The Gift of Light
By Jacob Moore, Volunteer
It’s 6:28 pm. The sun has set and you must spend the rest of your waking hours in darkness. The only option for lighting your home is an expensive, inefficient kerosene lamp that exposes your family to toxic fumes.
This is the reality for the majority of families living in rural Ethiopia.
Fortunately, there is a simple and cost-effective solution to this problem. Through the use of solar lanterns, families are able to have access to free, renewable energy that allows them to live healthier and more productive lives once the sun sets.
Before discussing the benefits of solar lanterns, it is important to think about how lack of lighting and kerosene lamps affect rural families. With no way to reliably light their homes, families are not able to spend regular social time in the evening after a busy day. Without lighting, school children in the countryside are at a disadvantage in their studies and may fall behind their counterparts whose homes are on the electrical grid.
Most significantly, kerosene lamps have detrimental effects on family health as they emit fine particulates, carbon monoxide, nitric oxides, and sulfur dioxide when burned. These by-products may result in impaired lung function, eye disease, increased risks of asthma and cancer, and susceptibility to infectious diseases such as tuberculosis. With the emergence of COVID-19 in Ethiopia, individuals with poor lung function are now also susceptible to severe complications if they contract the virus.
Solar lanterns, on the other hand, provide twice as much light as kerosene lamps and, once in place, cost very little to operate. The lanterns distributed by Project Ethiopia also have the capacity to serve as a charging device for cell phones. This added feature creates economic opportunities for farmers who can plan their future marketing by phone to sell when prices are highest.
Project Ethiopia has distributed nearly 800 solar lanterns benefiting more than 4,000 adults and children. This summer the Project Ethiopia team will make the largest solar lantern distribution to date to more than 500 households in the Dengeshta community.
This “gift of light” will have an immediate impact on family health and community well-being, especially now with the added concern of COVID-19.
To learn more about Project Ethiopia’s solar lantern project, please view the video below: