Last week we learned that access to artificial light is critical for students and their families. Many of them do not have the ability to “work” in the dark because they live in mud-walled homes without electricity.
Because of our geographical location in the heart of Africa, we are limited to 12 hours of daylight every single day. The sun rises around 6:00 AM and sets around 6:00 PM each day. Many of our students are forced to use candles to study after 6:00 PM.
With this year’s class of interns, we decided to assess how 250 solar lamps that were donated last year were helping our community. After darkness fell one evening, our intern team visited two homes that were using the lamps to witness how they were helping these families. The site-visit feedback was loud and clear: A simple solar lamp is able to help families thrive in new ways!
Solid international development work requires careful follow-up and analysis. The developing world is filled with the graveyards of well-intentioned projects that ended up failing. We are working diligently, at both macro and micro levels, to ensure that Hope Haven Rwanda and it’s programs will outlive us all.
To ensure that we are on the right path, we frequently measure, analyze and evaluate our programs. For this specific project, we asked Will Williams, from Boulder, Colorado, to test some solar lamps that were returned to our Rwandan leaders. These lamps are very effective, and considered a very special gift, as you will see in this week’s video. However, after being used in the field for months, we discovered that some were inoperable. Will analyzed each broken lamp and then shared feedback via Zoom to the investor in the US who completed the initial purchase and distribution.
These lamps are subjected to intense “wear and tear” in this austere environment. They need to be impervious to dust, water, bumps, charcoal fires and, perhaps most significantly, tiny fingers that like to turn them on and off hundreds of times each day! After Will assessed all of the lamps that were returned to our campus, we decided to take the broken lamps back to the US for further analysis. Hopefully our research will help us understand the unique challenges faced in this difficult environment and manufacturers will be able to produce even better options.
At the end of the day, we rejoice in the fact that many families are being helped each night because they received one of these solar lamps. As an educator, I am also delighted by he learning that is occurring as our staff and interns learn how to do more effective international development work. This is just one more way we are working together to “let our light shine” in this vulnerable community!
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
(By the way, we are planning another solar lamp distribution in October. If you’d like to be part of it, let me know and we can talk about ideas. You may even want to join me in Rwanda to help distribute them!)