LightsOnImage (1)“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” – Amelia Earhart

22 million rural Kenyans have no light in their homes, and that includes many of Horizon Initiative’s neighbors in the communities where they work in rural Kenya.  Horizon has responded by initiating a community outreach program, distributing more than 600 solar lanterns to families in need. This is the story of one little girl and her family whose lives were changed through these efforts.

As a young girl, Esther would come to the gate of Horizon’s micro-community and children’s home called Baba Nyumbani, Swahili for ‘Daddy is home’. She would look in, longing to play with the kids laughing inside the protected walls of the community. Just down the dirt path, Esther lives in a two room house on a small piece of land with her sick grandmother. Her father is not in the picture, and her mom is HIV positive and rarely home. It’s believed that she travels frequently to find work, leaving Esther to care for her grandmother and their property — a big responsibility for a child. Horizon’s team was aware of the family’s hardships, and determined a solar lantern would be of great benefit to them. Little did Horizon know that this light would create even more opportunity than they had anticipated.

On a pitch black night, the team visited Esther’s home to see how the lantern was working. They arrived upon the home lit by a hopeful glow, and found the family inside gathered around their bright solar lantern with next door neighbors. Everyone made room for the Horizon team to sit down, and as they settled in, Esther broke into tears of gratitude, her face in her hands, for the gift of light. Previously, Esther could only study at night by the dim light of their kerosene lamp, but only when they had enough money for fuel. Esther knew that education was her most powerful tool, and the solar lantern was a hand up for her to further pursue that opportunity. Now, she can study even when the sun goes down. Now there are enough hours in the day.

As a result of their lantern, Esther’s grades improved, and her grandmother’s respiratory health benefited, as she was no longer breathing in the dirty kerosene fumes. They were also able to save more money to put toward food, medicine, and Esther’s education, instead of costly kerosene fuel.

During that visit, the team learned that Esther needed just $25 to cover her remaining tuition and finish her 8th grade school year. She was an ideal candidate for high school and had already been extended an offer to attend a prestigious boarding school. Very few Kenyans have this opportunity, and Horizon’s team knew this was a need they could fill.

Today, Esther is in Form 3 (Grade 11) at a local boarding high school. Her lantern has aided her studies for three years now. It continues to bring security to her frail grandmother, who uses the LED lamp as a flashlight outside her home at night.

For the people of Kenya, light is hope. And for Horizon Initiative, the simple innovation of a solar lantern is yet another tool to encourage the self-sufficiency of those living in poverty.

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A few words from Horizon:

We never imagined that this outreach initiative – this ‘side project’ – would so clearly demonstrate the seemingly small barriers to success that we take for granted every day. But it has. It’s allowed us to play a small role in improving the quality of life for our neighbors in rural Africa. Many thanks to all of you who generously support this initiative; you are changing the lives of many families in need.

Join us here at Tellus360 on Thursday, February 19 for LIGHTS ON: A Night For A Brighter Africa, a benefit event in support of this cause with special musical performance by award-winning soul, jazz and funk artist Vinx. Visit Horizon Initiative for more info.

Horizon Initative is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Lancaster, PA with a mission of rescuing and empowering orphaned children to self-sustainability through a micro-community model. 100% of outside donations go directly toward their work on the ground.

This post was written by Amy Haller, Director of Marketing at Horizon Initiative.