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...
Feb 2, 2016

1,000 Days of Motherhood is a lifeline to knowledge and learning

We’re excited to report that the 1,000 Days of Motherhood program will soon be rolled out in Zambia’s Eastern Province, which borders Malawi and Mozambique.  With the goal of reaching another 540 women’s listening groups, that means an additional 11,000 vulnerable mothers will be reached with high quality nutrition education radio content covering the first 1,000 days from conception.

Childhood stunting in the Eastern Province is at alarming levels, due to poverty, erratic food security and a lack of knowledge about nutrition and health issues.  It’s also an area where illiteracy amongst rural women is more than 80%, which is why audio content in local languages is so valuable. In our trip to the Eastern Province this month, we picked up that many women do not have the correct information on matters like breastfeeding, or the importance of protein, for example. 

In recent years, the cost of electricity in Zambia has quadrupled. One of the knock-on effects of this is that the cost of radio airtime has doubled, making it increasingly expensive to broadcast radio programs. The 1,000 Days of Motherhood programming, pre-recorded onto our Lifeplayers, means that women’s listening groups can listen to programs at their own convenience, without having to rely on broadcasts.  As the majority of mothers are subsistence farmers, they can adjust listening times according to what is best during the rainy season, planting months, harvesting periods and so forth. Mothers also tell us that listening in a group is best because they can discuss what they learn with each other.

Plans are underway to produce new content too. The Food and Nutrition Commission and their partners are currently looking at what other health information women will find most beneficial.

The 1,000 Days of Motherhood program gives so many women in Zambia a lifeline to knowledge and education that directly benefits their own health and that of their children. We’re delighted that so many more women are soon going to be a part of the learning!

Jan 4, 2016

Radio schools are becoming even more radio-active!

Chipeko and Joyce love the Lifeplayer!
Chipeko and Joyce love the Lifeplayer!

We ended 2015 with a productive trip to Zambia, to connect again with our partners and visit schools that are using our solar and wind-up Lifeplayer MP3s.  What a wonderful trip it was, too!

We’re excited to report that the Ministry of Education has committed to installing a radio transmitter with a national footprint, which will have dedicated channels just for education programs. The first programs to be broadcast will be Learning at Taonga Market, the interactive radio instruction (IRI) lessons that have been used in the country for the past 12 years. This means children everywhere in the country will be able to access radio school; and even government schools may decide to listen, given the severe shortage of trained teachers. We’ll be working with the Ministry to supply more Lifeplayers to community schools, beyond what we had initially thought.  This exciting news means we'll be able to support many more students and their teaching mentors.

Although we hadn’t planned for our Lifeplayers to be placed into urban schools as a priority, we visited an elementary school in Lusaka through our old friend Mr Mvula, the very first teaching mentor we worked with in Zambia. Impossibly crowded with 5,000 students, the school runs two shifts a day; one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Of the students, 75% are orphans, all are from poor families, and double shifts are the only way to cope with the number of children enrolled. Even so, each class has around 130 children.  The job of teaching such large classes is made more difficult by a lack of resources and basic supplies like chalk. Having Lifeplayers provides an outstanding solution to support teaching at these urban schools.  

As a second grade teacher told us, “If I had a Lifeplayer half the class would listen to the radio teacher, while the rest could listen to me. Then we could switch. Having a radio teacher is like having a teaching assistant.  It would be such a help to me and a benefit to the children because they love the lessons.”  And we saw for ourselves how much they enjoyed learning through songs, dance and movement.  This school alone wants 20 Lifeplayers – and as soon as possible!

We’re looking forward to another trip to Zambia in the near future, where we’ll be visiting community schools in the eastern part of the country.  With your help, we can help provide a high quality, basic education to hundreds, even thousands of learners, for around $1 per student.  One Lifeplayer reaches at least 60 learners and often it’s more than 100.  We think it's a great investment! 

Dec 17, 2015

Saluting our partners who are providing education to children in Sierra Leone

Photograph courtesy of Child to Child
Photograph courtesy of Child to Child

At the height of Sierra Leone’s Ebola epidemic, the country was reporting hundreds of new cases each week. Radio was vital in communicating practical information that helped keep people informed on how to prevent catching the virus; what to do and where to go if they suspected they were infected; and how quarantines would impact them; and much more. While the epidemic is over, the value of information is no less important than it was a year ago. Our radios and media players remain just as important because the poor are unable to afford the ongoing cost of batteries. 

We are working with a number of organizations in Sierra Leone. In this report, we’d like to highlight the important educational initiatives of two of our partners: Child to Child and Develop Africa.

Child to Child is working in the Kissi region, a remote area where the Ebola outbreak started on the western frontier with Guinea. Their educational radio programs to improve children’s social, literacy, numeracy and life skills have been so well received that the government plans to broadcast them nationally. What we’re most pleased about is that Child to Child have reported how happy they are with our Lifeplayers MP3 media players and Prime radios, saying that there “has been a great deal of praise about the choice of radios and their suitability for the project. They are child friendly and powerful so a large group of children can listen. The alternative powering is perfect as there are next to no generators in our operational areas.” Formal listening groups have been set up in communities that received radios, and adults have been trained to encourage children to listen to the radio content.  Radio is by far the most effective means of communication in this isolated area. 

Develop Africa’s project focuses on pregnant teenagers, who are banned from attending school once they are visibly pregnant. The rate of teenage pregnancy spiked dramatically after the outbreak of the Ebola virus, leaving thousands of young girls with reduced hope of furthering their education. In reality, few girls will return to school once their babies are born. Develop Africa is providing an alternative education experience for these girls: not only in literacy and numeracy, but also career and psycho-social counselling, using radio, computers and videos. Our Polaris radios enable the girls to listen to educational radio broadcasts from the Ministry of Education.  The light helps them see at night to increase security when walking. 

For children in Sierra Leone, the impact of Ebola has been nothing short of catastrophic.  Many have lost one or both parents. Unicef has reported anecdotal evidence of sexual assault and transactional sex among underage girls, one of the reasons cited for the increased pregnancy rates among teenagers.

We salute the efforts of our partners who are providing these children with the education and information they so desperately need. And we’re thrilled that it’s our solar Lifeplayers, and Prime and Polaris radios that provide easy access to that learning!

Photograph courtesy of Develop Africa
Photograph courtesy of Develop Africa

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