The main reason I went to Kenya was to photographically support the work of the environmental non-profit New Course. This is the same non-profit I first went to Uganda with last March. New Course has put in place a program to help empower women using Luci Lights. (Lucie Lights are those small, plastic, inflatable solar light that I have written here much about.)
This is how it works (pay attention, this is actually kinda interesting). The fuel much of the energy impoverished people of the world use as light is kerosene. Small kerosene lamps are ubiquitous in third world houses but they come with a high price because kerosene is expensive. Kerosene represents about 22% of the annual household expenditures. By eliminating that expense the saved money can go to other much needed things like books, shoes, medical care, etc.
In Kenya New Course is selling Luci Lights to women in women cooperatives for 300 shillings- about $3 USD- and asking for half of their two month savings from not buying kerosene. This money goes into a community pot to be used for things beneficial to the community. In 3 months one cooperative built a latrine, one built a house for a family in need and another bought 2 goats to be fatten and sold later.
Of the 100 or so women we encountered in these cooperatives they all were universally thrilled to have a Luci Light and strongly in favor of the buy-in program. It was very satisfying to see such positive results from these women. Given a voice these women were strong and resolute- forces to be dealt with.
The reason they are so thrilled to have a Luci Light is that they hate using kerosene. In addition to being expensive, kerosene smoke is very unhealthy and causes everything from eye irritations and eye diseases to all kinds of respiratory diseases not to mention nasty skin burns. A Luci Light stops all this.
But using a Luci Light also has some fascinating side effects- where I was in Kenya they keep the Luci Light on at night to keep scorpions away! And because they are not using kerosene anymore they don’t have to cut down trees to get wood to sell to earn money to buy more kerosene. Use a Luci Light and slow deforestation- I bet you didn’t see that one coming!
Such are the dominoes that fall when one is pushed. With Luci Lights, all the dominoes are falling on the good side of things.