Tereza, a 28-year-old mother of three, lives in a small village outside of Kikonda, in central Uganda. She and her neighbors gather in the shade of her jackfruit tree. She is joyful, warm, and laughs freely.
Her youngest is a baby girl named Marjorie. Her two other girls attend school, but occasionally have to skip a week or two when the family struggles to keep up with school fees.
Tereza is grateful for the solar light she received at the Kikonda Health Clinic through Let There Be Light International’s Safe Births + Healthy Homes program. With the money she now saves on battery operated lights – amounting to 25% of her budget – she recently bought a pig, which she proudly points to as it grazes through her garden. The solar light and the pig are clearly hers.
While her husband used to make most financial decisions, Tereza’s ownership of the light, and now the pig, has given her more authority. Without hesitation, she laughs and declares, “the light is mine.” Her husband, who sits nearby, nods, shrugs in surrender, and joins in her laughter.
With her newfound agency and the savings from her solar light, Tereza opened a little soda shop that she operates out of her home. In the evenings, after completing the farm work and household chores, she sells beverages to her neighbors. Inspired by the savings from her solar light, she purchased a larger solar system, which powers both a porch light and a stereo — a luxury among the subsistence farming community she lives in. She is now able stay open an additional three hours each night, and, her customers who have solar lights can frequent her store after dark without fear. Together, the sound of the stereo and Tereza’s laugh welcome customers from afar.
In recent months, Tereza and her husband have begun working on their next project: rebuilding their home. Today, they live in a simple one-room structure built out of mud. With the new funds from her business, they are slowly building a new brick structure next door. In the meantime, Tereza’s home has already become a gathering place and a symbol of progress in their community.