Goodwell, One Year On

Goodwell and his family enjoy their ebe

Just a year ago when we met Goodwell Kongalwa from Ntchisi, Malawi, for the first time, he was still recovering from a fire that took nearly everything from his family. Selling his livestock allowed him to rebuild his home, but shortage of clean, safe light still caused pain for his family. 

One year later, Goodwell tells a completely different story. 

Goodwell’s home is just off the main road tucked behind a large bank covered in trees. It’s easy to miss, but as a pillar in the community, everyone knows where Goodwell lives. This time when we arrive, there has been a big change from the small house we visited last time – a larger brick house with a tin roof sits in the place of his old home. A shimmer of light shines through the windows where the family sits around the table exchanging stories and studying. 

Goodwell and his family spending the evening together. SolarAid/Chris Gagnon.

As Goodwell speaks about what his life is like now, his eyes light up. 

“When we switched on the lights, some children were dancing, jumping. Then everyone rushed to where there were books because they saw that they had a chance to study well in the house. Therefore, they rushed to collect their books together and started reading. Indeed.”

With the flick of a switch, everything changed.

“The coming of the solar light has changed our lives. There were some tasks we failed to do in the dark. Now we are able to do them even at night. When we switch on the lights we are able to do them.”

Goodwell Kongolwa and his wife Patrisha Jenufala in front of their new home. SolarAid/Chris Gagnon.

With access to clean, safe light, Goodwell can feel the impact in all areas of his family’s life – work, school and community. His children are now thriving in school and are given a chance to realise their dreams.

“For the children, their school performance has changed because the lights help them to study whenever they want to. It has also made it easier for us as parents to help out the children with their education.”

Goodwell and his wife Patricia’s business is also expanding. While Patricia continues to sell beans, they are able to sort the beans in the evening and charge more for better stock. Goodwell has also started a phone charging service using his solar home system.

“Because they [people in the community] don’t have the lights, they bring their radios, phones and other things that need charging. They bring them here. Once we have charged, we charge them money which they give us. Once they give us, it helps us to boost our budget, to supplement what we already have for expenditures such as building the house.”

Goodwell Kangolwa charging his phone using his solar home system. SolarAid/Chris Gagnon.

Just last year, Goodwell was worried about what the future would look like for his family. Without a reliable and safe source of light, the family didn’t feel safe.

“A lot of things happen because of the light shortage at home. At night, it is dark. There are things that move around. Things like snakes, and other things which move at night. You can’t see them, and a person may end up being bitten. It is very worrisome if there is no light. But also, for a person to find their things, it becomes difficult, as there is nothing that gives you light. How can you see in the dark?”

But now, Goodwell tells a different story. Solar lights have transformed Goodwell’s life overnight, giving his family a sense of safety.

“In the past when we were in the dark, there was less safety especially because of wild creatures like snakes and the like. It was possible to be bitten without seeing what has bitten you. Now because of these lights we are very safe.”

Goodwell’s family in front of their home. SolarAid/Chris Gagnon.

For Goodwell and his family, a solar light truly changed everything in an instant. From improved grades to replenished savings and safety, light has offered his family a brighter future.

“What has changed most is the issue of light. Light was a challenge. Now we are very proud because we are receiving light every day. Every night until morning…Because there is light everywhere, you do everything freely…Now we are changed and delighted people.”


You can light up the lives of families like Goodwell’s with the flick of a switch. Give the gift of light today and together, we can make light work.