SolarWorld solar blog

Solar HOPE Part 3: Letter from a student at Malangali secondary school

Posted 22 September 2011 12:00 AM by John Grieser, Student Researcher, SolarWorld Americas

There is no better way to express the impact that electricity has on the lives of rural Tanzanian students than to hear it from a student himself. The following letter was written shortly after our installation at his school.

Letter from student

“My name is Regan John Mahondo, a student from Malangali Secondary School. On behalf of all students, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all (American people) for the support of solar lights in the dormitory where the deaf students stay. You have solved a part of the problem to the students of Malangali Secondary. Malangali is one of the biggest public schools, and was built in 1928. Regardless, power is a big problem.

We promise we are going to use the system properly and we are going to keep it so that it can last for the use of present students and the coming ones.

We also suggest if possible, once the chance of helping institutions with power comes again, please make a first regard to Malangali. We hope even our academic performance will rise, because now students can study at night for almost 5 hours. We are very very happy with this project.

Lastly we promise we are gong to take care of the materials installed in the dormitory so it works for a long time.

Wishing you all the best on your journey back, pass our regards to the USA people that we really appreciate your help. We hope you will come back to Malangali and help provide more solar power in the other buildings which are missing light.

Regan John Mahondo
Malangali Student Form 6.
25, August”

Solar power will provide electricity for lights so these students can study at night
John just told these students that they were getting lights to study at night.

This school was not originally on our schedule. We drove to Malangali to help with a government-sponsored retrofit of an old (and poorly installed) solar system at the district medical clinic across the road. This job required only a couple of us, so with time to kill and with an extra set of solar equipment in the back of the truck, myself and the others decided to walk across the street to the school. We were initially greeted by Regan, a form 6 student – the equivalent of a high school senior.

We choose to install the solar system on the dormitory that housed the deaf students. These are students that communicate visually, through hand signals. When the sun goes down, all means of communication are lost with the daylight.

Solar panels installed at school in Malangali Tanzania
Kelly Shuman communicating via sign language beneath a row of recently installed solar-powered lights.

The students were extremely curious and were persistent in offering their help. They asked questions about everything, where I was from, physics questions about the solar panel itself, and most importantly, whether or not I liked Jay-Z…

Upon completion of the installation, I sat down behind the building to rest for a moment. Before I could really catch my breath, 30 students had gathered around me. One student, Emmanuel had brought his book on electronics. He needed help understanding circuit theory.

Solar panels installed at school in Malangali Tanzania
John Trading knowledge with Emmanuel at the Malangali Seconday School.

He described to me that this was the only book on electricity in the school, and they had no one to teach it. After helping him with a few problems, he asked me another question, how to solve a log based calculus problem.

Don’t tell my calculus teacher, but I had no idea! Emmanuel laughed; he finished the problem on two pages and said, “see, it’s easy!”