Time was 12 past midnight and I had just finished watching a really good and eye opening documentary on how big corporations are taking advantage of desperate women workers[from Mexico] in the US – Mexico border[as a result of a Free Trade Agreement]. All you can ask yourself is ‘how long such acts will continue’. Now, back to what I wanted to talk about. Turn on the light!
I was tired and all I wanted to do was lay down and get some rest. Well, that didn’t happen. Can you guess why? I didn’t think so! Immediately after the first documentary was over, a second one started and it really opened my eyes. It was a story of a young Italian/Malian guy who was born in Italy to an Italian mother and a Malian father. Just so you know, I watched it on PBS, and I love that channel so much because they don’t flood me with endless infomercials every five minutes. So, here is what transpired:
This guy went back to Mali – original home of his father – and started several projects. Most of them were aimed at improving the living conditions of the Malian people. The two most urgent issues were water and electricity. What he did was amazing and I will focus on the latter issue. With some support from a Physicist from Texas, he started building solar panels that would be used by locals. He trained a few people and within a few days, they could assemble solar panels with ease. A community that was used to fire during the nights turned into a lighted one with electric switches and solar panels on their roofs. Now back to my lesson.
I think it is a huge problem to most people that electricity was invented more than a century ago and yet they cannot afford it. But there is a solution to that. The challenge is: stepping in and ending the cycle of darkness. I believe people can do so much with light. The moment I saw that solar panel mounted on a school’s roof in Mali, I thought about my own community in Kenya. It is a reality that I went to a grade school without electricity. I almost graduated high school without seeing an electric switch in my classroom. All because of politics. What a shame! Do we really have to wait for an electricity provider to charge us thousands of dollars or shillings before we can have some light? I say NO to that!
Today, am out in search of that solution. What if my community had solar panels? What would happen to my former grade school and the pupils’ grades? I am very confident they will improve. Have I been ignoring this call? Can I make a difference in those people’s lives? The answers to these questions might be obvious but it takes a lot of thinking and self – seeking. The truth is, that it can be done! I can imagine what it will be like to have every family in my community in Kenya, every rural area and every house have lights. It will be a game changer. From darkness to light, I dream of that day. How much will it cost? Good question. I am very sure that it will be much cheaper than waiting for an electric company to lower the cost of their products and services: that will never happen – even after the apocalypse.
Finally, I know everybody can do this. It only fails when we expect others to do the job for us. I am duty – bound, am obligated to pull my own people out of poverty and darkness. A solar panel can do that. I believe it because I have seen it done in Mali – where the rate of primary school graduation rate increased from 20% to above 90%. What a change! When there is light, there is life. Join me, send me your ideas!
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