Voices of Solar Lantern Users: India
We received a report from the Japanese Red Cross Society, engaging in humanitarian assistance in East Africa. Solar lanterns are bringing the light of hope to people's lives.
Dear Friends at Panasonic,
Hello. This is Maki Igarashi, Regional Representative for East Africa in the International Department of the Japanese Red Cross Society.
Today, solar lanterns donated by Panasonic are being used in Uganda, Burundi and Kenya. Lately, whenever we make our visits, we are reminded of the inspiring impact that light can have on people's lives.
In the northern part of Uganda, where scars of the long civil war that lasted until 2008 still remain, the Japanese Red Cross Society is implementing two projects. The first is the Safe Motherhood Project that provides health services for mothers and children at health centers in the Acholi Sub-Region. The second involves dispatching doctors, pharmacists, and nurses to the Dr. Ambrosoli Memorial Hospital, where they train local doctors and provide medical services. The solar lanterns are used at the health center and hospital when attending to nighttime childbirth and surgeries, as well as during patient rounds and consultations.
We received the following comment from Dr. Kazutada Oki, stationed at Dr. Ambrosoli Memorial Hospital.
"Unlike Japan, local hospitals here don't necessarily have bedside lights. When an emergency patient is carried in, the solar lanterns are extremely helpful for staff treating them. We also have frequent power failures at night. The room turns pitch black even during surgery, but thanks to the solar lanterns, we can continue our procedures without disruption."
In Burundi, people who were living as refugees abroad started coming back as returnees once the civil war ended in 2006. The returnees had to restart their lives from scratch. One of the greatest challenges today is how to support the independence of these most vulnerable people.
The villages that received the solar lantern donations are now home to many returnees, and the lanterns are put to use every day during the children's studies, while cooking, and during meals and family time. Some homes set the solar panels outside during the day and take turns standing guard while the lanterns charge so that they will not be stolen.
In Kenya, solar lanterns were distributed in Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp, with approximately 400,000 people.
Not only have the solar lanterns enabled children to study at night, they have also provided safety and security by reducing the risk of women becoming victims of sexual violence at night when going to outdoor toilets.
Seeing the genuine smiles and hearing words of gratitude from our recipients during the recent observation visit was an affirmation of the incredible impact that light brings to people's lives.
This light symbolically represents "the light of hope," bringing opportunities to those who had none before. We would like to continue working with local Red Cross staff and send you reports of more positive results that are certain to come.