News Walthamstow

Walthamstow charity pledges light for every sub-Saharan school by 2030

Currently millions of schoolchildren rely on polluting kerosene lamps to read after dark
By Nadoya Reid

SolarAid has already set up 17
SolarAid has already set up 17 “Light Libraries” in Malawi since 2019 (credit: SolarAid)

A Walthamstow charity is determined to give schoolchildren across sub-Saharan Africa a safe way to study after dark within the next eight years.

Currently, 578 million people in the region have no access to electricity, forcing school children to use candle light or kerosene lamps to do their homework or read after sunset.

However, burning kerosene inside creates harmful air pollution, damaging their health and, particularly, the health of any children under five in the home.

SolarAid, a charity based in Gnome House in Blackhorse Lane, has pledged today to ensure every school in the region has access to safe, green solar lamps by 2030 and is calling for donations to help them achieve their goal.

So far it has set up 17 “Light Libraries” in Malawi since 2019 and plans to open another 62 next year, 20 of which will also stock books provided by Book Aid International.

Fabriola, 15, hopes to become a nurse when she grows up (credit: SolarAid)

Fabriola Davidson, a 15-year-old from Tembetembe village in Malawi, said: “[Before the Light Library] I was not performing well in class because, sometimes, I just read a little bit and our torch light went off. So I failed because I was not able to study enough.”

This story is published by Waltham Forest Echo, Waltham Forest's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

Her mother, Elizabeth, added: “When she comes from school, she reads to me things that I cannot read. Her reading brings joy in my heart and I am encouraged that she has a future.”

Dalitso Halario, a 13-year-old from the same village who hopes to become a teacher, added: “My school performance is changing because of the library… if the teacher gives us an assessment I always perform better.”

Dalitso Halario, 13 (credit: SolarAid)

His mum, Emilina Palasido, said that previously the family relied on a battery-powered torch, but added: “Sometimes it happened that the batteries finished when I didn’t have any cash to buy new batteries. 

“But for the solar light, we just charge it in the sun and at night he is able to read without any problems.”

SolarAid chief executive John Keane said: “We’ve heard from so many wonderful children and teachers how, as a result of access to light, they are now able to achieve higher education and to dream about their future.

“Having light and books to study and read by powers children’s imagination – helping them to pursue their education so they can grow up to achieve their life goals.”

To donate or find out more, visit SolarAid’s website.

No news is bad news 

Independent news outlets like ours – reporting for the community without rich backers – are under threat of closure, turning British towns into news deserts. 

The audiences they serve know less, understand less, and can do less. 

In celebration of Indie News Week, Public Interest News Foundation's Indie News Fund will match fund all donations, including new annual supporter subscriptions for the month of June.

If our coverage has helped you understand our community a little bit better, please consider supporting us with a monthly, yearly or one-off donation. 

Choose the news. Don’t lose the news.

Monthly direct debit 

Annual direct debit

£5 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else, £10 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else and a print copy posted to them each month.  £50 annual supporters get a digital copy of each month's paper before anyone else.

Donate now with Pay Pal

More information on supporting us monthly or annually 

More Information about donations