One of the challenges we face is ensuring that our Mwezi lights are well looked after. We give light libraries of 16 lights to schools, who then lend them to pupils in remote homes. The pupils should share the lights between themselves so they can be accountable to each other. Occasionally a light will go missing, often at the end of the school year. We therefore ask the teachers to collect all the lights in before the end of the year.
In October 2019 we conducted our first solar audit. We asked all the teachers in the schools we support to make sure all the lights were in school on one day, and then to take a photo to send via WhatsApp to Julia and Dorcas. If lights were missing that day, they sent a subsequent photo with the missing lights. This enabled us to count the lights in the photos and gain an accurate idea of how many lights are still in circulation.
We were able to count 948 lights, from a total of 1170 donated over the past 4 years. Although it is disappointing to lose any lights, because that deprives children of light, we are realistic about the risks and the conditions in which our lights are used. As a result, we have now implemented the requirement for a photo of all the lights to be submitted before Dorcas or Julia visits, or for them to take a photo of the lights when they visit, before considering additional donations.
Many teachers don’t have smartphones and don’t have internet access, so we appreciated the effort involved in the fact that all 40 schools were able to report with photos and it was actually very delightful to see a snapshot of our Mwezi lights all over southeast Kenya in one week in October.