Unite to Light Blog

A Single Solar Light:
In His Own Words 

April 9, 2020

For students living without electricity, having a solar light increases graduation rates by 20-30%. We have seen this success in South Africa when we examine test scores in exit exams (called matrics) before and after the students have access to our solar lights. Giving students the opportunity to study at night is our goal; we aim to boost their education and increase opportunities. But for those of us that live with electricity, the day-to-day reality of these students can be difficult to imagine. We recently received a note from one of these students and want to share it with you here. 

Ngcebo is an orphan living with his three siblings and tells us how he and his brothers use their solar Luke Light. The words below are his own and we’ve added parenthesis where we think clarification for terms will help translate the story. 

Ngcebo at his desk studying in South Africa.

One Student’s Story
"My name is Ngcebo Mdletshe. I am 16 years old. I am doing Grade 12 at Amandlethu High School at Ingwavuma [in South Africa]. Our school got solar lights in 2017 when I was doing Grade 9 and my brother Sipho was doing Grade 12. By then he had a solar light which he used to light up the house for our supper and then do his homeworks and study. Sipho was the eldest child at home since our parents are no more. We are living in a rondavel [a traditional circular African dwelling with a conical thatched roof] and we are four all boys. The other two brothers are doing grades 10 and 8. 

The light has been useful to us in such a way that we don't have a stress of money for paraffin and candles because we used to buy candles and we had a paraffin lamp which we used for our homeworks and school work. My brother was amongst the 4 students who got 6 level 7s and 1 level 6 in his matric results [level 7 is the highest score on the matric exams] and he is now at the University doing biochemistry with the bursary [scholarship] he got from the Department of Education. 

An example of a rondavel, where the boys live, in South Africa

Now since I am in matric I have a solar light which I am sharing with my younger brothers. The light helps us not only with our school work. We use it for fetching water at night. We have cows that we inherited from our parents, sometimes they move out of the kraal [corral] at night and we use the light to collect them back to the kraal. 

My test scores are good because I use my light to do my studies every night from 21h00 to 24h00 and I am hoping that my final performance will be excellent because I don't have an excuse of not having money for candles. The light also serves as a motivator to my siblings. We all do our school work and we feel safe when using it. 

Thank you for giving us this useful and lifesaver equipment which has made us to be committed and dedicated to our school work without the supervision of an adult at home."

It is students like Ngcebo and his siblings that keep us excited about our work. These young men have encountered many obstacles in their lives and are still fighting for a chance to thrive. To learn more about our projects in South Africa, visit here:  

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