Mariam Mawila

COCO has partnered with the Nuru Fund to distribute solar lamps in East Africa since 2013. The first ever distribution of solar lamps by COCO was to students at Hoja Secondary School.

In Songea, where the school is located, electricity is often unreliable with numerous power cuts which can last up to a week! Before the solar lamps, students relied on kerosene which is expensive and can cause health problems, fire hazards and ecological damage.

Mariam is one of the students who received a solar lamp. Mariam’s parents are farmers and they live in a village about a three hour walk away from the school. She has two brothers and two sisters. One sibling is nine years old and is in Primary School and the others are all over 18 and are also farmers. Mariam makes most of her income through charging phones for people in her community when she goes home for holidays.

Mariam also does very well at school by renting out her lamp to teachers and friends. Her strategy is to get up early and be one of the first to charge her lamps so that she is ready for the day of charging. She makes sure that her lamp is always charged so that she does not miss out on an opportunity. She has many regular customers at school, both teachers and students.

’’Now we can finish every piece of work given to us where before we struggled and often we would hand things in late or not at all. We like to offer this to the rest of our class and have started putting our lights into the classroom so that everyone can work together”

She finds it easy to keep up with regular payments and enjoys the way she is working. She has not had to go without anything as she makes repayments and can now afford to buy her own soap, exercise books and pens. Previously her parents gave her money for Kerosene but now they do not give her anything as they know how well she is doing with her solar lamp. Mariam is confident in her classes and thinks she will do well. When she leaves school she wants to go on to university and wants to become a lawyer.

‘‘When my repayments are finished and I no longer have the loan I would like to be able to spend my extra money on clothes. I want to have something that I can keep which is a result of this, something I worked for and know that they came from the lamps.’’

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