Mara Girls Solar Home Libraries

Like their counterparts all over the world, the students from Mara Girls Leadership School were home for 2020 and early 2021 during COVID-19. Many of these families live in traditional earthen homes without power or light, and books are not to be found. We worked with our Kenyan team and partners to respond to this need by providing each of the 48 families with a Solar Home Library. This project had been a dream of ours for a long time, and this unusual year provided a great opportunity to pilot it.


Each Solar Home Library contains a robust solar lantern big enough to light up the main room of a Maasai home, a study encyclopedia for the Mara Girls student, and a library of children's books and readers in English and Kiswahili for the whole family. The teachers from Mara Girls delivered the Libraries with their class assignments. This enabled the girls to continue studying at home. When they returned to school in February 2021, they brought their encyclopedia with them while the Library continued to provide light and literacy for their family back home.

We plan to expand this program to more families in the region. 


Head teacher Mouline Otieno and her fellow teachers from Mara Girls delivered the Solar Libraries to the 48 families, while also bringing school lessons, sanitary napkins, and food supplements. In this rural area, they could reach 7 families in one day of travel. We purchased the lanterns from Basecamp Foundation Kenya and the books from Textbook Centre in Nairobi.


Many families in the Maasai Mara live in traditional earthen homes without light or power, and the inside is dark. See the inside of a Maasai home.

Each family received a Sunbell Smart solar lantern.

  •  Powerful enough to light up the main room​

  • A hanging light, focused reading light, or lantern to carry in the dark​

  • 110 hours of light on a 5-hour charge​

  • Proven effective at local safari camps

  • Robust and built for long-term use



Each Mara Girls student received a Targeter Student Encyclopedia that combines enrichment material for all standard subjects in Kenya. These were chosen by the teachers as a valuable supplement to their lessons.


Each family received a home library with 14 books for young readers that have proven to be popular in the Mara Girls library: storybooks in English and Kiswahili from a popular series published in Kenya to help young people develop reading skills; and children's picture storybooks telling folktales about East African animals, to engender a love of wildlife and reading.