One year ago the Nancy Ellen Crooks Foundation donated 150 solar lanterns at subsidized prices to the students at St Andrews Tarabete Secondary School outside of Naivasha. Each household paid Ksh400 ($4.50), and NECF funded the remaining Ksh800 ($9.00).

The lanterns have transformed the lives of the students and their parents and brothers and sisters in many more ways than originally foreseen.

Recently Evans Njoro, NECF Executive Director, and Barbara Steenstrup, Advisory Board member, visited the school to meet Peter Ngugi, who is the Head Teacher, other staff, students, and parents and to visit homes where the lanterns are in use. At the homes, the lanterns were on the roofs charging in the sun to be ready for the evening.

Peter Ngugi, showed us his graph of grades – improvement in almost every grade category. There is still a long way to go – especially since the grades of those students where there is a lantern at home has improved more than those that do not yet have a lantern. The teachers also want an opportunity to buy lanterns for their homes.

But a better grade is only one benefit. Mr Ngugi, the staff, parents and students told us the other benefits in different ways.  Performance has improved because students can do their homework. School fees are paid more promptly allowing additional programs such as a mentoring of Form 4 students by recent graduates.  There is less absence due to chest problems from breathing the fumes from paraffin lamps. School uniforms are newer and overall grooming and hygiene have improved.

It is hard to emphasize how much difference a savings of up to Ksh600/month for paraffin can make for a family of ten, such as the family of Margaret Edup Longdon’.

It means more food. It means better health. It means the hope that better grades will mean the possibility of a scholarship for university or technical collage.