A solar-powered schoolbag

South African company Rethaka has designed a recycled bag with a solar light that charges during the day so children can study at night.

Kids living in South Africa’s low-income communities often don't have safe sources of light to do their homework by. Alongside this, they also have the daily danger of walking to and from school in the dark during winter. In order to ease these everyday problems, Rethaka has designed the Repurpose Schoolbag.

The bag includes a removable solar light, which charges during the day. When the child gets home, the solar light can be removed from the bag and screwed onto a Consol glass jar, providing a lamp that will last for up to 12 hours. The solar light means children can do their homework, even during power cuts, without breathing the fumes or risking the fires often caused by kerosene lamps. Rethaka is a Rustenberg-based, all-women company who is committed to finding sustainable solutions for problems affecting impoverished communities, with particular attention given to children and women.

Rethaka developed the bags using an eco-friendly and durable material made from recycled plastic bags. Aside from being sustainable, the material is also waterproof and includes strips of retro-reflective fabric to ensure visibility during a child’s daily commute – an important, life-saving feature, considering that three children die on South African roads every day.

The bags have been designed to come in many different colour-ways and with different detailing, so that the look (as well as the use) of the bag is uplifting for the children. When distributing the bags, Rethaka look for disadvantaged schools with students who have no access to basic school supplies. They then find a partner, who is willing to fund the production of the bags for a particular school. The “Giving Partners” are introduced to the school they are funding, so that they can get to know the kids and the staff.



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