Phillip and the Solar Lamp

The collar of Phillip’s shirt was frayed with well-hidden shreds. It was spotlessly clean as was the rest of his school uniform. He stood straight and spoke articulately in English. Phillip’s Mom is a general laborer on a flower farm in Naivasha, Kenya. His father sells goods that people in the area require, sugar, maize flour, cooking oil and paraffin. Phillip has four brothers and sisters.

Phillip is a 17-year-old, Form 3 student at St Andrews Tarabete Secondary School, 35 km from Naivasha over a rough road. Phillip is bright; Peter Ngugi, the Head Teacher, says Phillip is clearly university material, but funds or a scholarship are unlikely.

Since July last year, Phillip has, however, had one big advantage – a solar lantern that was bought at a substantially subsidized price by his parents for Ksh 400 (about $4.50). The Nancy Ellen Crooks Foundation donated the rest of the cost of the lantern, about $9.00.

Phillip explained to Evans Njoro, the NECF Executive Director, and Barbara Steenstrup, an Advisory Board member, that the lantern has positively affected his and his families’ life in a number of ways.

  • Improved grades because he and his siblings can study longer in the evening
  • Cleaner air in their one room at home without fumes from a paraffin lamp
  • Better health and fewer absences from school – no more chest pains or headaches
  • AND another bonus for the whole family is that there is a savings of about Ksh 600/month (about $6.84) for paraffin. It means more money for food, more money to pay Phillip’s school fees, books and perhaps eventually even a new shirt for Phillip.