Monday, October 4, 2010

October '10 Newsletter

You Are Invited!

Share An Evening with the GlobalLight Projects Team

To Report to our Friends and Supporters
& To Celebrate our First Installation

Pictures - Video - Thomas' Report - Refreshments

Hear how, upon arriving Thomas discovered a new building under construction, that was oriented the wrong way for a proper solar installation. How the community worked literally day and night to finish the building. How Thomas solved the orientation problem. How on his last morning, the roof was just going on. How he got a working installation, complete with computers. How nearly 500 people came to celebrate.

We could not have done it without you and we want to share the story with you. It's our way of rejoicing and being accountable at the same time.

Friday, October 15, 7:00 P.M.
Royal View Church
RSVP so we can prepare for you!

They can because they think they can.
~ Virgil

Your GlobalLIght Projects Team
Thomas, Wayde, Peter, Marilyn & Doug

Thursday, September 16, 2010

September '10 Newsletter

Mission Accomplished!

On September 5, Thomas completed the installation of a solar system in the school in Chona, southern Zambia. Then there was a party!

Our plan from the beginning was to provide electricity to the Chona school, which had been recently refurbished by Matantala, a Zambian development agency focused on eradicating poverty through improvement in education, among other things. When Thomas arrived in Zambia on August 20, he found that Matantala and the village had decided to construct a new building consisting of 3 classrooms, staff room and a head master's office complete with a strong room (i.e. cement ceiling, floor and walls with no window). They wanted this new building to get the installation. There were two problems. The building was not completed - the walls were not even all the way up, and Thomas only had a few days to get the job done. Also, the building was not oriented to properly catch the sun's rays with the panels fastened to the roof. Had we come all this way only to have to leave an unfinished project?

After seeing that Thomas had really come, the village got busy and worked hard to get the building up. They got the ridge cap on the roof on the morning of September 5, which was Thomas' last day. But that left the issue of how to get the solar panels on so they would work. In consulting SunTech, the supplier in Lusaka, Thomas discovered that they had developed a rotating frame that eliminated the problem of orientation. Since southern Zambia is not prone to high winds, it would not be a problem if the panels were raised above the roof ridge rather than fastened on the roof slope. So with that, Thomas re-designed the system for the new building, laying out the material in preparation for the moment the building would be ready.

It all came together. Matantala contributed by providing Thomas with transportation and paying the electrician to wire the building. This is Matantala's first rural school with electricity, and we are proud and grateful to have them as a partner. On Sunday, September 5, just minutes after the switch being thrown to light the classrooms, the village celebrated. Between 400-500 people came. Television, radio and the press covered the event. All of Zambia learned that a few friends from Canada, with some generous supporters and a wonderful Zambian partner had created an historic moment - the electrification of a rural school far from the electrical grid.

Thomas came home tired and happy. His dream of doing something concrete for his people was beginning to come true. More requests from Zambia are arriving, as you might imagine. We want to finish the school, electrifying the other buildings and the teachers' homes, so that rural students can compete with kids from the city for places in higher education. Interest has also been expressed from other places in Africa. We are excited to see what our next steps will be.

The people of Chona have finished the school since Thomas left, plastering the walls, painting inside and out. The new school term has begun and children are using the new building.  Thomas' uncle, Mr. Mark Chona and his family donated a new computer and colour printer and they are working at installing an antenna so that there will be Internet service in the village via cellular signal. The twenty-first century is arriving in Chona!

For a sense of what it is like to live in southern Zambia and why we did the project, read Mark Chona's speech at the celebration ceremony. It is both informative and moving.

Thanks to all those who have encouraged us from the beginning and who have helped us to get this far. We could not have done this without you! To say thank you and to tell the dramatic story of the challenges of the installation, we would like to invite you to an information and celebration evening at Royal View Church, 218 Clarke Rd. London on Friday, October 15 at 7:00 p.m. We would be honoured if you joined us. If that time and place is inconvenient, we would be delighted to come to you and share the story. Just let us know so we can work out the details.

If you have  a question or comment Contact us.

We did not come to watch.
~Marilyn Crewe

Your GlobalLIght Projects Team
Thomas, Wayde, Peter, Marilyn & Doug

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Special Edition

The GlobalLight Projects team is pleased to announce that Thomas has arrived in Zambia and the installation of our first project is underway.

