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Lighting up lives in Uganda

It’s amazing how news about the benefits of solar lights spreads, and inspires people to help those in need.

The following story comes from Diane Simms, of All Saints and St.Mary’s Church Fishponds in Bristol, who helped distribute SolarAid’s SM100 solar lights on a recent trip to Africa:

Mr and Mrs Simms with year 7 students at Mpenja Primary School near Mpigi, Central Buganda

“My husband Mark and I went out to visit friends in Uganda in mid August. We made connections with people in Central and West Buganda in Uganda through our Diocese of Bristol Uganda Link which started in 1969. The link is about to celebrate its 50 year anniversary. I first heard about SolarAid through one of the leaders of a youth party going out to Uganda through our Bristol Uganda Link. I asked Matt, the youth leader, if he had any good ideas useful gifts. That was when he showed me SolarAid’s SM100 lights on the SunnyMoney website.

Our churches at All Saints and St.Mary’s Fishponds, Bristol has links with a charity based in Kasaka, Central Buganda, run by Kenneth Kasule called Wide Smiles For All Through Education. I contacted Kenneth of Wide Smiles and asked if he thought solar study lights would benefit his students. He gave his enthusiastic ‘yes’. I explained to our churches how solar lights make a big difference to pupils being able to study after dark, and within 2 weeks they had raised £450 – enough for 88 lights. Mark, and our driver Quraish, tracked down the SunnyMoney shop in Kampala and bought the lights, after converting the pounds into Ugandan shillings.
On 19th August Kenneth invited secondary students from Kasaka Secondary School, Kanoni Modern and Aidah and Topher Primary School, who live furthest away from the electricity grid, and were most in need of the lights, to Kasaka Diocesan Guest House in Central Buganda to receive their lights. The next day we donated another set of the lights to a P7 class at Mpenja Primary School near Mpigi.”
Kenneth from Wide Smiles shared with Diane and Mark how happy everyone had been to receive the lights. Kenneth writes: “We got great feedback from the students who explained the lights are such a huge help. Parents started looking out for me to say thank you so much for the gifts. It’s very unusual for for people in Uganda to receive such a gift for free. Others have been coming to me with requests for a solar light. I gave the last one I had left to a young girl in primary six called Harriet.
When I told the members of Mpenja Primary school SolarAid had asked if it was OK to feature them on their blog, they were so happy to learn about it. In fact it made them feel important, because for them they don’t think their school had ever received such an honour.”
We are truly humbled by this story, and proud to feature the students from Mpenja Primary school. We are also inspired and encouraged by the number of connections and the huge amount of people involved in helping to make this happen. If your church, diocese, community group or other organisation would be interested in doing something similar we would love to hear from you.
Massive thanks go out to Mr and Mrs Simms, and everyone else involved, for helping to make this happen. The more we can spread the word the sooner we will be able to make sure that no one is left in the dark.

Mrs Simms at Kasaka with Kenneth and students that received the solar lights.