Solar Powered Solutions

Some of the 36 children benefitting from the solar project.

Some of the 36 children benefitting from the solar project.

The first thing most of us do in the mornings and the last thing we do at night is flip a switch. Yet, we very rarely put much thought into how much this modern convenience improves our lives. With the flip of a switch we can eat, read, walk to the bathroom at night and put to rest our fears if we hear a strange noise.  For 36 children in Rajamundry, India, this is something they’ll be able to have for the very first time. And some added bonuses? It will be through the sustainable energy of solar power, so it won’t negatively impact the environment. Additionally, since the home doesn’t have electricity, they can save the money they would be spending on having traditional electricity installed and on those monthly electrical bills. And those savings can get passed onto providing the children with the best care, access to nutrition and educational needs.

lamp home

The exterior of the children’s home.

This year, we were fortunate enough to visit India and the LAMP home for the second time, where these kids live. One thing we realized is that the home was in need of some repairs, which they could not afford. One of the things they needed was to have their roof reinforced. The good news is that the roof construction is now complete, thanks to a private donor working with Kitechild. The roof is now strong enough to support the solar lighting installation, which means that the children will now have a better roof to live under, as well as electricity.

Construction is underway at the LAMP home.

Construction is underway at the LAMP home.

The lighting installation consists of a total of six lights- three indoor and three outdoor lights. The indoor lights ensure that the kids will be able to do schoolwork during the evenings, which will improve their learning and potential performance in school. We all know how important education is to future opportunities, and the indoor lights can be a stepping stone to helping these children break the cycle of poverty. The outdoor lights are also really important, as they will keep the home safe and secure after the sun sets. The home is located in the northeast jungle of Andra Pradesh, near Rajahmundry. The area around the home has snakes and other potential hazards, so the safety of the children will improve with the outdoor lights and will help to eliminate injuries by improving visibility.

One of the children living at the LAMP home.

One of the children living at the home.

Here’s a little background on this home, as there are often misconceptions and misinformation about children’s homes. 36 children reside at the home, 20 of whom are true orphans, in the sense that they have no parents to care for them. The other sixteen are children whose families are living with extreme poverty, which makes it difficult for them to provide for their children. Through the home, the children have three meals everyday, are able to attend school and are under the care of long-term caretakers, who live with them at the LAMP home. The families of these children visit them whenever they are able. We’re hoping through this solar light project that these children will be one step closer to rising above poverty and will one do be able to provide for themselves and their families.

Some of the 36 children living at the LAMP home in India.

Some of the children living at the LAMP home in India.

Lighting Up The LAMP Home

lamp girl fruit

We are proud to announce a new solar light project in India. The project begins by reinforcing the roof of the children’s home and then by installing solar lights, 3 of which will be outdoors and 3 will be indoors. This home does not currently have electricity, so these lights will be a real life-changer for the 36 children living there. By having indoor lighting, the children will be able to do their homework in the evenings and the outside lights will make the grounds a more secure and safe place to live. To learn more about this project and to invest in the solar light installation, please click here.

Lighting Up Lives

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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.

205px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-D0116-0041-019,_Albert_Schweitzer

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  

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