Lighting Up Lives

led

We recently replaced 44 light bulbs for LED lights in Kenya. This small change will have a big impact, as it will allow the home to save on their electric bill. What this means is that they can use more electricity for less money. So the 70 children that live there will now have lights during the evenings to do their school work. More lights and more chances to study- all while saving 90% on their electrical costs!

 

 

Changing Lives One LED Lightbulb at a Time

By: Jacqueline Herrera, Co-founder and Director

 

A while back, I wrote about how excited we were about our partnership with Engineers without Borders, an organization comprised of professional engineers who provide low cost or pro bono services to organizations doing development in the field.
Since we take on some really diverse, and often fascinating projects (aquaponics farms, greenhouses, water purification, etc.), I knew that we would immensely benefit from having an expert weigh in and give us feedback.

Photo: EWB Australia

Photo: EWB Australia

When you are dealing with different vendors across the world, jumping through language barriers, time zones, foreign currencies, and cultural practices, developing a project can get super complicated, super fast. One day we have to know everything about the life cycle of Tilapia, and the next day calculate how fast we can get six greenhouses to provide a daily serving of fruits and vegetables to over 200 children at a partner home. And let’s not even get started on calculating the energy use of a partner home in watts, and dividing that by the hours per day and multiplying it by the cost of kw/h…I lost myself there too!
This is where EWB comes in – we have a dedicated engineer who is able to provide us feedback and guidance on everything from the most trusted vendors in the field, to making sure we are considering all aspects of a project before we sign any contracts, to even helping us decide whether the project should exist at all.

Soweto Slums

Soweto Slums

Our latest foray in development was a solar panel installation at the Good Samaritan Children’s Home, located in the Soweto slums of Nairobi.  The home provides refuge to over 70 children, most whom are babies that were abandoned in the slums. With nowhere else to go, and not enough support from the government’s social services department, the home is crucial to these infants’ survival. Babies are expensive – as I learned recently when I became a mother to my 11-month old daughter – so we brainstormed a way to eliminate some costs for the home so that they would not be under financial strain and could divert what funding they have to hire a social worker, who could facilitate the adoption of some of the infants. Energy was a big cost in the home, so we immediately thought a solar panel installation would work. The home had a large open roof and we began the process of researching solar panel vendors and partners in Nairobi. The cost was upwards of $8,000, which seemed about the right price range. We then asked our engineer to look over the proposal and give us the OK or make suggestions. Instead, he told us something very different, and very exciting.

Our energy use calculations

Our energy use calculations

After looking at the energy use of the home, (which was done by compiling a table of all light bulbs, all appliances, their wattage, hours used per day, etc.), he realized that we could actually almost eliminate the energy cost of the home by simply switching to LED light bulbs – something that would cost about $500 USD. Replacing the bulbs will reduce an estimated 90% of the current energy bills, and save us over $7500 for a project that simply was not necessary.
Solar energy is important and it has its time and place, but the systems are also expensive, complex, and can be high maintenance, which is why we have moved ahead with replacing over 40 bulbs at the home, rewiring the electrical system to support this change, and providing backup bulbs for replacement. Now comes the monitoring part, which we’ll do for one year – monitoring the cost saved and how the home is able to use the funding saved to fund more important aspects of their mission – such as providing love, care, nutrition, and even reunification with families to their children.

With one of the infants at the Good Samaritan Home

With one of the infants at the Good Samaritan Home

We remain grateful and fascinated by all that we learn through our projects, and all the time and guidance that our pro-bono volunteers and partners are willing to give, to make the world a better place for all. Whether you are giving your time, your money, or your knowledge, there is so much you can do to be a part of our mission. Learn more here. And I highly recommend you replace your lightbulbs to LED!

Progress at Ashirvad

chickens ashirvad

 

Our chicken project in India is continuing to make progress. Some of the chickens are now almost three months old and should be laying eggs soon. This project works to improve the nutritional and educational needs of the 79 children living at Ashirvad Home. How does it work? These chickens are sold in the market and the profits pay for fresh fruit and also fund computers and a teacher for the children. 

