As we reflect on our wonderful holiday season, I wanted to send out a final report on the Solar Light Project.
Your support, along with other friends of MLF USA, has enabled more than 500 families to read at night in rural Malawi. Mothers can sew, and chidren can do homework. They no longer have to worry about a candle falling over or the fumes from a kerosene lamp making them feel ill. The women to whom I have given solar lights, and talked with, are delighted with the ability of a small switch to produce so much power.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support of this project.
I hope you'll continue to support MLF USA during this holiday season as we introduce our new project in the Liwonde region of Malawi.
More poor women than ever are looking to the MicroLoan Foundation for help.
Together we can give them a hand-up, not a hand out
Here they are - our clients in the Limbikani Group who live near Liwonde, Southern Malawi. Two of our staff, Dick (on the right) and Ignatio were there to introduce and translate for me. They were not averse to having their photo taken, either!
I was able to visit, and sit and talk with the ladies earlier this month. Everyone was delighted and fascinated by the solar reading lights. Your donations made this possible, so a big "zikomo" (thank you) goes out to you from all the ladies. The on/off switch was a source of amazement. Switching on a light is automatic for us, for these ladies that little switch is, as one of the ladies remarked, a life changer.
The ladies in the photo have 34 children between them. Four of them take care of an orphan (parents died form HIV/AIDS). Of these 34 children, everyone who should be in school, was. The ladies made a big point of telling me that education is very important now, and they are saving their money to make sure they have enough to pay school fees when the children reach secondary school age. (Elementary school is free.) Everyone agreed that their lives were improving since they started with the MicroLoan Foundation. I asked them to tell me how, and here is a sample what they said:
(Front row, right) Alice: "Now I have enough money to give my children breakfast before they go to school."
(Front row, 2nd right) Bertha: "I've been able to buy a plot of land. When I save more money, I'm going to build a house and grow my own vegetables."
(Back row right) Roseby: "I was able to buy another cooking pot and some utensils. I want to buy a plot of land so that I can keep more chickens." Roseby has 19 chickens at the moment, but wants more egg layers, so that she can sell eggs at the market or to a restaurant.
(Back row, 3rd left) Loveness, Chairlady of the group, currently bakes and sells scones. She would like to have a mushroom farm. She told me that because she was making good profits from her business, she was able for the first time to buy some chairs for her house.
(Front row, left) Dora, the most experienced MicroLoan client in the group, had used some profit from her rice and bean selling store to purchase a bed. She said, " with this little light, I will be able to sit in bed and knit. Blessings on you."
A small item having a big impact. Thank you so much for your support.
Summer has arrived here in New England, and there have been many days in the last couple of weeks when I have thanked my lucky stars for the air conditioner in the window.
Women in Malawi will be waiting many years for an air conditioner, but many of them now have a solar light or solar power kit to get through the evening hours. They can continue to sew, perform household chores and read. Their children are able to complete homework, with out being overcome with fumes from a kerosene lamp.
Recently, I had the opportunity to share information about our work and the impact the solar lights have on our clients, with a group of business people in LA. More than 100 donated a light for the women in Malawi. That translates into 100 households have a safe, renewable light source for more than a year. As each of our clients have on average 5 children, this means at least 600 people are benefiting from this generosity. I will be taking the lights with me on my trip to Malawi later this year.
Thanks to your generosity, and the support of offline donors, we have very nearly reached our goal. We hope to do this before September, and cannot thank you enough for supporting the women and their families in Malawi. Please continue to let your friends and family know of our work.
Spring is here in New England, and the days are getting longer but in Malawi it still gets dark at 6pm.
With many thanks to a generous donor, we will be sending 350 lights to the women in Malawi in the next few weeks. Women in one of our client groups will have the opportunity to start their own businesses selling these lights and begin the climb out of poverty. We want to be able to keep supplying them with these lights so they may have sustainable livelihoods for years to come. To do that, we continue to need your support, and the support of your friends and colleagues.
Here is a way you can help today, without having to spend a dime - though we are always willing to take any dimes you want to send our way!
MLF USA is entered for a mini-grant award. All we need are VOTES to win so please take a minute and help our Solar Entrepreneurs Light up the Night!
Here's what to do:
We need to garner as many votes as we can by 12 noon on April 17, 2012, so please pass this message along.
If we receive the mini-grant, 250 more families will have a safe, renewable source of power to Light up their Nights
Our small solar lights are a big hit with the women in Malawi. They can read and sew in the evenings, and their children can do their homework without having to rely on a kerosene lamp or poor candle. As these lamps last for a year without needing a battery change, the women are also saving money as they no longer need to buy kerosene. With the gas crisis in Malawi increasing the price of many basic commodities, even kerosene had become a luxury for some families.
Soflet, one of MicroLoan's solar entrepreneurs and the Chairperson of a loan group in a village near Kasungu, Malawi, says it best:
"The solar lights have improved our lives and our community. Since taking a loan with the MicroLoan Foundation, and starting my own solar business, I can provide good food for my family, pay school fees for my older children and make improvements to my house. Everyone should have a solar light, and a solar kit to power a radio and mobile phone."
We take turning on a light switch for granted, but in rural Malawi, without electricity, a small solar light is changing lives and communities. Thank you on behalf of Soflet and many more poor women.
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