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Noel is a shy young, single mother of six children from Eldoret, Kenya, living in an area called Kapsoya. Her husband died five years ago as a result of a road accident, leaving her as the sole caregiver and provider for her children.
At only 32 she is already a grandmother to one granddaughter from her first born daughter, Lynette*. Noel and all her children, including her granddaughter, live in a one-bedroom house in the sprawling peri-urban settlement around Eldoret.
Due to her circumstances, Noel and her children were enrolled in the SOS Family Strengthening Program (FSP) – a program aimed at supporting vulnerable families, like Noel’s, so that the family will remain together and be able to face hardships that life may bring.
The FSP typically offers assistance to families in the form of healthcare, education and capacity building. Along with this support, Noel received a “Little Sun” sun cell lamp from Xellia. Before the lamp came their way, life after sunset was very difficult. Noel says she would rush to complete all her activities before dark then made due with a locally improvised light known as a “koroboi”. This is a paraffin lit tin container with a wick in the middle that, once lit, offered dim light for a short period of time.
The smell of the paraffin in a small room that is not properly ventilated, like Noel’s home, can be overwhelming. According to Noel her life has changed after receiving the sun cell lamp. She recalls that neighbours would laugh at her for always being in the dark and not being able to do more after dark. Now, all she needs to do is to put the lamp out in the sun during the day to be fully charged and when it is dark she can use the lamp to light up her entire home all the way up to her family’s bedtime.
The lamp, she says, has highly reduced her children’s getting colds, which was common when she was using the “koroboi” as a result of the paraffin smell and its usage. It would affect the children’s chests. Noel is also happy that her daughter, Miranda* can comfortably do her homework after dark, and after playing out longer with her friends. As her daughter does her homework, Noel is also able to continue with her household chores without any hurry.
SOS Children’s Villages will ensure that families like Noel continue to get bigger and more efficient lamps than the ones families have now, to enable the family to have even better lighting and enhance their quality of life.
*Names changed to protect the privacy of the children.