Guest blog post submitted by Paul Renaud, Director of Gift-in-Kind Program for Stop Hunger Now
About Stop Hunger Now: Stop Hunger Now understands that by providing people with the resources they need, the have an increased likelihood of becoming healthy, educated and self-sufficient. Stop Hunger Now receives essential donated supplies from corporations, USAID, charitable partners and private donors. In 2012, Stop Hunger Now sent more than $7 million worth of donated goods to people in need around the world.
For nearly all children born into poverty, any hope of breaking the cycle of impoverishment rests on their ability to attain an education. Education is not just based on a child’s experience in school, but also on their home lives. Without sufficient access to food or electricity, children become malnourished, disheartened, and at odds with barriers to their educational success. This is why we, at Stop Hunger Now, invest our time and energy into school nutrition programs so that enrollment and matriculation rates can rise with the comfort of food security at home.
Yet, for the millions lacking stable access to electricity, the simple act of completing the assignments necessary to graduate becomes a chore dependent on the sun’s timetable. When the sun disappears over the horizon, learning typically comes to a halt. Young girls suddenly have to brave the darkness and put themselves at risk of assault, children must walk great lengths to find light sources suitable for the continuing of their studying, and families spend less time together and more time seeking light elsewhere Without reliable electricity, children often choose between personal health & safety or the chance to build a future free from the confines of poverty.
During a recent trip with Stop Hunger Now, I was excited to bring the gift of light to a place where it can impact lives and incite change the most — to schoolchildren in a small destitute, off-the-grid village called Sousa in the Dominican Republic. The children of this remote northern village are largely cared for, educated and fed by a small non-profit, Island Lights Ministries (ILM). Outside of a handful of communal buildings that periodically utilize diesel generators for village-wide events, everyday tasks must be tackled without the aid of electricity.
With two dozen Nokero N182 solar lights in tow, I toured the village and the ILM facilities to assess the situation. During my rounds I met with Debra Tunnicliffe, who runs the ILM school feeding program, and she made a specific appeal for the distribution for two of the lights. She asked that they be set aside for a nearby homeless woman who had three small children living with her on the street. We were obviously more than happy to fulfill her request. Debra explained that the lights will allow this woman’s young children to no longer live in fear after sunset.
Alongside my partners from the local branch of CitiHope International, we distributed 22 additional Nokero lights to children in need and trained them on how to power on the lights in order to empower their minds. Where before, the children were forced to risk their safety for the sake of education, they can now continue their studies in the safety and comfort of their own homes. The gift of light will allow them to continue learning, continue growing, and continue improving despite the circumstances they were born into. We’re ecstatic that through our partnership with Nokero, a child’s lack of electricity no longer has the ability to dictate their status in life.
Click to learn more about Stop Hunger Now and donate to bring more light to children in the Dominican Republic.