Guest Blog by John Keith and Leah Weinkle
Ten years ago a friend of ours here in Denver started a primary school in Rwanda. Hope Haven Rwanda has recently completed the addition of a secondary school and is the top performing primary school in Rwanda based on national test scores. During our several visits to Hope Haven we witnessed how challenging it is for students to study in the evenings with no electricity, so we consequently initiated a solar lamp distribution project for the students and their families. We’ve distributed more than 500 solar lamps in the last three years, and by all accounts the lamps have made a significant positive impact for all recipients.
We began researching further solar lamp distribution possibilities in Rwanda. Fortunately we identified the good work of Let There Be Light International, (LTBLI), and entered into a partnership with them to expand their model of providing solar lamps to vulnerable families and individuals in Africa to include Rwanda. Shine On Rwanda was born!
LTBLI’s Shine On Rwanda’s Pilot Project
Working with LTBLI, we identified a potential solar partner in Rwanda. While in Rwanda in mid-2022, we met with NPO-Think about Education in Rwanda (NPO-TER), a Kigali based NGO founded in Fukushima, Japan by a Rwandese woman committed to improving child education and health in Rwanda. After a rigorous vetting process by LTBLI, we orchestrated a pilot project with NPO-TER in late 2022. And, we now have successfully distributed 150 solar lamps to individuals and families in the Gicumbi District, Miyove Sector of Rwanda.
As our partner in Rwanda, NPO-TER implemented intake surveys of all solar participants, learning about their current lighting situations and needs. NPO-TER also will conduct follow-up assessments of the impact of the solar lamps on the recipients over the next few months. Assuming the solar impacts are as anticipated, we will expand the “Shine On Rwanda” initiative to additional villages in Rwanda in 2023.
We have been so impressed with the LTBLI team and the work they have been doing for years. We are excited about this partnership with LTBLI and NPO-TER and are looking forward to ongoing solar lamp distributions in Rwanda. Our commitment is to fund this work and hopefully to build a robust donor base for LTBLI and “Shine On Rwanda” among our communities.
May your 2023 be bright and Shine On!