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Distributing solar lights: come rain or shine

Mayase M’Shanga

Here is a fantastic blog from one of our intrepid Field Coordinators in the Eastern Province of Zambia. Mayase M’Shanga works for our non-profit trading arm, SunnyMoney. She organises and conducts head teacher meetings, delivers lights, makes presentations and helps conduct research to ensure we’re being as effective as possible with our programmes.

The ground work that is required with our SunnyMoney Schools Programme does not come without risks. As this blog goes to show, reaching that last mile, sometimes under hazardous weather conditions is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Without Mayase’s determination, skills and expertise we would not be making such giant leaps towards our goal of eradicating the Kerosene lamp. We are a charity that certainly appreciates the hard work and dedication of its staff.


Blog: Mayase M’Shanga
SunnyMoney Field Coordinator, Zambia 

“January started on a really good note. Everyone was happy to be back in the office after the Christmas and New Year festivities. After a series of meetings in the Southern province, the SunnyMoney Schools team was geared and ready for Head Teacher meetings in Mazabuka and Monze. I must have been one of the most excited to be back in the field because a little too much time in the office makes us field people start to feel a tad redundant.

Being the rainy season, we were forewarned by the District Education Board (DEB) about the worrying sate of the roads in some areas. It was also quite cold so we weren’t exactly willing to swim across to get there. Fortunately, the DEB was kind enough locate the head teacher meetings at accessible venues to allow for almost every school to attend the meeting.

Kazungula and Kaloba were the last zones scheduled for the week. We got there quite late because our guide had underestimated the state of the road. Though the Head teachers were not so happy about being kept waiting, after the presentation they said it was definitely worth it. Now just as we were loading up the bus to leave, it started to pour. It rained heavily for about 15-20minutes, so heavy, no one was able to leave.

As soon as it toned down, we were on our way, led by a head teacher who owned a Toyota Hilux. He suggested a longer but slightly better route. When we got to his turn-off, we were on our own. We ran into quite a few herds of cattle being led back to the villages because it was now past 6pm.

There was so much water on the road it looked like it had turned into a river. We could barely see the road and the ditches we had driven over on our way there. We could feel the road disintegrate under the bus as we moved because the current was so strong. As we anticipated, the tyre fell into the ditch on the side of the road and the bus couldn’t move anymore.

Some village men were kind enough to stop and try to help us move the bus by lifting it and trying to put logs under it but to no avail. After over half an hour of trying, they gave up and suggested we ask the nearby village for oxen to help tow us out seeing as it was now almost 8pm. Our guide, Mr Hachizibe, left with them to try to get help while Dominic (the driver) and I remained behind.

I looked at the time and it was now 9:30pm. Just as I started looking at the boxes in the back of the bus and wondering how I could lay them out comfortably enough to make a bed for the night, Mr Hachizibe came back with a light truck owner who was well equipped with rope, a pick-axe and a hoe. They were able to dig up the tyres and tow us out. Though it was now almost 11pm, it was such a relief to get back to our accommodation, take a hot shower, have a quick meal and get into bed.”