Meet 18-year-old Jonathan, who has been the head of his household since his parents passed away when he was 11. Since then Jonathan has had to shoulder responsibilities that no child should have to bear. He looks after four younger siblings, who are all now in school. He has been known to Lifeline Energy since 2004 when he first received one of our radios. Since the previous one had worn out and he's demonstrated community and family leadership, we wanted to provide him with a Prime. Jonathan has always been generous about inviting neighbours to listen. There are about 20 neighbour children, mostly orphans, who are in his listening 'club'. They especially enjoy two radio dramas, Urunana - which deals with health issues - and Musekeweya - which is themed around peace and reconciliation. In addition, they like to discuss news and current events.
Jonathan will be graduating from secondary school next year and wants to become a doctor. He says: "So many people have helped me and I want to be able to help others. The light in my new radio will help me stay up late to study for exams."
Lifeline Energy has distributed more than 16,000 Prime and earlier model solar and wind-up radios in Rwanda. We have reached an estimated 300,000 listeners living in child and widow-headed households.
Since we first launched the Lifeline radio in 2003 in Rwanda, more than 16,000 have been distributed mainly to child and widow-headed households. We are delighted that going forward, we will be distributing our new enhanced Prime solar and wind-up radio. In addition to providing child-only families with Prime radios enabling them to gain access to a wide range of programming, we are also distributing them to under-resourced schools. In the near future, English learning programmes for teachers and students will be broadcast. English has been made an official language of Rwanda and everyone is keen to learn it. Radios in classrooms also enable large numbers of children to listen to other helpful programmes about health, farming and environmental issues. Rwanda has the strictest environmental laws in Africa.
Lifeline Energy CEO Kristine Pearson recently traveled to Rwanda to check in on the radio project that is benefiting child headed households. This is the organization’s longest running project and one that she has personally been involved with since its inception in 2000. When Kristine began distributing radios the child-only households who had no access to radio, they tended to listen to international stations like Voice of America and the BBC, both which broadcast in the local language, Kinyarwanda. Nowadays, favored stations are overwhelmingly Radio Rwanda and community stations which broadcast programs in the areas where the families live. As always, the children speak of wanting to hear the news, the weather and the time. They are keenly interested in current events not only in Rwanda, but also in the countries that surround them. President Kagame makes weekly radio broadcasts as well and they enjoy listening to what he has to say immensely. In addition, the children always speak about practical radio programs like ones having to do with nutrition, health care, children’s right and most recently the environment. Rwanda has the toughest environmental laws on the continent and children now speak about climate change and global warming which they never did even as recently as two years ago. When they mention music, its gospel music, citing, “you have to be happy when you sing.”Lifeline Energy’s principal Rwandan partners are CARE, Fair Children Youth Foundation and Trust and Care. Over the years Lifeline Energy has distribution approximately 15,000 self-powered radios in Rwanda. Many more child headed families are anxiously waiting to receive theirs.
The Rwanda Radio Project For Orphans is our oldest and largest program and has benefited tens of thousands of children. Along with our partner CARE International, we help support children in the north and south provinces of Rwanda, and have received encouraging feedback. One 18-year-old girl said that after receiving her Lifeline radio, she was informed about a sponsorship program for school fees and has now secured funding to finish school.
With your tremendous support, Lifeline Energy is now expanding its Rwanda program in collaboration with CARE’s Early Childhood Development initiative.
According to recent figures, only 13 per cent of Rwandese children from 3-6 have access to pre-primary school. With our Lifeline radios, the children unable to attend school will have access to education and give them the social skills to facilitate their future. Research has shown that early-childhood development programs make children more eager to finish schooling and make children more responsible.
Targeting the most vulnerable, the radios will be distributed to children in the Kamonyi and Musanze districts that live with the elderly or chronically ill, the marginalized, female-headed households and the destitute. Our partnership with CARE International – who has been active in Rwanda since 1984 - will go live later this year.
The Lifeline radio provides on-demand information broadcast from local and international sources, thereby improving the quality of life and providing social support. Since it was first introduced in Rwanda, the radio has given children access to information on life skills, disease-prevention, child-care, HIV/AIDS, news, animal husbandry, among others.
FREEPLAY FOUNDATION IS NOW KNOWN AS LIFELINE ENERGY:
We are delighted to announce that from April our new name is Lifeline Energy.
Operating as Freeplay Foundation has served us well for the past 11 years, however, we feel that our new name better reflects our wider mission to tackle energy poverty head-on for the poorest and most vulnerable.
In addition to including Lifeline radios and Lifelights in projects and programs, in the near future Lifeline Energy will launch a brand new, revolutionary communications tool that we believe will have a profound impact on education and information access in the developing world. We will send you more news about this soon.
Lifeline Energy remains a 501 (c)(3) registered charity in the USA, a registered charity in the UK and is a Section 18A and 21 non-profit in South Africa. Please visit our redesigned website and learn more about Lifeline Energy; www.lifelineenergy.org. All email addresses that were formerly @freeplayfoundation.org will now be @lifelineenergy.org.
There are over 101,000 child headed households in Rwanda. The country still has a disproportionate number of vulnerable children living without adult guidance. Children are dealing with the effects of the incredibly high number of rapes that occurred during and after the war. Although Rwanda’s HIV/ AIDS rate is declining, down from 9% ten years ago, to an estimated 4%, most children we met were orphaned because of it. Most children have sacrificed their education to enable their younger siblings to attend school. Thanks to your donations, we distributed wind-up and solar-powered Lifeline radios to ensure these children have on demand access to crucial information and education.
The Lifeline radio provides guidance and education that would normally be given by a parent. We asked what young people listen to on the radios they received. The group said they listen to programs on children’s rights and learn how to be vocal about violence against women being against the law. For the first time, we heard groups speak openly about the future and working together for the benefit of all Rwandans. Without their Lifeline radios, they said these were new things that they would not know or easily be able to find out.
One radio was given to Jean de Dieu Bakundo’ family. Jean is 17, looks after his half-sisters, Helene, 12, Florentine, 9. Jean’s father died in the war and his mother remarried and gave birth to Helene and Florentine with the new husband but they both died in 2003 of TB. Jean has been caring for the girls ever since and is completely devoted to them. The radio content he finds most valuable is programming about childcare and children’s rights. He also said that because he never had the possibility to attend school, he feels a little humiliated however, the Lifeline radio gives him ‘a lot of knowledge about many things’.
We will continue to focus our research on the impact of dangerous kerosene, firewood and candles, and the harmful effects these have on vulnerable women and children. This better equips us to create clean energy products and to advocate approaches that reduce their use and improve quality of life.
Lifeline Energy remains a 501 (c)(3) registered charity in the USA, a registered charity in the UK and is a Section 18A and 21 non-profit in South Africa.Please visit our redesigned website and learn more about Lifeline Energy; www.lifelineenergy.org. All email addresses that were formerly @freeplayfoundation.org will now be @lifelineenergy.org.
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