Making A Difference One Veggie At A Time

Take a look at some of the fresh, healthy veggies produce being grown at Fiwagoh Home in Kenya through our greenhouse project. We installed 6 greenhouses, which grow various vegetables, including the ones we’re harvesting this month: lettuce, tomatoes, kale, spinach and cabbage. These veggies are used to supplement the diets of the children, while the surplus produce is sold for profit. Those profits keep the project going and also will hire additional caretakers for the home, making it a sustainable and necessary project that provides nutritious food and emotional support to the children of Fiwagoh. 

Greenhouses for Growth at Children’s Home

St. Catherine’s in Kenya is home to 43 children in need of nutrition, education and social services. We’ve partnered with @amiran_kenya to refurbish 4 greenhouses, which will grow produce to be sold for the benefit of the home. This project has a projected annual income of $2,544.00 for the home, which will be used to fulfill the immediate needs of the children by  improving nutrition, as well as paying for school fees for the older children. Over time with this income generating project, our long-term goal of hiring a social worker for the kids will also be reached. A social worker will help to more effectively run the home and will reintegrate the children back into the community. Please read more and help make this project take off: http://goo.gl/KkGc0L 

Seeking and Finding Happiness Through Service

by Jacqueline Monet, Social Media Marketing Manager

 

I sometimes peruse “This Day in History,” while searching for inspiration or, at the very least, a good piece of trivia. Yesterday, it turns out, was the day that Albert Schweitzer, the Nobel Prize winning physician and philosopher was born. As I read about him, I found the inspiration I needed from his quote:  The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve. That statement rings true to me, the organization I work for and for our new partner home.

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Source: Wikipedia

 

Our newest partner home, the Christ Faith Home for Children, is a very special place that has truly sought and found how to serve the vulnerable. Through my work for Kitechild, I’ve gone from a superficial understanding of vulnerable and orphaned children to a much broader perspective that has shifted my focus from simply helping others to supporting communities to be empowered. Similarly, the mission of the Christ Faith Home is to care for the vulnerable members of their community, by attending to their immediate needs and by supporting them to go on to live fulfilling, independent lives.

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Located in Chennai, India, the Christ Faith Home is a secular NGO that works in a multi-faceted way to care for all the disadvantaged members of their community including children, the elderly, the ill and women. Their ideology is based on the proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” They work with orphaned and vulnerable children through housing, adoption and educational programs. Like their other programs, such as medical and women’s welfare, their emphasis is on the long-term goal of self-reliance.

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We have installed solar panels at the Peace Garden, their home for 35 boys. This home provides food, shelter and an education to the boys until they reach an age Their electricity bills are a monthly burden for them, so by alleviating that cost, the home can instead spend their money on more nutritious food and the education of the children. The boys are cared for until they graduate school and the home works to aid them in their higher educational pursuits and finding them jobs, so that they can live vibrant adult lives.

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Source: Christ Faith Home

We are so excited for this new partnership and hope that, together, we can continue to serve vulnerable children around the world and continue to bring about lasting change.

Give to Greenhouses

The holidays are over, but it’s never too late to #GiveGood to vulnerable children. We need your support to make our greenhouse project at St. Catherine’s Home a reality. The greenhouses grow produce, which the children eat. The remaining vegetables are sold in the market, where the profits cover the education of the older kids, as well as fund a social worker to help reintegrate them back into the community. #GiveGood today: goo.gl/B6UOlz  

Empower and Support Vulnerable Children

#NewYearsResolutionIn5Words: Empower and support vulnerable children. 2016 is off to a bright start for the kids at the Watoto Wema Home in Kenya. Our greenhouse project has produced tomatoes and other vegetables, which are sold in the market for profits that pay for school fees. Let’s keep making positive changes this year: goo.gl/B6UOlz

Harvest at Fiwagoh Home

The Fiwagoh Home in Kenya is already busy harvesting the tomatoes and lettuce from two of its greenhouses. Those veggies ensure that the children have healthy food to eat, and the profits of selling the extras in the marketplace provided the income to buy more caretakers. We’re currently working on setting up a similar greenhouse project that promotes Change, not Charity, but we need your help to make it happen. #GiveBack today and #MakeADifference: goo.gl/B6UOlz