of the family. The father's business is nearby, directly beside the main road to Rema. Fatuma's father, Mohamad (35), deals in teff, a very old cultivated strain of Ethiopian grain which is the basis for the Ethiopian national dish known as "injera".
Fatumas dream is to become a doctor and to help the people in the countryside. Doctors are seldom in Ethiopia and the best of them would rather work in the town than face a hard life in the countryside. At a time when there was still no solar light, Fatuma did her homework almost always in the dark because she had to work in the fields during the day. "Now that we have solar energy Fatuma has sufficient light to read, write and learn", says Fatuma's mother happily. Fatuma hardly knows what leisure time is, but sometimes she plays with her brothers, sisters and friends or listens to music from an old cassette recorder which is now also connected up to the solar system. Most of the time, however, she must help her parents or she reads and learns.
Fatuma knows, "I still have a long way to go if I want to become a doctor and I will only succeed if I work hard." That means for her that she must finish school with very good final examination results. Although a child from a poor background, she would then also have a realistic chance of fulfilling her dream.
Head of community, solar village Chbar Chros (Cambodia)
During the first community public meeting after the installation of the solar systems the families could just not stop to explain our local partners how much easier their daily life became and that they were particularly happy to have the chance to contact them in case of any trouble.
The head of the community wrote in January 2016, two month after the installation: “When I walk through the village in the evening and talk to the villagers, I can see how happy and pleased they are with the new light. They say that the village is just like a proper town now because every house has light in the evening, thanks to their access to solar energy.”
Nene Armenton (Philippines)
In the small town of Taytay, Palawan, Nene makes her living by selling canned goods, drinks, candies, and other small items at her sari-sari store. Though her area is connected to the grid, the power supply is unstable and is cut for several hours each day, so she is used to closing shop at sunset.
With a solar lamp, her store is now brightly lit well into the night, enabling her to continue selling beverages and snacks to customers who now flock to her store. By staying open for longer than any other sari-sari store in town, she earns on average an extra Php 400 pesos (USD 9.50) per night—an increase of about 50% in her daily revenue.
For this mother of five children, longer hours of productivity are a significant, much-appreciated help.
Angelica Ga-ano (Philippines)
Angelica, a mother of two children from the village of Socorro, used to spend Php 10 (USD 0,25) per day on kerosene for her lamps at home. These lamps posed a substantial risk to herself and especially to her children, as they could easily be knocked over, starting a fire or spilling hot liquids that could instantly burn human skin.
She has been very happy to acquire a solar lamp, because now, she no longer worries about the safety of her family. She says, “no matter which part of the solar lamp my child touches, I am sure that no harm will come to him because the lamp is very safe.”
Bonja Belachew (Ethiopia)
Bonja Belachew is physically disabled. For many years he has sold the kerosene, which was needed for the small kerosene lamps which used to be so common here, on Rema's market. His business has clearly suffered since solar systems were installed here. Only the huts in the surrounding countryside still need kerosene. The inhabitants of Rema are no longer his customers. When we asked him whether he was sad about this development, he did not understand us at first. "No, no", he then replied, "I share the inhabitants happiness about this leap forward which Rema has made."
With his sales of kerosene he used to earn 45 birr (USD 2.50) a week. The work involved was enormous because he had to purchase 20 litres of kerosene at a far away market each Saturday. This was an enormous feat for a seriously handicapped person.
The Stiftung Solarenergie provided Bonja Belachew with a special solar device which charges mobile telephones to ensure that solar energy would not prove a disadvantage for him. With this device he can charge up to three telephones simultaneously. Bonja Belachew now charges eight or more telephones a day for 2 birr each. "I earn more now than I did before", says Bonja Belachew happily. "I would never want to go back to my old job!"