Uganda’s Got Talent: Searching for the next solar sisters!

Crowds gathered as we explained the aims of the Solar Sisters project to the village

Crowds gathered to hear the aims of the Solar Sisters project to the village

Hi, this is Sam,

I’ve just got back from a trip Kagandu, one of the many small villages dotted along the border of the Mgahinga National Park here in Uganda. Here, along with my Gorilla Organization colleague Regina, I was exploring the possibility of getting the community involved in our Solar Sisters project, which is already on track to transform hundreds of lives in four different villages across the border in DR Congo.

Certainly, Kagandu meets the criteria for being considered for the project. The Barefoot College in India, where women are trained in solar engineering skills, requires communities to be without a reliable source of electricity and likely to be without one for the foreseeable future. Well, let me tell you that Kagandu definitely ticks this box! It’s a full hour’s walk from the nearest main road and none of the 380 houses here have ever been fully electrified.

But what Kagandu may lack in infrastructure, it more than makes up for in spirit! The village chairperson welcomed us with open arms and even said she felt her community had been blessed by God to have this opportunity to become electrified! After a brief introduction, we held a productive meeting with several leading members of the community, in which they put forward two women to become Solar Sisters. They also agreed to provide funds to pay the ladies to maintain the village’s solar equipment upon their return from India.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to see this project extended into Uganda. Having access to electricity is a basic human right, and so to know that this village will soon have what so many of us take for granted is truly a cause for celebration. What’s more, I’m optimistic about how this project will benefit the gorillas living in the Mgahinga National Park. For too long now, people living in villages such as Kagandu have been forced by poverty to enter the protected forests for food and other resources. By allowing them to work and study after it gets dark and even to set up their own small enterprises, solar power will help them pull themselves out of poverty and will mean they will no longer be so reliant on the precious gorilla habitat.

Here are a few more pictures I took from my recent trip. I promise to keep you informed of all the latest developments and, on behalf of everyone in Kagandu, I thank you for your wonderful support!

Here's the initial report I made when I assessed how the village could benefit from solar power

The report I made to assess how the village could benefit from solar power

Members of community were asked to nominate the ladies they thought should go to India

The village nominates the ladies they feel should go to India...

Once the nominations were in, we chose our next Solar Sisters!

...and then, we choose our next Solar Sisters!

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