Newsletters and Progress

How happy a person can be to receive a solar light

Lights in communities handed out by Sarah & Jesse Lea

Fiji - Village of Veidrala

Rotary International Conference June 2014

Solar lights to live by
Tuesday, 14 May 2013, 3:26 pm

Press Release: Women in Business Development                        
Women in Business President Sheree Stehlin (left), Apia Rotarian Robyn O’Dell and Malie farmer Ioane Paulo (front) show off a six pack of solar-powered lights.

Solar-powered lights to live by, read by and save by are the focus of a Rotary Apia project that is being run in partnership with Women in Business.

Rotarian Robyn O’Dell says the solar-powered lights should improve the quality of life for families without power and reduce power bills for other families.

“We also see the lights increasing safety in the home by replacing kerosene lamps,” says O’Dell.

She says these solar lights have been used in renewable energy projects in Papua New Guinea with great success, and it was the first time they were being offered in Polynesia.

The sturdy Flexiway lights are sold individually and can be clicked together to form larger units. On a full charge, the powerful 9cmx9cm lights will give off six to eight hours of light or up to 12-15 hours on the 50 per cent setting.

“We received seed funding Rotary groups in Australia and Apia Rotary covered the wharf costs,” says O’Dell. “Now, Women in Business will begin to sell the lights to families across Samoa for a small price.”

She says the proceeds from the lights, which are being discounted to farming families at $20, will be used buy more lights to help more families in Samoa.

Ioane Paulo, a vegetable farmer from Malie, was the first recipient to receive the lights last week. His family lives in three Samoan fale and use a mixture of kerosene lamps and electric lights.

“We had no power for weeks after Tropical Cyclone Evan and we often have power cuts in our area so we have to use the hurricane lamps,” says Paulo.

“We are so grateful to Rotary and Women in Business for thinking of us and I congratulate them for bringing a project like this to Samoa, because we are not able to buy lights like these here.”

Paulo said he felt “blessed” to be the first family to have the lights and they came at good time because of Mother’s Day.

Women in Business president Sheree Stehlin also thanked O’Dell and Rotary for their initiative.

“Lighting is very important for our people, especially for our children who do their homework at night.

“We commend Rotary for this project and for all the work they do in the community.” 

Solar lighting boost for Samoan villages

Updated 17 May 2013, 9:51 AEST

There'll soon be light past the end of the power lines in Samoa with a plan to provide solar lighting kits to small isolated villages.

Solar lighting boost for Samoan villages (Credit: ABC) click here

Women in Business and the Apia Rotary club with assistance from Australian Rotary Clubs will provide the kits that have proved successful in Papua New Guinea.

The solar lights will replace people's reliance on kerosene fuelled hurricane lamps and cut their weekly expenses.

Presenter: Campbell Cooney

Speaker: Robyn O'Dell, Apia Rotary

O'DELL; they’re a unique affordable lightweight robust solar light. They're about 9 by 9 centimetres. They can be clicked together to form a panel to make any number of lights for greater expanses of buildings, but mostly I see them having a couple clipped together, going to allow kids to do their homework under very good lighting and read.

This is in line with another wonderful Rotary project that's just about to be completed, where we've delivered 100,000 books to every primary school in Samoa, and also built library shelves. This has been a very ambitious program and we're very excited to have done this. So these solar lights go hand-in-hand with this. Now, they'll be able to read these beautiful new books and we're promoting reading in this country, which is resources, of course, sadly lacking in schools.

COONEY: OK. So how is the roll out going to work? Where will it be going and how do you get it out there and I suppose who is funding it?

O'DELL: Well, the seed funding did come from Graeme Boler, who’s from Sutherland Rotary, who has great plans for in fact, lighting up all of the Pacific. Once we finish our roll out plan, based on the way we've done it, we'll have a set framework for it, how this can be achieved and this can be passed onto other Pacific nations.

We work with, one of our organisations we work with is Women in Business. They're a marvellous group of local Samoans, who work closely with farming communities, particularly encouraging organic farming and they have field workers going out every day and they will be distributing these lights to the working farming families.

In that process, they will identify families who are very needy and we hope to fill that gap as well by providing lights for free. But mostly, everyone will pay for it, which is a great thing, because it's a very much a donor handout society, and when people can pay for it they have more a sense of pride in doing that and more proud in the product they have.

They're getting 20 kana, which is about 8 Australian dollars, which is very reasonable, extremely reasonable. As I said the seed funding has come from a consortium of Rotary Clubs in Australia. Graeme Boler, from Sutherland, being the leader on this.

Once we collect all those funds that will be returned to them they will then repurchase and send to us a new batch of lights to be distributed. So the objective thing or the target being is to provide solar lights to as many households as possible.

COONEY; so there is no upper limit on this. As long as people are prepared to take them, provide a fairly minimal payment, it can then be spread out to even more people?

O'DELL: Absolutely that's the plan.

COONEY; and as you mentioned there, you're doing it in Samoa. You'd like to see this rolled out in I think I mentioned at the start there. It's also proved successful in Papua New Guinea, these kits as well?

O'DELL: That's correct. But I believe we are the first in Polynesia to embrace this little product and it will be. I think the cost comparisons are enormous, electricity costs here are very, very expensive. They import, ship in their oil and but you're using cash card prepaid power households here and they might not pay for so many hours and suddenly they'll run out of light, can't afford to pay anymore and then they're in the dark. So it could work, these solar lights then become very much into play. The solar lighting also is in line with government objectives of renewable energy, so it ticks all the boxes, really.

Lights being distributed in communities around the world