Thomas flew out of Toronto on Thursday, August 19 and will return on September 7. Every day will be packed with activity. As much as possible, our Zambian partners have arranged details so that the installation can be completed in a relatively short time. Part of the time will also be spent on building relationships and nurturing a funding proposal. Thomas has also taken along water testing kits to demonstrate the benefits of SODIS, the solar disinfection of drinking water (more info on SODIS is on our website). So, if all goes according to plan, Chona village in southern Zambia will have electricity in part of their school and safer drinking water. We think that is pretty good for our first trip, lasting less than three weeks!

Thomas will not be able to communicate with us for much of his time in Zambia. But we will update you on how things went as soon as we can. Thanks to all who have contributed, encouraged and helped. You are part of an historic event.

People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.
~Vince Lombardi

If you have  a question or comment Contact us.

Your GlobalLIght Projects Team
Thomas, Wayde, Peter, Marilyn & Doug

Monday, August 2, 2010

August '10 Newsletter

Things are about to change for these students. In less than a month, for the first time, part of their school will have electricity.

The village of Chona, in southern Zambia is some 30 km off the electrical grid. So, these kids still carry water and firewood. The water is likely contaminated because it comes from shallow wells or surface streams. Water borne diseases are the number one health risk, and they take a terrible toll. Cooking fires fueled by wood cause de-forestation, thus altering the climate and agricultural productivity. They also  present the risk of children being burned. Children, usually girls do this manual labour, thus being denied an education. Yet there is a direct link between a mother's education and the health and welfare of her family.

We do not accept these risks for ourselves, yet occasionally we have been asked why we want to bring affordable, renewable electricity to the developing world. The answer: we understand these risks, know there is something that can be done and we are determined to do it!

GlobalLight Projects team member, Thomas is flying to Zambia on August 19 to install the first phase of the Chona project. Our local development partner, Matanala is already preparing the scene. In fact, they have begun to re-furbish the teachers' houses in the expectation that the school will attract more teachers and that someday we will be able to electrify the teachers' homes as well.

We want to thank all those who have helped us get this far. For all those who have donated funds, be assured that all gifts are being spent on the project. The GlobalLight Projects team members have provided for all the fund-raising and administrative costs. The budget for this summer's project is $10,000. Most of that is on hand, but we could use a bit more help.

Please consider helping us over the top with a tax-deductible gift within the next few days. Credit card or debit card donations can be made at CanadaHelps. In order for funds to reach us in time, donations should be made by Saturday, August 7. Thanks!

Watch for our next newsletter, with updates from Thomas in Zambia.

If you have  a question or comment Contact us.

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
~ John, the Apostle

Your GlobalLIght Projects Team
Thomas, Wayde, Peter, Marilyn & Doug

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June ‘10 Newsletter
First Project To Be Installed in August
GlobalLight Projects team is pleased to announce that later this summer, the first phase of the installation of solar energy in the school in Chona, Zambia will occur. One and a half years ago, GlobalLight Projects was formed with the vision of using simple technologies to assist people in the developing world. The site of the initial project was then determined to be in Chona, the rural village where Thomas, one of the GlobalLIght Projects team was raised. The population of the Chona area is about 12,000, located several kilometres off the electrical grid. Life there remains mostly as it was in the time of Thomas’ grandfather - no running water, no modern facilities, children unable to compete in national exams - because there is no electricity.

The choice of Chona had a couple of advantages. One is that the area and people are known to Thomas. Another is that a local Zambian development agency is active in the area, and in fact, recently re-built the school (but did not add electricity). GlobalLight Projects has forged a relationship with this agency and they are assisting us with some logistical issues. While we have been working toward this project, discussions have been held with several other potential partners for solar installations elsewhere. A lot of work has been taking place behind the scenes.

Fundraising has been on-going since our earliest days. Many people have contributed and we appreciate all those who provided the early encouragement that we could do this. For the past year, we have been working on a funding proposal with a partner that would provide the bulk of the funds for the project. This has taken longer than expected but we are optimistic. While we continue work on this proposal, we have decided to use the funds already raised to electrify part of the school.

