Today in developing countries there is still lack of access to basic needs such as electricity. Thus, it is important to teach children how to generate light in a sustainable way, which can benefit the improvement of their living conditions and make an impact on their communities.
The project started in Kenya. The idea was to provide children with safe electricity. Most of them still use kerosene lamps for studying during the night. Such lamps are toxic and highly threatening for their lives and families. Thanks to the support of Siemens Stiftung, the project has now equipped several schools in Africa and South America, among them, one in Peru, with a 10-Watt Solar Light System, a recharging station, and LED lights. Now children learn how to use solar cells and build their own lights.
In Peru, “Niños del Arco Iris” school is one of the schools that has received the Solar Light System, as part of the Experimento program. “Fundación Niños del Arco Iris” is a Peruvian-Dutch foundation, founded by Helena van Engelen 14 years ago. After arriving in Urubamba-Cusco, she decided to improve the living conditions of vulnerable Quechua children by providing them with educational and integral support.
Urubamba is a valley surrounded by the Peruvian Andes, full of history and culture from the Inca Empire. The Incas, like many other ancient cultures lived in harmony with nature and admired the sun as it was a synonym of light, life, orientation, power, prosperity, and wealth. Thus, light played a central role in their lives.
Nowadays, light is a luxury for many in Urubamba. However, with the Solar Light System, fourth-grade students from “Niños del Arco Iris” school learned how to build their own solar system with simple materials such as: cables, a solar panel, a charge controller, rechargeable batteries, a battery charger and LED lamps.
After building the solar system, it was successfully installed in the home of three students, benefiting the entire family. The students learned how solar panels are environmentally friendly, sustainable, with easy installation, and economically beneficial to their families and communities.
“When the sun rises, it charges the solar panel with energy, then the energy goes to the battery and the bulb turns on. Suddenly, the night is bright”. Aníbal, 7 years old.
The “Fundación Niños del Arco Iris” perceive the solar light project as an opportunity to make an impact by transferring the knowledge of simple and modern techniques, together with Urubamba’s ancient indigenous knowledge. In the future, the project is expected to continue and to keep motivating children at an early age about science, technology, alternative energies, and caring about the environment. The potential of learning can certainly make a difference in vulnerable communities in the long-term.
The responsibles of the project are Erika Coronado (left) and Haiko Beeren (right). This Peruvian-Dutch couple form the daily management of the Foundation. In the past, Erika was a member of the board at the mother foundation in Holland, while Haiko contributed as a volunteer. Nowadays, in their role as managers, they keep building bridges between Europe and Peru, as well as between the Foundation in Urubamba and the communities around it.