Every single solar light that we hand out to a student in Kenya has been assembled by our Technical Manager, John, in his workshop in Likoni. In addition to constructing the lights, John is responsible for repairing any that break, and recycling the components of those which are unfixable.
Our Schools Managers, Julia and Antony, are the face of the Mwezi Foundation for our beneficiaries in Kenya. They identify new schools for us to support, visit them, and introduce them to the Mwezi Foundation. They then visit each school two to three times a year to maintain an ongoing relationship, monitor KCPE results, and collect in any broken lights for repair. After their visits, they maintain personal contact with each school via WhatsApp or text.
Julia and Antony travel to our schools (via the matatu minibuses and then by motorbike) to deliver the solar lights. During their visits, they explain how the solar lights work to the pupils, and are strict with the schools about the importance of caring for them properly.
Both of our Schools Managers are in almost daily contact with the Directors, keeping them updated regarding conditions on the ground and advising them on whether we should be donating more solar lights. They keep up with our ever-increasing requests for data management and impact reporting, whilst also highlighting the challenges involved in collecting the data and assessing the impact!
John is Mr Mwezi light. He assembles the solar lights, services them and fixes broken ones. He has been with us since the beginning, in 2014. John provides a weekly stock report and liaises with the Directors regarding component orders.
When he’s not in his workshop, John loves watching football and supporting his favourite team, Chelsea.
Julia is responsible for maintaining an ongoing relationship with our schools across south-east Kenya. She joined us in May 2019, from a background in education.
Julia has her own portfolio of schools, and she visits each school at least twice a year. On each visit, she teaches the school’s students how to use their new Mwezi solar lights and how to take care of them. She then discusses the progress that the students are making with the teachers, and answers any queries or questions that they might have. Finally, she will take lots of pictures of the class with their new solar lights!
Antony joined us earlier this year, making him the newest member of the team. Like Julia, he has his own portfolio of schools who he is responsible for visiting twice a year, monitoring the progress of the students, and collecting in broken lights for repair.
Antony describes himself as a family person, and likes to spend his free time with his wife and children. He also loves watching football, and used to be an amateur footballer.
Mike is the original Director of the Mwezi Foundation, having been involved since its incorporation in 2014.
He originally qualified as a barrister in 1976 and worked for the Hong Kong Government for 10 years before returning to the UK. After qualifying as a solicitor, he founded a legal practice in 1993 of which he is still senior partner, though he has largely retired from legal work.
Claire joined the Mwezi Foundation in 2015 and is primarily responsible for liaising with the Schools Managers and the schools directly, where appropriate. In her day job she is the Research Director for an M&A Consultancy firm. Claire has extensive experience of travel in Africa, having grown up in South Africa and The Gambia, as part of a diplomatic family, then having led UK trade missions across Africa. She is familiar with the ‘challenges’ of operating in Africa and so helps ensure the Mwezi Foundation works at a grassroots level, in direct contact with the beneficiary schools, which she finds to be the most efficient and effective way of helping the next generation.
Sue Dawson-Coltman (Doods)
Through family connections, Doods was aware of the work that the Mwezi Foundation does for many years before she joined the team in 2021.
Doods recently retired from a career in Human Resources within the Pharmaceutical Industry, and she has spent many years supporting businesses by helping them to maximise the potential of their employees. She hopes to contribute to the continuing success and growth of the Mwezi Foundation as it looks to widen its influence in Kenyan schools.
Helen is an MSc student specialising in international development with conflict, peacebuilding and humanitarianism.
As a qualified primary school teacher, Helen has seen firsthand the positive impact that can be achieved when you remove barriers to education. She is passionate about ensuring access to schooling for all children, and feels privileged to be working with the Mwezi Foundation as they seek to further educational opportunities in a very practical way.
After a career in telecoms (latterly as a Business Development Director), Gary has turned his considerable skills and experience to helping the Mwezi Foundation develop and reach more schools and distribute solar lights to more schoolchildren. He has taken on the important role of worrying about our finances and balancing the books.
