Appeal by Henley Based Education Charity to Support Lights for Kenyan Schools

One of Henley-on-Thames’ longstanding residents and dedicated volunteer Mike Hamblin, is appealing for local support to DOUBLE donations to the education charity he co-founded in 2015 and has supported pro bono ever since.

Mike is a trustee director, and was founder chairman, of The Mwezi Foundation, a UK-registered charity which donates portable solar lights to schools in remote Kenyan villages which lack mains electricity. Pupils borrow the lights overnight, on a rota basis, to do their homework and boost their learning. Over time, this makes it more likely they will complete their education and escape poverty as adults – and, for girls, avoid early marriage.

But the lights get a tough life in Kenya’s harsh equatorial climate. For this reason, The Mwezi Foundation runs a comprehensive repairs scheme – and this is what the charity is fundraising for this week, as part of a match-funded donations campaign organised by the nationwide funding platform The Big Give.

Mike said, “Our lights are simple and sturdy, but they are also in constant use by busy, active children, as well as being transported to and from school every day. So if they do malfunction, we swap them straightaway – at no cost to schools or pupils – and our Kenyan technician, John, repairs the broken ones in our workshop in Mombasa. This gets them back into circulation as soon as possible, so more pupils can benefit. We never send a light to landfill: if it really can’t be repaired, we salvage all possible parts.”

“We were very pleased to be selected to participate in The Big Give’s Christmas Challenge, because it’s a very competitive process and we really had to demonstrate that our lights make a difference to children’s lives and life chances. We want to use the opportunity to ensure we have a good stock of components for our repair programme, and aren’t caught out by inflation and shipping costs. Keeping all our solar-powered lights in circulation is absolutely essential: for pupils’ learning, for the environment, and for making donors’ money go further.”

Anyone who would like to support Mike and his work with The Mwezi Foundation can donate through this link on the Big Give website: https://donate.thebiggive.org.uk/campaign/a056900002NgHDNAA3   All donations up to the £2,000 threshold will be DOUBLED by match-funding, meaning every pound will have twice the normal impact! The link will be live until 12 noon next Tuesday (6 December).

It is hard for us in the UK to fully grasp the conditions in which Mwezi Foundation pupils are living, and the difficulties they face.  Mike comments, “I visited some of our schools in Kenya in September and I was so struck by how motivated these pupils are to learn and to lift their whole family out of poverty. Many of them live in homes that, without a Mwezi light, are in darkness from 6pm to 6am every day, because Kenya is on the equator and their families can’t afford even a kerosene lamp. This is quite thought-provoking in the context of our UK energy crisis, it seems to me. Can you imagine having no electricity at all – ever?”

Mike appreciates that times are tough for people in the UK as well, so all donations, even a pound or two, will be appreciated and will be doubled by match-funding. Mike concludes, “If you can spare something this week to change a child’s future in Kenya, thank you.”