Sandra Wekesa @AndayiSandra
Beatrice Njoroge concentrates on her Mathematics class keenly, unsure if she will get the opportunity to study at a later time. She raises her hand to answer and asks questions on what she might not have understood. And immediately after the class is over, the teacher dashes out, she turns to her deskmate to clarify any pending issues that he did not understand during the lesson.
In Naishi, Molo, Nakuru county, children study as much as they can during the day because there is no stable electricity supply within the area. They have no choice but to maximise their day by doing all activities usually set for evenings and nights.
Kerosene lamps tend to be so expensive and dangerous to most homes. There have been several horror stories of homes razed down from fires started by kerosene lamps.
For Njoroge, her passion for reading is limitless, and with the little time she has during the day, she tries to grasp everything she can from her books and even finish her chores before the sun sets.
Luckily, she is among the children whose parents managed to get solar lamps, distributed in schools within Laikipia and Nakuru counties, at a subsidised price, through an initiative by General Electric and Givewatts.
Before the project started her performance in school was poor. She was not even able to attain average marks and was constantly heartbroken because she knew she had potential but wasn’t able to realise it.
“Being a Class Seven student, I would leave school early and come home to help with the remaining chores. Unfortunately, I was not always able to do my homework, which meant waking up early to get to school by 5.30am,” says Njoroge.
She explains that since the school is one kilometer away, she would take more time on the road and by the time she got to school, it would too late to finish the previous day’s homework. “Life was so hard. I didn’t know how exactly I would be able to come up with a fixed routine that would help me do my homework in time,” she adds.
This issue not only affected students within the school but also parents. Susan Masicha, a parent to one of the students, says the inability of children to do homework had become a crisis and affected the children’s esteem. What’s worse, purchasing kerosene became impossible due to lack of funds.
“Kerosene costs Sh20 per day, and sometime I am not able to raise that money. Most of the time, my children would not do anything at night,” she says.
Two years ago when the project was launched in the counties, General Electric and Givewatts thought it would be a bit difficult to convince parents to purchase the solar lamps. When they got to Naishi Primary School, one of the places with no electricity, they were able to bring about 50 parents on board.
Moses Wangoe, Givewatts project manager, says their main aim was to ensure children read with good lighting. “When we came to the school, we wanted to ensure that a good percentage of children’s marks improved,” Wagoe says.
In as much as the school had about 300 children, the organisations were only able to help about 50 households to get clean and safe electricity.
He adds that this initiative is not only embraced in Naishi Primary School but goes beyond 11 schools. “Through our partnership with General Electric, we have been able to help 250 children in both Nakuru and Laikipia.
The two organisations are keen to see the initiative extend to other counties with the similar problems.