Cristina Westphal, one of our excellent supporters, has helped an NGO called Hope for Girls and Women get access to solar lighting to help SolarAid’s mission by supporting girls and women in Tanzania. Here she tells the story in her own words, explaining the amazing results.

“I’d like to tell you about the group I am supporting in Mara, Tanzania. The organisation is called Hope for Girls and Women and they work to eliminate all forms of gender based violence, including FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and child marriage. December is the main ‘cutting season’ in Mara and Hope for Girls are very busy rescuing girls from villages at this time. In the run up to December they had already protected around 90 girls by letting them stay in their second new Safe House in Butiama District and aimed to protect even more by the end of December. At the end of 2016 they had protected over 150 girls who found refuge in their first Safe House in Mugumu, Seregeti District, Mara Region.

In January, Hope for Girls started the reconciliation process with the families in order for them to accept their daughters back, after signing a legally binding document committing them not to perform Female Genital Mutilation and allowing them to go back to school.

The group was very successful last year, managing to return most of the girls back to their families. These girls are monitored afterwards by a local team with representatives from the social services and the police.

For the first time, we were able to use solar lights as a tool to encourage a safe return of the girls to their families. Each girl returned home has taken one solar light with them.  This light will support them doing their homework and also contribute to the whole family after dark.

The solar lights provide a beacon of hope for these girls and provide multiple benefits to their lives. The lights help guide them into the future, making their dreams of continuing and progressing with their education a real possibility. They also help the girls to be valued by their families, giving them power to help their families to save money, live safer, healthier and happier together.

The girls who received the solar lights were very happy to have something to contribute to their families, offering the light as a symbol to guide the family towards a better future and to help achieve their dreams.”

SolarAid would like to send a huge thank you to Cristina Westphal for making this happen.

You can follow Hope for Girls and Women on Twitter and Facebook.