Monday, July 16, 2012

Off-grid B'laan Families Receive Solar Lamps

Boyax Enriquez of Hybrid Social
Solutions (HSS)
shows Malungon community center 
staff how to maintain
a solar lamp. HSS educates users of
 solar energy systems on how 
to use these for development. 

The homes of twelve B'laan families living off-grid are now better lit at night with solar lamps from Stiftung Solarenergie (StS) Solar Energy Foundation-Philippines.

Recipients of the lamps are involved with the Center for Community Transformation (CCT) as micro finance partners, as members of savings circles, as preschool students, or as members of the CCT Community Church in Malungon, Saranggani.

The lamps were brought to the CCT community center in Malungon, Sarangani in May 2011 by motorcycle enthusiasts  involved in the foundation's  Ride for Light  campaign, an effort to bring solar-powered energy systems to rural communities that still do not enjoy the convenience of electricity.

According to the StS website, one out of four Filipinos lives without electricity, mostly using kerosene lamps at night.  Aside from posing a fire hazard, kerosene lamps shed dim light and give off toxic fumes that harm the lungs.

In comparison, solar lamps are smoke-free. School children can use them for reading and studying at night. They can be hung like lanterns to light family meals, community meetings or social events. They may be used as flashlights and as cell phone chargers.  They are waterproof and can be used in rainy weather and on boats.

Solar panels charge the lamps during the day.  When fully charged, a lamp on a low setting can light a hut or a small room for 100 hours.
This solar lamp gives light for 100 hours
 on a low setting,  21 hours on medium,
and nine hours on high. It comes with eight
plugs for charging common types of
mobile phones. Photo courtesy of 
Boyax Enriquez.

The lamps were distributed by CCT staff to the B'laan families during a Father's Day activity in June 2012.  

The Malungon community is the second of two CCT communities to receive solar lamps from StS.  The first community visited by the 'Light Riders' was the Kaibigan Village  for former street dwellers in Nueva Ecija.  The 'Light Riders' visited 39 other communities nationwide in their 19-day trip in April and May 2011.

Other solar lamp distribution activities of the StS include Hike for Light where mountain climbers brought solar lamps to families living on Mt. Apo and five other mountains, and  Sail for Light in which sailors brought solar lamps to fishing communities in Coron, El Nido, and  Culion in Palawan.  Run for Light  at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig which raised funds for more solar lamps.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

B'laan Boy Saves Up for Shoes

Alexander Kingkong is just three but he already knows what it's like to buy 'something big'  using money  saved. In his case, 'something big' is a pair of shoes he kept reminding his parents to save up for.

Alexander belongs to a B'laan family.  He and his young parents are members of a savings group or savings circle composed of  B'laan families who attend the CCT Community Church in Malungon, Sarangani on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.

The savings circle program is one of several services run by the Center for Community Transformation  to provide marginalized people with pathways out of poverty.  Aside from giving people in the hinterlands  the means and motivation to save up for such basic needs as a pair of shoes,  for a life event such as a wedding,  or to have a safety net for hard times,  CCT hopes the circles will pool their savings to start a micro enterprise. As of this writing there are 19 savings circle in Malungon with a total of 457 members.

CCT's programs, including micro finance, preschool education, and feeding and nutrition, are aimed at meeting both physical and spiritual needs. Weekly meetings of all beneficiaries include prayer and study of the Bible.

In a year Alexander will be old enough to enroll in the preschool also run by CCT. Will his shoes still fit him then?  Probably.  But if not,  he'll know exactly what to do: keep reminding his parents to save up for another pair.