Lifeline Energy

Lifeline Energy is a non-profit social enterprise that provides sustainable information and education access to vulnerable populations. We achieve this by designing, manufacturing and distributing solar and wind-up media players and radios for classroom and group listening. Since 1999, we have distributed more than 500,000 power independent radios to provide on-demand access to information and education, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the years we have received numerous awards including the Tech Museum of Innovation Award, a World Bank Development Marketplace Award and an Index: Design to Improve Life Award. In addition, our founder and CEO Kristine Pearson was named one of TIME magazi...
Oct 31, 2012

Ensuring education through the Lifeplayer MP3

Lifeline Energy’s chief executive officer, Kristine Pearson visited community schools in Zambia this month. She’s convinced, now more than ever, that the Lifeplayer is urgently needed!

Read an excerpt from her Zambia Diary blog about the Lifeplayer’s importance for providing educational access, especially for difficult subjects:

With each school classroom I visit, I ask the children what they want to learn if they could learn anything. The most common responses of 8-13 year-olds surprised me.  These are kids whose only clothes may be the ones on their backs and may eat just one meal of maize porridge per day.  They may be orphaned, child labourers, or care givers to sick parents.  The top response was science; the second was mathematics. They said that science would help them to better understand mysteries and to learn how many things work.  Qualified teachers in science and math are scarce.
 
With the acute shortage of trained teachers, particularly in rural areas coupled with increasing student enrollment, obtaining a quality primary education presents a host of challenges for the Ministry of Education.  More than a decade ago they began producing Learning at Taonga Market, a radio-based primary school programme which is broadcast on ZNBC, the national broadcaster, and community radio stations.  In turn, we’ve provided our solar and wind-up radios to where ever children learn in Zambia, even if it’s under a tree.  Radio offers the possibility of reaching the greatest number of learners the most cost effectively, especially for subjects like science.  It’s a reliable distribution channel to deliver educational content to large audiences of learners and to teachers in need of upgrading their skills.
 
And like all technologies, radio has limitations, which is why we introduced MP3 capability into our device.  Valleys and far flung communities might not receive a signal.  If a girl misses a lesson, she can make it up.  If a boy doesn’t understand a concept, he can listen again and again until he does. During the rainy season when roads or small streams might become impassable, entire classes can catch up once it becomes safe.

Broadcasting on ZNBC is expensive and eats deeply into the Ministry of Education’s budget. If it can’t pay for broadcasting fees, ZNBC simply stops airing the Taonga programmes.  I discovered that after five months of being off the air around Lusaka, schools lessons will begin again later in October.  Further, due to the high broadcasting costs, the ministry is scaling back Grades 4-7 on air, meaning that tens of thousands of learners might not receive an education, or certainly not the quality and consistency that Taonga Market offers.Even some community station fees are becoming unaffordable.

Links:

Jul 2, 2012

A #ToangaMarket child's view on solar v batteries

Moon City Community School, Lusaka
Moon City Community School, Lusaka

When Lifeline Energy recently went to the Moon City community school in Lusaka we had the pleasure of meeting Sharon Banda, a remarkable 14-year old who told us how much she adored the Toanga Market programme. She explained how the radio distance initiative had given her an education and future. What struck us most of all was not only her love for education but also her admiration for solar-energy. 

When asked why solar and wind-up radios are important, she immediately responded: 

"We had a radio that needed batteries but when the battery went flat we didn’t have money to buy new ones. Now we have a new radio that doesn’t need batteries, so we won’t suffer and we can use it all the time."

Sharon is just one of close to 900,000 #ToangaMarket children. Tweet #ToangaMarket to show your support for this truly unique educational programme.  


Jul 21, 2011

Radios easing “one of the biggest gaps” in Japan's recovery

Lifeline Energy’s radio-lights are helping ease “one of the biggest gaps” in Japan’s post-disaster recovery – reliable access to information and services. This and other feedback concerning an immigrant listening community, were listed in Oxfam Japan’s latest progress report.

The progress report – written four months after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan – indicates that Lifeline Energy’s radios are providing critical information on “assistance and protection”. The report - produced by our in-country partner, Oxfam Japan - states that our radios are providing information on people’s “rights, where they can get assistance, services and protection.” The radios are not only helping the local Japanese population, but are also aiding immigrants from the Philippines and Latin America. 

Lifeline Energy teamed up with GlobalGiving and Oxfam Japan soon after the tsunami hit Japan to provide more than 20,000 all-in-one wind-up and solar powered radio-lights, known as the Polaris. Since then, Japan has faced a near nuclear meltdown and, on a positive note, won the Women’s World Cup football.

However, full recovery is still years away.  According to the Oxfam Japan report, almost 100,000 people are still displaced – of whom more than 24,000 are living in evacuation centres. Also, roughly 40,000 households still lack access to electricity. The Polaris is not only providing information access but also has a built-in LED light.

The Filipino and Latin American communities have benefited greatly from our radio-lights. Twenty community radio stations in Tagalog and Spanish have been created specifically for this large populace. According to recent statistics, there are more than 300,000 Latin Americans – mainly from Brazil and Peru - while there are close to 200,000 Filipinos in Japan. Following the Chinese and Korean communities, Latin American and Filipinos are the third and fourth largest immigrant communities in Japan respectively. 

The Oxfam Japan report highlights the importance of addressing the needs of immigrant communities in Japan, saying that they are receiving little attention from other agencies working in the country.

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