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Solar Home Libraries

Like their counterparts all over the world, the students from Mara Girls Leadership School were sequestered at home during Covid-19 for 8 months. Most of these families live in earthen homes without power or light, and books are not to be found, so continuing their education became a real challenge. We responded to this need by providing each of the 48 families with a Solar Home Library. The idea of uniting "literacy and light" had been a dream of ours for a long time, and the unusual circumstances provided an opportunity to pilot it.

With their solar libraries, all 48 Mara Girls students were able to continue their studies during the lockdown, and all progressed to some of the best high schools in the country. We now include portable solar reading lights in all our libraries for students to check out with a book, and this successful pilot project also inspired our solar-powered Manyatta Village Library program.

Hear what Nelly has to say about her Solar Library, how it helped her become "topping" in her class, and her dreams for the future. Today, Nelly is attending one of the top high schools in Kenya.

ABOUT THE PILOT PROJECT

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For the first Solar Home Libraries, we used a SunBell Smart solar lantern big enough to light up the main room of a Maasai earthen home or to use as directed light for reading, a study encyclopedia for the student, and a library of children's books for the family. We engaged teachers to deliver the Libraries along with class assignments, food, and sanitary supplies. When the girls returned to school after the pandemic, they brought their encyclopedia with them while the lantern and the other books continued to provide light and literacy for their family back home.

The students received a Student Encyclopedia for their grade level that combines enrichment material for all standard subjects in Kenya, chosen by the teachers in coordination with lessons they delivered.

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The families received a collection of books for children in English and Kiswahili that had already proven to be popular in the Mara Girls library. These are a few examples.

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