We have been given some funding to support a Development Officer for three years. Juliet’s role is to increase our funding base and assist the growth of the charity’s activities.
“I’m thrilled to have joined the Mwezi Foundation at such a pivotal time. From my very first day, I could see how great the need is for our solar lights, and how committed our partner schools and pupils are to making full use of them. It is truly humbling to see how much they can achieve, often in circumstances which are almost impossible for us in the global North to imagine. I also love the Mwezi Foundation’s sustainable, holistic approach. Not only does it help children to break the cycle of poverty and disadvantage and boost their self-determination and ‘agency’ – but it simultaneously benefits the environment, promotes girls’ attainment and even, in a small way, eases family finances.
I shall do my utmost to bring in funding to support the charity’s work and scope. The need for Mwezi lights is enormous – we must find a way to meet that need.“
Izzy is responsible for promoting the Mwezi Foundation online. She creates content for our blog, edits and updates the information on our website, and converts the reports that we receive from our Schools Managers into content for social media. This highlights the achievements of the Mwezi Foundation and keeps our followers up to date with any news. She recently graduated from Oxford University with a master’s degree in English Literature, and is now self-employed as a freelance writer.
“I was keen to volunteer for Mwezi because the work that they do makes a positive impact in so many different areas: it helps to protect the environment (as each Mwezi solar light saves roughly 92kg in carbon emissions), provides local employment (as the lights are manufactured, repaired and distributed by local Kenyan employees), as well as enabling young people to achieve their full potential at school. I can think of few charities that do so much good at once!“
Martin has worked in mental health services in England as a clinician, teacher and manager. In 1992, he joined the Department of Health to become Head of Mental health Policy. He established the Northern Centre for Mental Health, a multi professional development agency, in 2002. In 2005 he became a technical consultant for WHO Europe, working in the Balkans, other east European countries and Turkey, providing strategic advice at government level on reforming mental health policy and services. From 2008-2011, he was Director of High Secure Services at Ashworth hospital, Merseyside. He is an honorary Professor in the School of Life Sciences at York University.
“I am delighted to be supporting the foundation in its mission to bring solar lights to schools in Kenya. I came across the foundation by accident but was inspired by its commitment to using local knowledge and expertise to provide real practical help where it’s needed in a way that helps people work towards achieving their ambitions. I look forward to helping the organisation grow and develop.“
The teachers in the schools that we support ensure that their pupils have access to our solar lights. We keep in regular contact with them via in-person check-ups (led by Dorcas and Julia). Moreover, we communicate via email and the Mwezi Whatsapp group chat. Using these platforms, our teachers send us photos and case studies and keep us informed about their students’ performance or any difficulties that they are facing. We rely on them to keep records of the lights and to collect them in at the end of the year to pass on to the following year’s class 8. You can learn more about our teachers here.
George Nash MBE
George is Mwezi’s resident Olympian. He won a Gold medal in the men’s four at the Rio 2016 Olympics and a bronze medal in the men’s pair at the London 2012 Games. He’s a sports enthusiast and if he’s not running, swimming or cycling he can be found on the golf course.
George now works as an engineer in a manufacturing business in Surrey and is passionate about simple, robust product design.
“The Mwezi Foundation light is a brilliant example of how an innovative, simple design can transform people’s lives not only through the primary use of the device in schools and homes but also through the service and redistribution of the product. I believe wholeheartedly in the Mwezi Foundation mission and am very excited to be a part of the team.”
Alan Pover CMG
Alan Pover is a former British High Commissioner to The Gambia. His distinguished career included several years as part of HM Overseas Inspectorate, which involved extensive travel throughout Africa on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Alan’s postings included Nigeria, Israel, Pakistan, South Africa, Washington DC and The Gambia. His experience and advice is invaluable in helping the Mwezi Foundation to operate in Kenya.
Mike Sherry, Founder
Although not a patron, we want to credit Mike here as one of the Founders of Mwezi Ltd. He helped develop the Mwezi solar light and established the connection with Likoni in Kenya. Mike set up the Mwezi Foundation and has been a massive support since we became fully independent in 2016. He continues to run Mwezi Ltd.