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Solar lamps lighting on girls’ education

From left to right, Geasi Ali Farah, 10, Amina Hassen, 13, Aynalem Fitwe, Principal, and Geasi Ali Farah, 13

AMIBARA WOREDA: AFAR REGION, 27 November 2013 - At the crack of dawn, the beautiful sound of children echoing after their teachers is heard as a melody from afar. Inside Kursa Primary School, everyone is tied up in the powerful world of teaching and learning.
Although the school was established in 2001, it looks brand new with great ambience of its 103 children, of which 75 are girls and 108 boys. Aynalem Fitwe, principal of Kusra Primary School, is busy trying to attend to everyone’s needs, dashing from one classroom to another. Even at a first glance, it is easy to tell that the children are in good hands with Aynalem’s mother-like care and attentiveness. The school is one of the beneficiaries of solar lamps donated by IKEA for the purpose of improving girls’ education.
“Though there is a lot of demand for solar lamps by the students, we had to make sure that we give priority to those children who need them the most and those children are who do not have access to electricity,” Aynalem says. So far, 27 children have received the solar lamps at the school.

In 2013, UNICEF provided 16,443 solar lamps, which are an in-kind contribution from the IKEA Foundation, to the Afar region for eight supported woredas (districts): Amibara, Aysaita, Kore,Afdera,Teru, Erebti, Megale and Semurobi .

Fruits of the Innovative IKEA Lamps
Geasi Ali Farah, 13, right, attends a class at Kursa Primary School in Afar Region of Ethiopia

Amina Hassan, thirteen, is one of the beneficiaries of solar lamps. “I use the solar lamp to do my homework in the evening,” she says. “After I start using it, my rank has improved from 14th last year to 10th this year,” she adds. Since only one lamp is given per household, Amina says that she also shares it with her three brothers and one sister and they study by turns. In addition, Amina’s family also uses it for household chores in the evening.

Ali Farah, 58, shows how to operate a solar lamp donated by IKEA Foundation

Geasi Ali Farah, thirteen and her younger sister Nesro, are also beneficiaries of the solar lamp donation. They use the solar lamp to study at night and also to teach other children in their community. They explain proudly that their ranks have also improved after the provision of the IKEA solar lamps, since they now study more. For Geasi, a 7th grade student this year, her rank has improved by one – from 6th last year to 5th this year.

Ali Farah is the father of the two sisters: Geasi and Nesro, and is open-minded about the education of his girls, though he himself, is not educated. He explains that his inspiration comes from his educated friends, who are serving in higher government positions. “I should not pass my illiteracy to my children but rather provide to my children what I could not have,” he says firmly.

Ali Farah does not lose a moment to bring the solar lamp, that was given to his daughters from his home and shows it off to everyone. “We are really grateful to have this lamp at home,” he says. “My daughters use it to do their studies at night and we also use it for other domestic chores. Previously, we used a lamp called ‘fanos’ that worked on gas, and costed us close to US$ 10 per month. This  was expensive for us. Now, we do not have any cost: we just charge it using the  sun,” says Ali.
Due to the nature of their pastoralist life style, many people in the community travel from one place to another with the new lamp. Ali is one of the few exceptions.  Although he’s a pastoralist himself, the solar lamp stays at his home to help his daughters’ education. “I have now a settled home here, so my children do not have to go from one place to another and miss out on their education,” he says.

With the new solar lamps, children, especially girls, in Afar are one step ahead from an obstacle that would hinder their progress in school. Amina, Geasi, their siblings and many more children will advance in their education and become the innovative mind themselves.



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