A global charity, in partnership with the South African foreign office, has helped power 200 homes in South Africa, after hosting a soccer match aimed at providing solar panels to less privileged families.
Gift, a non-profit organisation assists children and families from underserved areas around the world, reaching 6000 children every year in Asia, Africa, South, Central, and North America. Their goal is to supply over 50,000 households with solar power in the next two years.
US Diplomat and Gift Chairman, Keith Kirkwood and Ambassador to South Africa, Mahash Alhameli who is the UAE Ambassador to South Africa in a joint effort to make the project possible hosted the inaugural Soccer for Solar match in Soweto, Johannesburg. With the support of the GIFT Clinical Team who gave free physical examinations to all the children from the Elias Motsoaledi area who participated.
The tournament had approximately 100 children under the age of 14 – 32 girls, 32 boys. Over 600 children from the same community also attended the event.
Elias Motsoaledi settlement is home to about 3000 families that live in extreme poverty without sanitation or power. In October last year, residents protested over the living conditions. The area had gone without power for over four months.
Mr Kirkwood said: “Most children from less privileged areas around the world tend to hitchhike or walk to school. As a result, by the time they get home, it is dark and most are unable to do their homework.
“Portable solar lights empower children and families and as an organisation we want to be able to raise awareness and transform their lives.”
The initiative has also adopted a world clean energy enterprise and will increase access to low-cost, durable solar tops, solar jars and solar lanterns to low-income communities in 12 African countries, including, South Africa, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Malawi, Uganda, Ghana, and Zimbabwe.
There are also plans to set up the project in four South Asian countries with Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Nepal in the pipeline.
“As part of a United Nations-backed initiative to fight poverty, our clean energy initiative is part of a global project and we are putting in place a framework similar to the one we have just implemented in Soweto, and through Sports and Educational events and programs, children earn their solar lights instead of getting it for free,” Mr. Kirkwood added.
Kirkwood said that the team will return to Johannesburg in September and will be partnering with several embassies across Africa and the world in the coming months.
According to research South Africa’s 2018 general household survey, 17.9% of South Africans in metropolitan areas live in informal settlements and there are 2.1 million shacks in the country that either steal electricity or use hazardous energy sources like candles, kerosene, charcoal, and wood, which is the main cause of fires and burn injuries.
“Our goal is to see every shack with solar power, in turn, this will allow families to do everyday things, but more importantly, prevent them from incidents caused by harmful energy sources.”
“The children in Soweto have an amazing spirit. Their attitude and zeal for life is remarkable and we are looking forward to returning later this year and impacting their lives further so that they can reach their full potential.”