Say hello to Florence.
Florence uses a four bulb solar system to illuminate her shop, butchery & small restaurant (all part of the same building).
Although this building is connected to the grid- daily black outs constantly force her to close early.
Since she has begun financing her new solar system, the combined profit of her businesses brings in 2,000 ksh ($20) more every single DAY.
Because of this, she has almost paid off the entire system in just 4 months- rather than the projected 12 months upon installation.
Florences welcomed us under her roof with a toothy grin, fresh chapati & hot tea as she said:
"These lights have changed everything. These light have changed my life & the life of my children.
Who knew? From only light, our lives would now be like this?"
Catherine has been a farmer her entire life.
Before buying the solar water pump and irrigation system, she relied on a a diesel powered pump to irrigate her crops.
She spent about 1,500 ksh ($15) on fuel weekly, for about 4 months out of the year.
She was spending a minimum of 24,000 ksh ($240) yearly just to water her crops.
This cost could be up to 50% of her total profit from these same crops.
When i asked her what she enjoyed most about now using a solar powered watering system, she said:
"The solar pump is much more cost effective than using diesel. I'm making more money with each harvest, which means I'm saving more money to take care of my family.
When I have paid off the pump, then my water will be FREE. I never imagined something like this could be possible."
Agnes and her husband Steven have been farmer their entire lives.
Before buying the solar water pump and irrigation system, they relied on a diesel powered pump for watering their farm.
They spent roughly 11,200 ksh ($120) per month on fuel for the pump.
They needed to use the pump for about 4-5 months during the year.
This means, they were spending up to 56,000 ksh ($560) each year just on fuel for water.
This amount was over 50% of their earnings from these same crops.
When I asked her what she enjoyed most about the solar pump so far, she replied:
"The solar pump saves us so much money! We can save more from each harvest, and then we can grow our farm with the extra funds that used to only pay for water.
We were able to pay back the total system very easily because our farm is growing and thriving even more since we installed the solar.
Our animals are also more healthy because we can grow some grasses for them, when we didn't have enough money to do that before.
When our animals and our farm is happy, then we are happy."
Gikomba has been a farmer for his entire life.
Before buying the solar powered water pump and irrigation system, he relied on a communal dam and pipe system for watering his crops.
Although this water source was free, it was regulated and shared between many neighbors.
When I asked him what was the greatest benefit of the solar water pump and irrigation system, he replied:
"I can have water whenever I want! And I can finally reach all areas of my farm, instead of only harvesting on the pieces of land that are close to the dam and the pipes.
Before, I we only got water in shifts. And it was usually at night. So we had to stay up all night to make sure we could use as much of the water as possible- but it was still never enough.
Now, I can still use that water at nighttime.
But, I can also use the solar all times during the day.
I've been able to grow much more because I can produce on all of my land now.
This means we're making more money, and I can support my family in a better way."
Josephine has been a farmer her entire life.
Before she bought the solar water pump and irrigation system, she relied on a borehole to water her crops.
Although this was a free source of water, it was unreliable in that it was heavily dependent on weather.
The borehole was also shared between neighbors, and the use of it was regulated so that each household could only use it two times per week.
When I asked her what she enjoyed most about her solar watering system, she said:
"I much prefer this solar pump because water is always reliable. I can have it whenever I need.
When I have more water, then my farm is able to grow. And when my farm grows, then I can make more money from what I produce and sell.
When I make more money from the crops, then I can use it to support my children in school.
It's also nice because the solar doesn't draw up too much water. There is no waste like there are with diesel pumps, and even the borehole. It only uses enough.
This is why it's reliable, because there's no waste.
We are so happy."
Wayaso and his wife have 8 people living in their home, including six children- all of which are in school.
Wayosa and his wife are both farmers. Before they received the solar light, they relied on a singular kerosene lamp as a light source for their entire family.
They would spend about 30 birr ($1.50) every week on fuel.
Since they received the solar light, they are able to save 25% more of their income from each harvest.
When I asked Wayaso what the greatest impact of the solar light was, he said:
“After receiving the solar, I know I will only move forward. Why look back? Why ever use that kerosene again that eats my money and burns my eyes and my home? The solar is not just light, it is also an opportunity. We save small, small every month- and then I buy another solar to rent to other for small business.
