At the Lerato Children’s Home in Zimbabwe, schoolchildren do their homework in the evenings by the light of kerosene lamps which are widely used for lighting in rural areas of Africa where there is no electricity.
Not only does the low light damage the children’s eyes, but exposure to the kerosene fumes can cause toxicity if inhaled and may cause respiratory irritation, as well as being irritating to the eyes and skin, according to the World Health Organization.
In fact, acute and chronic exposure to kerosene may result in CNS effects including drowsiness, convulsions, coma, and even death, according to the WHO.
Kerosene is also an extremely volatile, flammable liquid that can quickly cause an out-of-control fire if a burning lantern is knocked off a table.
The orphaned and abandoned children and youth ages 3 to 18 who have been living at Lerato since it was founded in 2016 know how fortunate they are to have found a loving home operated by long-time Bread and Water for Africa® partner Margaret Makambira, executive director of the Shinga Development Trust.
At Lerato they have the basic necessities of life to be healthy and thrive, and are grateful to have the opportunity to go to school.
In the evenings after they have eaten their dinner by the light of a kerosene lantern, there is nothing more these dedicated students want to do is to be able to study and read – but under the dim light their young eyes are easily strained.
Zimbabwe is currently facing its worst economic crisis in 10 years. According to the International Monetary Fund, Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate from August 2018 through August 2019 was at 300 percent, the highest in the world.
This summer, Zimbabwe experienced what has been described as “an economic and social meltdown” with the Zimbabwean dollar in freefall and the Reserve Bank printing excessive amounts of money. Meanwhile, there are acute shortages of water, fuel, and electricity across the country where power cuts of up to 18 hours a day have destroyed daily life and what little is left of manufacturing. Residents and businesses are experiencing 18-hour blackouts daily, and Lerato is no exception
So what’s the solution? Solar panels on the roof of the children’s home, says Margaret.
Even the Zimbabwean government is seeing the light after earlier this year removing barriers to solar energy expansion by removing import duties on solar-energy related products – and even mandating that all new construction in the country include solar systems to address power shortages such as what is happening there today.
After partnering with Shinga to construct the Lerato Children’s Home, Margaret turned once again to Bread and Water for Africa® for help in having solar panels installed on the roof of the building ensuring that the children there would have plenty of bright light in the evening to do their homework, instead of straining their eyes to read and do their homework.
The cost is $2,700, a large amount of money in the impoverished country where inflation is rampant, but a small sum when considered what it will purchase – free unlimited electricity for the children at the Lerato Children’s Home.
Our goal is to raise these funds by the end of the month and we are asking you today to contribute what you can – it’s past time for the children of Lerato to be studying by the light of the 21st century, not the 19th century.