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Charity sets sights on 6 million solar lights to end global energy poverty

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An Australian charity, SolarBuddy, has set its sights on one big goal: to gift six million solar lights to children living in energy poverty by 2030.  

SolarBuddy’s unique approach involves uniting a global community by educating six million people in the developed world in order to aid six million children in energy poverty in the developing world.  

SolarBuddy Founder and CEO Simon Doble said, “Nearly a billion people worldwide live in extreme energy poverty, exposing them to ill health, unfulfilled futures and repeated cycles of poverty.” 

According to studies, energy poverty kills 2.6 million people a year – more than AIDS and malaria combined, with mostly being women and childre affected.

In fact, 38 percent of children under the age of eight in Papua New Guinea can’t read or write, largely due to lack of access to lighting after dark. Without the opportunity to study, a child’s education stagnates and they are unable to develop the skills necessary to break the cycle of poverty.    

Aside from providing much-needed light at night, Doble said their SolarBuddy lights can also help improve the living situation of cildren and their families.  

“Our simple SolarBuddy lights not only give students the ability to read and study after dark and improve their education outcomes, but they also reduce a family’s reliance on toxic fuels like kerosene or firewood,” Doble said.  

This cost saving amounts to 80% cost savings on traditional lighting or fuel, which gives them back the equivalent of 16 weeks paid work back every year. 

“With more than 130,000 lights already distributed worldwide, we are ramping up our focus on uniting the community to get involved. We’d love every Australian to donate or build a SolarBuddy light to help put an end to energy poverty. Unless we end energy poverty, we can not solve any form of poverty,” Doble said. 

According to their own evaluation, children with SolarBuddy lights are studying up to 78% longer  

In the coming months, SolarBuddy will be calling on Australian schools and corporates across the country to get involved in SolarBuddy’s innovative school education and corporate engagement programs.  

More than 500 schools around Australia have run one or more SolarBuddy sessions, learning about energy poverty, building a SolarBuddy light and gifting it to a student living in energy poverty. 

Each SolarBuddy light gifted is accompanied by a personalised letter for the student receiving it, written by the person who built the light.    

These programs are dedicated to empowering the next generation to change the lives of children living in energy poverty. The school education program is STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) focused and aligned to the national school curriculum.  All of SolarBuddy’s programs across the school and corporate sectors are based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

More than 550 corporations have participated in corporate engagement programs to date.    

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