Giving the gift of light

On International Day of the Girl Child, held on Monday 11 October, St Margaret’s students were encouraged to consider the challenges girls face around the globe and be inspired to make a difference.

789 million around the world live in extreme energy poverty. Without access to clean energy they depend on primitive forms such as charcoal and firewood to ignite their way through the night. These alternatives have devastating impacts in communities, affecting health, the environment, economic stability and educational outcomes.

Through the Solar Buddy program, St Margaret’s primary students have given the gift of safe and reliable light to more than 2000 children living in energy poverty in developing countries so they can study after dusk.

Head of Primary Angela Drysdale said the program combined STEM learning with global citizenship and philanthropy.

“The Solar Buddy activity was the ideal opportunity for students to make a tangible difference in the lives of others while also learning about renewable energy and innovative design solutions.

“The process highlighted to students how others around the world live while also giving them the opportunity to make a global contribution. Providing the gift of light will positively impact lives by increasing study hours after dark, offsetting carbon emissions and reducing kerosene expenditure.

“The activity also gave students the chance to learn about solar technology and to consider how innovative design solutions can solve some of the world’s most complex problems and transform lives,” Angela said.

Before assembling their solar light, students heard from representatives from Solar Buddy partners Amazon Web Services, Mantel Group and Trend Micro. The message from each of these partners focused on encouraging our girls to consider a career in technology.

Leah from Amazon Web Services inspired the girls not to listen to the critical voice inside their head that will sometimes tell them they can’t do something. “In the future if a job comes up ask “why not me?” Leah said.

She highlighted to students that their gift of light may well be assisting the recipients to one day have a career in technology.

Mantel Group are on a mission to widen the pathway for this generation of girls to become a generation of technologists.

Trend Micro CEO, a cybersecurity company committed to supporting diverse talent in technology, encouraged the girls to overcome their fears and have the confidence to do anything.

After assembling their solar light, students wrote a message for the recipient who would receive their gift.

It was a remarkable experience for St Margaret’s students to illuminate the futures of children living in extreme energy poverty with the gift of Solar Buddy lights.