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A new hope, 40 years later

SolarAid, Thoko Chikondi. 73-year-old John Kasakula is seen at his house in Gumbo Village in Kasungu, Central Malawi on 30 April 2021. 

“Living in a village which has been without electricity for many decades, one easily gets used to the fact that certain things may never change, so I lost hope on having any other safe source of light except torches and homemade kerosene lamps.”

John Kasakula is a 75 year old farmer living in rural central Malawi. In 1979, John lost his home to a fire caused by using straw fire for light. The memory of that night haunted him for many years. To ensure that this would never happen again, John began using homemade torches and kerosene lamps instead of fire.

After living with this painful memory for nearly 40 years, John’s hope of a brighter future was renewed. Solar power was coming to his village. Our social enterprise, Sunny Money, introduced Project Switch, a project that aimed to light up every home in John’s village with clean, safe, solar power.

SolarAid, Thoko Chikondi. 73-year-old John Kasakula and his wife Mary Kasakula who carrying their grandchild Kondwani are seen at their house in Gumbo Village in Kasungu, Central Malawi on 30 April 2021.

“I have been a soya farmer for many years but I have been the most productive soya farmer since 2019 when I bought my solar home system. I have been able to sort my soya at night which was impossible to do using candle light.”

And it isn’t just his work that has improved, his health has as well. Indoor air pollution caused by smoke from using kerosene lamps is an issue of the past. 

“I used to cough a lot from kerosene lamp smoke. I was allergic to it but I lived with it anyway. I am happy that now I can sleep at night without coughing throughout the night. My wife, children and grandchildren are all safe.”

SolarAid, Thoko Chikondi. 73-year-old John Kasakula, his wife Mary Kasakula, and their grandchild Kondwani are seen at their house in Gumbo Village in Kasungu, Central Malawi on 30 April 2021.