After sunset, the Mbila District in KwaZulu-Natal is plunged into darkness, and without any lighting, their workday ends. Candlelight is their only option. But a number of families cannot afford the R40 it costs each month to light a single room. And if they do turn to candles, they always run the risk of their homes catching alight. Khanya Njalo, an aid initiative created in 2014, aims to bring light to the rural community.
The project was started by Tyrone Bull, who worked in the area for a year until realising he could make a difference. Khanya Njalo, which means, "to shine forever", hoped to provide these communities with a sustainable source of light. The answer to this problem was found in solar powered lighting.
Using local services to manufacture the solar units at a cost-effective price, the project aimed to make them affordable and simultaneously dismiss the opinion that alternative energy sources are primarily for the wealthy.
According to the initiative, “As part of community development access to basic amenities like electricity should be a right, but there are forgotten areas who continue to live in darkness. Through an act of active citizenry, coupled with innovation, the first step to lights in this community is a revolutionary one.”
The addition of light after dark has kept more of the community's children in school. Before the initiative's efforts were realised, a large number of kids in the area would drop out or fail because they could not study in the evenings. According to Tyrone Bull, “The failure rate in some Zululand schools is 87% because the children have no access to light to study by.”
The project hopes to positively affect these children by fuelling their studies and promoting education.
Bull adds, "By donating to this project you will be directly responsible for lighting a home and, as a by-product, support the education of the Mbila District children."
The project has been fruitful. To date, they have successfully installed 50 solar powered lights. However, Bull’s personal finances are exhausted and so he has turned to crowdfunding to raise money for the project and to get locals actively involved in the initiative. The campaign has recently been launched on Indiegogo's crowdfunding platform Generosity, with an aim to install 2000 more solar power lights in the area.