The beginning of light education
It all started in 2019 when the community service centre alerted me of a work camp in Kwale. A work camp is a week-long activity designed to mentor specific schools in different parts of the country. It was my second work camp experience after visiting Kitui and I was very excited to continue the fulfilling journey of impacting young students’ lives. Most of the students were unmotivated and did not have a reason to keep their goals in check. We were set to return in 2020 to evaluate the students progress after providing study tips and guidance on career choices but this was not possible due to the pandemic.
In 2021 we had better luck and I was informed we were set to travel in July. Prior to July, I had received information from friends who lived in Kwale that the students struggled with electricity and mainly used Kerosene lamps which harmed their health and were very costly due to the increasing oil prices. After digging deeper and doing more research, this was confirmed by several reports and more community organisations doing on the ground work in Kwale. In May of 2021, I was privileged to meet the CEO of U-light from the UAE (Omar Ghanem) who was my mentor at a pitch certificate course I did during that month. After several interactions with him, I learnt the work they did which included providing electric crank lamps (u-lights) to underprivileged communities globally. They had done work with 1000 people in Nigeria and were looking to impact more individuals. I completed more research to see whether their product would be better than the current solar lamps in the country and indeed it was correct. They were much brighter, affordable and lasted longer. I reached out to him to see how we would bring this to Kwale county.
After planning, fundraising and creating awareness we decided to start with 100 students as a pilot to see their progress. This took roughly 4 months where we were able to fundraise $1300 for both shipping and the u-lights. The lights arrived in Kenya in August and we were unaware donations were taxed in the new finance bill. It took us by surprise and our goods stayed longer as we tried to find a way to clear them. Almost 1 month after the goods arrived we were able to clear them as the tax was paid.
On 24th September, a lucky day we travelled over 520km from Nairobi to Kwale with a team of 10 individuals. We travelled by night via the SGR train, arrived in the morning, had breakfast and headed to the school. Our plan for the day was to have a career fair as most of the students had limited exposure to the courses and universities in the country and afterwards we would have the lights distribution. The students were delighted and excited to accommodate us for the day.
We were happy to have brought impact to over 130 students more than our initial number thanks to the U-light who added more units as a donation from their end. We faced many challenges to bring the lights to the students but we were set to be ambassadors of light no matter the circumstances. We hope to continue monitoring their progress each term and to provide to more students facing the same challenge. If you would like to reach out to students in your community, please reach out to me.
If you cannot do an extraordinary thing do an ordinary one in an extraordinary way.
This article was written by Firdowsa Ali Omar, BBS, Financial Economics student.
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