More income, more savings, you see? Now, I am just here, but with this light, and these ideas, now I know more how to look ahead.”
Eneli is a single mother with six children in her household- all of which are in school.
Eneli is a farmer, and earns about 5,000 kwacha (just over $7) every week.
Before she received her solar light, she relied on candles and one battery powered flashlight as sources of light.
Because she lives deep in the bush, away from a central town- she would spend even more on new candles and batteries. Local candles last not more than 3 hours each. And she reported that she had to change the batteries for her flashlight on a DAILY basis.
Altogether, she would spend about 1,400 kwacha every week on candles and/or batteries.
This means she was spending 28% of her income just to have light in her home.
When I asked Eneli what the greatest benefit of the solar was in her household, she said:
"Now with this light I can save more money that- before- I did not know I was spending so easy. This savings can help me buy more food for my children. We have two meals EVERY day now!
My children study every night- no more sleeping early with the darkness. They read, and learn now, instead.
This light is light a new beginning for me and my family. It is a new start. We have chance now to save, and learn, and live without fear of fires and burns.
Thank you for this new chance. Thank you for believing in a new start for us. Now I believe more than anything is possible.”
Rizza is a single mother with four children- all of which are in school.
When I asked Rizza the greatest impact of the solar light she received from our Pay-It-Forward Solar Program just two weeks after the distribution, she said:
“My son, he has this problem, you see? He was born this way. His face is somehow different. When we use the kerosene for everything, it hurts all of our eyes, our chests- we cough so much.But for him, it is worse. He can get infection. He feels so much more pain from this smoke. And we don’t have a doctor here, you see?
Sometimes he doesn’t go to school for many weeks. And he loves to learn! This boy, he can read and write- you can see! He is very bright. But when he studies, he must use kerosene, which causes pain and sometimes sickness, you see?
He falls behind in school, and maybe he even has to drop out.
But now, with the this solar- he is so healthy. Every night, reading and writing, you see? All the children use just one light. It’s so strong! Strong light! They are happy.
And when they are happy, and they are healthy- then I am feeling full.”
Ricardo and his wife only have three people living in their home, and no children in the household. All of their children are in a boarding secondary school in Mondragon (the nearest town).
They have currently purchased three solar lights through the Pay-it-Forward Solar Program.
Ricardo and his wife are both farmers. Ricardo also owns a small shop in their village, as well.
Collectively, they earn about 3,000 pesos ($60) per week.
Before they joined the program, they relied on kerosene lamps as a light source in their home and in their shop.
They would pay about 250 pesos ($5) every week on the fuel.
Once they received their first solar light, they were able to eliminate the use of kerosene fuel in their shop. The new light also allowed them to stay open later, and they paid back the total cost of the light well before the suggested 6-month period.
Once their first light was paid off, they joined the program again for the second light. They sent this light to Mondragon with their children who are studying in secondary school. Although the children live in a boarding school in town, there is no electricity in their household.
After they paid off their second light, they signed up for a third and final light. They use this light both in the household and in the farm.
When I asked them what they thought the greatest benefit of the solar light was, Ricardo said:
“This light has helped us so much because we can now earn more. The shop can stay open as late as we want, and we sell more this way. We also use it to farm at nighttime, when it’s not so hot.
This is better because we don’t get tired as fast as we do when we work in the sun. We can get more done, and then we earn more with the harvest.”
Albert Dela Rosa
Albert and his wife have seven people living in their home, including 5 children- 4 of which are in school.
They are both farmers, and they earn about 8,000 pesos ($160) per harvest (2 – 3 times per year). This works out to about 2,000 pesos ($40) per month.
Before they joined the Pay-It-Forward Solar Program, they relied on kerosene lamps as light source, and they would spend about 120 pesos ($2.50) every week to buy the fuel.
This nearly HALF of their monthly income.
Once they received their solar light, they have eliminated the use of kerosene lamps in their home completely. They have already paid back the total cost of the solar light in full before the suggested 6 month period.
When I asked them what they thought the greatest benefit of the solar light in their household, Albert said:
“We are so happy we joined this program. Now that we have this solar light, we feel good in our health, because there’s no more smoke always burning our eyes and our lungs (patting his chest). This light is more safe for us, because we have small children.
Now, we don’t need to watch them if they are just studying or reading, because we have no fear of them getting burned. We can all do what we want to do in the home with just one light.”
Annalisa and her husband have five people living in their home, including three children- all of which are in school.
Annalisa and her husband are both farmers. She also runs a small sari-sari shop in the village, as well.
Collectively, they earn between 2,500 – 3,000 pesos ($50 – $60) every week.
Before joining the Pay-It-Forward Solar Program, they relied on kerosene lamps as a light source. They would spend between 180 – 200 pesos ($3.50 – $4) every week on fuel.
Once they received their solar light, they have been able to reduce their use of kerosene lamps as a light source. Before, they used three lamps. Now, they only occasionally use one.
Once their first solar light is paid off, they plan to sign up for the program again to get another in an effort to completely eliminate the use of kerosene in their home and in their shop.
Their family uses the solar light in their home for regular nighttime activities, and also in the shop, as well.
When I asked Annalisa what she thought the greatest benefit of the solar light was, she said:
“This light has helped us save more. We can use it in the shop now and stay open as long as we want. Then we have more sales, and earn more. When the shop is closed, I also use the light to hunt frogs, fish, and find prawn.
This is good for us to eat, and also good for us to sell. So, you see? We are always earning more from this light.
Once we have paid everything, we will definitely get another one so we can keep earning and saving more. When we have two, then we won’t need any kerosene. This will also help us to save more.”
Jeadeline has six people living in her home, including four children- all of which are in school.
Her and her husband are both farmers, and earn about 2,000 – 3,000 pesos ($40 – $60) per month.
Before joining our Pay-It-Forward Solar Program, they were spending 150 pesos ($3) every week on kerosene fuel for light.
That’s 20% of their monthly income.
Once they received their solar light, they were able to pay back the total cost of the lamp easily since they no longer needed to pay for kerosene.
In fact, they paid it back even faster than the program’s suggested 6 month period.
Now that their lamp is paid back in full, their source of light is completely FREE. And they are able to save 20% more every month for other household needs.
When I asked Jeadeline if she was happy with her choice to join the Pay-It-Forward Solar Program, she said:
“Yes, I am very happy. Joining this program changed the way we live in the house when it’s dark. And now that we see we can pay back the cost of the light easily, we are going to get another one so we can also farm at nighttime when it’s not so hot.
If we have another light to farm at night, then we can earn even more. When we earn more, we can save more. And all of our children can have the education that they want. If they want to go to college now, we can send them.”
Walter and his wife have 10 people living in their home, including 5 children- all of which are currently in school.
They are both farmers, and Walter is also a painter and boda-boda (motorbike) driver. Collectively, they bring in about 10,000 ksh ($100) every month.
Before their solar system was installed, they were relying on another singular solar lamp from another company in town.
They paid installments of 400 ksh ($4) every month, for 12 months until they owned the light.
Although this light source was not a huge financial burden for them, they still struggled to share only one lamp between the 10 people living in their home.
When I asked Walter if he was happy about his choice to replace that singular light with an entire system from our Solar Center, he said:
“I am very very VERY happy. I would not change my mind about this decision anytime. We enjoy this system so much more because now we can all do the things we need to do even if it’s night time. The darkness does not affect us anymore, you see?
We enjoy this solar system so much because the light quality is higher. Everything is BRIGHT, all the time- BRIGHT. Because we have a complete system now, there is more security for our home because of the brightness. When we had only one bulb, it was good, but it was not enough for all of us.
The children are very happy because they no longer have to fight for this one light, you see? And this makes me happy too. To see them succeed in school.”
Say hello to Charity.
Her solar system was installed in October 2016.
Not only has she fully replaced her usage of kerosene lamps, but she's even able to SAVE up to 1,000 ksh (about $10) monthly as she pays for her system using the Pay-As-You-Go method.
Charity was so thrilled to have access to clean, green & limitless light that she said:
"Next time you come back, I will slaughter a goat for you to give thanks."
The members of my team laughed as they tried to explain that I'm vegan- a completely foreign concept in a place where eating meat is actually a luxury.
Understanding, she offered instead to douse me in Masaai jewels so that I could be an honorary member of their tribe.
Charity's last words before we left were:
"Karibu sana (you are very welcome) always goddess of light."