Jacaranda School for the orphans has partnered a renowned Kenyan non-governmental organisation (NGO), Sustainable Development for All-Kenya (SDFA-Kenya), to instill in pupils a new technological innovation.
The pupils are being taught to turn kerosine lamps into solar-powered lamps with the aim of distributing them to the pupils and disadvantaged villagers in Chigumula on the outskirts of Blantyre.
Jacaranda School is owned by a Cable News Network (CNN) 2008 heroine Marie Da Silva while SDFA-Kenya, a non-profit NGO, is owned by 26-year old Kenya engineer Evans Wadongo who is also a CNN 2010 hero.
The organisation adopted the â€˜Use Solar, Save Livesâ€™ programme as its main focus programme as it combines the three aspects of education, environment and economic empowerment.
Under the project, the school is being supported by Shanghai America School headed by its Mathematics teacher, Robert Burke, who mobilised $9 000 (K1.5m) from China to buy 300 kerosine lamps for the cause.
The Chinese counterparts also provided solar materials and other requirements.
In an interview, Da Silva said the coming of Wadongo to the school is a milestone because it will inspire the students that Africans too can also change peopleâ€™s lives.
“He [Wadongo] is a young African boy who has won awards. Usually, we get volunteers from China, America, among other countries, coming to teach our children. But this time we are having another African volunteering.
“To our pupils, it gives them more, itâ€™s helpful for them to see that here is another African who can do it too, rather than looking at people from outside. He is changing villages and itâ€™s very enriching for our students,” said an excited Da Silva.
In his remarks, Burke who came with a group of students from China, said they decided to come to Jacaranda after hearing good stories from the school some four or so years ago.
“This is a great project. This means that students can study at night. In so doing, they can improve their grades and go to good colleges,” said Burke, who added they fundraised for the project to buy 300 lamps, out of which 230 will be given to the students and 70 to the surrounding communities.
He pledged to continue with the project so that lives of pupils and surrounding villages can be transformed.
A 17-year pupil, Blessings Goliya, who was involved in the innovative technology was delighted that the project has finally come to their school.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to have solar powered lamps because this will improve our studies. We used to spend a lot on the scarce paraffin to light the lamps and this used to affect our studies,” he said.
Amos Burudi, an entrepreneur who was part of the delegation from Kenya, said in the country they also distribute the lamps for free to poor rural households.
He said since the project started in the East African nation, they have distributed 27 000 lamps for free. The group is now working in all the regions in Kenya.
To date, SDFA-Kenya has impacted directly over 100 000 people and indirectly millions of others.