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Energy Matters

We went on holiday to an island called Jinack in the Gambia, western africa where there is no electricity or traffic apart from a donkey.

We were staying at an eco lodge so any light we had was solar and this made us re-evaluate how important electricity is and how we take it for granted.

There are four villages on the island and one school and they have to rely on kerosene lamps for their light in the evening. These lamps are extremely bad for health, they are a fire risk and cost a lot to run where the average wage is only £40 a month.

The school has 370 students and the day is split in two, the morning for the younger children and the afternoon for the older students and somehow they manage to provide a meal for every child.

There were two existing small solar panels that had not been maintained and thus not functional so we donated two batteries which produced light for the teachers quarters but there is still no light for the classrooms.

The school has its own garden where they grow vegetables and fruit for them to eat, bananas, cashews, onions, squash, tomatoes, lettuce and the island grows rice in the wet season. The children tend the crops and water them each day and its a wonderful sight to see and very productive.

I taught some yoga to some of the staff at the lodge and we met the Head [nicknamed Prince for Principal] who allowed our friend Karamo to teach them some as well. The focus was on animal postures that they might be familiar with such as Dog, Cat, Crocodile, Lion, Cobra and sun salutations which they really enjoy. Keith taught some science which was also well received.

When we saw how a small gesture such as this made such a difference in their lives it stimulated trying to enable some changes by developing a solar light/lantern that is chrged and maintained by the community.

The design enables the light to run for about 20 hours which means that a small solar panel could light about 40 houses. The light incorporates using local products eg. Water bottles and plastic containers.

  

Our target is to set up a small community industry where the lamp can be made which will require apprenticing and training with the local school. Here creativity is encouraged to develop personalised and multi functional designs [see below].

LED lighting has only recently been developed but can produce the same amount of light as low energy bulbs for about an eighth of the power.

We have aligned ourselves with 2 charities on the island Jinack Community Project and the school which now has charitable status and we also received formal training from LEDsafari.

This project is in its infancy and will be updated as we progress but we welcome any input from anyone who has experience or interest in this field.

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