I was recently reading Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. Only a few pages into the Introduction I was thrown back to Mwanga, Tanzania – the home of our co-founder, Lucas Lameck. I remembered a conversation that took place at Lucas’ home with Lucas, his brothers Maiko and Kefason, my friends Hadley and Laura and me. One of Lucas’ brothers wanted to understand ‘Why are America and China progressing so much and we are staying behind?’ (China was on his mind because the Chinese are working in the area – building a highway that will connect the Kigoma Region of Tanzania to its neighbor country to the north, Burundi.)
Thinking about this book and its capacity to shed light on this question, it occurred to me that it might be a good book (among others) to share with Lucas. As I started thinking about books that I could bring over to Lucas (who LOVES to read and learn as much as he can) I thought about the light situation. It’s dark by 7pm in Tanzania and with the work to be done each day coupled with the heat of daylight hours, the evening is the perfect time to read – but there’s no light. Lucas doesn’t have electricity in his house.
Lucas isn’t alone. Last year, the children asked me if they could have extra money to pay for fuel to have light so they could study at night. I didn’t feel comfortable paying for gas for a few reasons. The primary reason was that I couldn’t be sure it would be used for the purposes it was intended. The request lingered with me, though. I thought about the children’s lives – long walks to and from school daily, work around the house to help parents after school and then as darkness falls, they sit with their family or go to bed, but studying can no longer be an option.
So, as I sat reading Guns, Germs and Steel – the simple idea occurred to me (better late than never) – what about lanterns and headlamps? Simple and small – but major game changers!
I contacted a longtime friend at Black Diamond (BD) to see about getting a discount on headlamps or lanterns. Not only did he reply with the response below, but he and another friend at BD made some great suggestions, leading me to order Apollo lanterns with rechargeable battery packs and wiz headlamps. The wiz headlamps last a long time and they have an auto shut-off after two hours, so if the students fall asleep studying, the batteries won’t die. Each of the soon to be 20 students in our scholarship program will get a wiz headlamp. The Apollo lanterns will go to Lucas (and incidentally his family), Isaya (our general contractor and his family) and Ashahadu (our village contact and host of our summer intern, Katy).
From Chris at BD:
Of course! BD will give them to you. You could get Apollo’s with rechargeable batteries and if you could score some small solar panels, they could recharge them every day. We (BD) are very proud of you, Rai!
I’m excited to have the support of Black Diamond, a company that I’ve worked for as a retail employee in past years. I’ve also been psyched to explore the mountains in BD gear for almost 20 years! I can’t wait to share the goods with our students and friends in Tanzania!