Freeplay Energy's solar-powered products are designed to increase opportunities for those living off-grid to achieve their full potential.
Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in the field of education. Across Africa and the South Pacific, Freeplay Energy's radios and lighting systems are providing access to distance education, supporting curriculum development and helping students to study after dark.
One such student is Rebecca, an 11 year-old girl who attends Patmos School, in the Mathare district of Nairobi, Kenya. Rebecca, her three siblings, Abraham (9), Stefanie (7) and Frederick (5) and her cousins Susan and Bravin are cared for in a small corrugated shack by Rebecca's mother Jackline.
The informal settlement of Mathare is poorly lit, with many residents using illegal and unsafe power connections to their houses. The Kenya Power and Lighting Company supplies electricity to Mathare, but is unable to meet full demand. Many residents of the area cannot afford to pay for a power supply and end up using unsafe and illegal power connections to their houses. As a result, the power grid is often overloaded and outages are commonplace. Night-time lighting is therefore often unavailable and, when it can be accessed, is very poor. This makes it difficult for the area's students to read and study after dark.
In 2015, Freeplay Energy provided Rebecca and her family with an Energy Centre solar lighting system. Energy Centre has been designed specifically to meet off--grid families' and communities' need for bright, reliable and cost effective lighting. Its two powerful LED light bulbs are powered by a robust and efficient 4W solar panel, making it an ideal and more effective replacement for potentially dangerous kerosene lamps. Furthermore, Energy Centre's mobile phone charging feature provides a free alternative to expensive charging services.
The Energy Centre has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the lives of Rebecca and her family. According to Richard Wanjala, Patmos School's headmaster, it has enabled the children to do their homework well and on time. This has, in turn, helped them to improve their performance in class, and their grades. Furthermore, having access to a good source of lighting has also meant that the children can read story books at night, further improving their reading and comprehension skills.
Richard Wanjana says, "Without light, the children would not be able to do their school work in the evening, they would not be able to read and they would not have anything to do.
"It is clear, having spoken with Rebecca and her mother, that the Freeplay Energy Centre has made a huge difference to this little girl and to her family as a whole. It has not only meant that Rebecca and her siblings and cousins can do their homework, and hopefully improve their academic performance, but it has also improved their recreational time by enabling them to read story books and to further broaden their mind in doing so."
Richard adds that, because Rebecca's house is squeezed among many other surrounding shacks, very little light filters into the home even during the daytime. The light provided by Energy Centre is therefore not only able to help the children's studies, but is also helping Rebecca's mother Jackline, who can now look after their home more effectively.
"This is a great example of how Freeplay Energy's solar lighting systems can help to transform off-grid communities," says Viv Jenkins, Sales Manager at Freeplay Energy. "As Rebecca's experience shows, products such as Energy Centre can provide the bright, reliable light that is needed for study after dark and achieving higher grades. We are delighted that Energy Centre is contributing to a brighter future for Rebecca, her siblings and cousins, and many other students living in offgrid and semi-off-grid communities."