It’s that time of year when I wake up in the morning not sure if it’s actually morning or still the middle of the night. I’m a person who thrives on light; starting my day in darkness is particularly difficult. So it hits me hard to know that there are people – during those long hours when the sun goes down or before it comes up – who have limited access to light at all. Lots of people. 1.7 billion people. More than a fifth of the world’s population. Have no electricity or modern lighting.
This is not just a matter of convenience. Without light, adults are limited in their ability to work evenings or early morning hours. Of course, that limits the amount of money they can earn to feed their families. Without light, children are limited in their ability to read or do homework. Of course, this limits their education that in turn limits their earning power when they grow up.
Repurpose is a South Africa organization that is doing something about it. They make backpacks. For poor children who have no light to study by. Each backpack is retrofitted with a solar panel that charges during the lighted part of the day and lights the child’s study space in dark hours – the charge lasts for 12 hours. There are other cool things about these bags – they are made of 100% recycled material, they are retro-reflective to help keep the wearer safe in the dark, they are waterproof. And they are really cute (what child does not want cute?!)
Here’s a little of what Repurpose has to say about their work:
“Rethaka: it’s the radical idea of uncovering opportunities.”
“It’s having the audacity to uplift communities with uplifting ideas.”
“It thrives on thinking differently about inherited struggles and daring to realize we already have in these, the solutions we seek. It makes problems work for us, not control us.”
And that, to me, is creating light in darkness.
Learn more and get involved at repurposeschoolbags.com. Share your favorite resources for lighting the world.