The budget for the complete installation is $35,000. This summer we intend to install solar collectors and related equipment on one classroom for a cost of $10,000. This installation will form the basis of what will follow and will be integrated into the rest of the project. The GlobalLight Projects team has decided to do this in order to be fair to those who gave the first funds toward the project and to gain experience and lay the groundwork for the larger installation to come.

Thomas will fly to Zambia on August 19 for 3 weeks in order to complete the first phase. Funds on hand will be used, but we do need about $3000 more. We are letting our friends know of the exciting development of our first project and to provide an opportunity to be part of it. If you would like to help us provide electricity for the first time in a rural African village, please use the enclosed envelope to return your cheque (made out to Royal View Church - designated to GlobalLIght Projects. or use your credit card from our website, All gifts are tax deductible.

There are so many worthy causes. Just now, with the G8 and G20 meetings, the world is focused on global challenges. It is so easy to overlook those who are left behind. We have challenges but they have poverty and early death. Some  well- meaning folks are protesting the meetings, but we choose to change the world. Chona will never be the same again, not because of a billion dollar meeting but because a few friends and supporters decided to do what they could.

Thank you for your help and encouragement to get us this far.

To donate onlne, please visit our CanadaHelps Giving Page.

If you have  a question or comment contact us.

Your GlobalLIght Projects Team
Thomas, Wayde, Peter, Marilyn & Doug

Saturday, May 15, 2010

May 2010 Newsletter

The GlobalLight Projects Team has been working on our vision to utilize simple technology to help people in the developing world.  
In recent weeks, we have participated in the Zambia Radio Blog - a live audio webcast to Zambians living throughout the world. The producers had taken note of what we doing and wanted to know more. The listening audience is about 15,000 and the programs are archived on the Internet for later listening. This program complemented The Times of Zambia article profiling GlobalLight Projects and other initiatives by Zambian expatriates to help develop the country (the article is available on our blog).

We also assisted a Canadian journalist who had a fellowship to study development issues in Africa by passing along some of the things we have learned and introducing him to contacts both in Canada, Uganda and Zambia that could contribute to his research. Our latest presentation was to the Rotary Club in Woodstock, ON (Thomas is pictured above). Solar powered batteries lighting the room for lunch sets the stage for an interesting talk!

The Story of Stuff

Ever wonder about how you can buy stuff so cheaply - stuff that was made in China, for example, with materials produced elsewhere and then shipped here? I know that we like to complain about high prices, but think of the things you purchase now for less, in real terms, i.e. adjusted for inflation. The Story of Stuff is a 20 minute cartoon, produced and narrated by Annie Leonard and it shows the hidden costs of what we consume. Perhaps the most shocking fact is that if the whole world consumed like we in the West do, we'd need 5 earths to provide the resources. But, we only have one. So, get ready, whether you like it or not, a future of conservation and more modest living is coming. Either that, or there will be war to grab the resources first. Orwell's vision in 1984. Iraq, anyone? The disturbing fact is that other people are subsidizing our comfortable lifestyle. It's time to give something back.

 Check out The Story of Stuff website

Buy less crap.
        -Annie Leonard

Contact Us!

Don't hesitate to contact the GlobalLight Projects Team with your questions, comments, suggestions or to help arrange a demonstration of solar power and to talk about our vision and concept. Also, feel free to pass this newsletter on to someone who might be interested.

Your GlobalLight Projects Team
Marilyn, Wayde, Peter, Thomas & Doug

Let There Be Light!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March 2010 Newsletter

Last month we introduced the book The Bottom Billion, which describes the plight of some one billion people in about 50 countries who are not only poor but getting poorer. The reasons for this are complex but the result is people, especially children, suffer and die needlessly. It is so easy to ignore this reality, closeted away in our North American cocoon, where our leaders try to lull us into voting for them with idiotic ideas that we can go on endlessly consuming without thought for the future. In the final chapter entitled, "An Agenda for Action," the author, Paul Collier addresses the thought that the issues are too big to tackle:

I have a little boy who is six. I do not want him to grow up in a world with a vast running sore - a billion people stuck in desperate conditions alongside unprecedented prosperity ...

Certainly there are brave people within these societies who are struggling to achieve change. It is important to us that these people win their struggle, but the odds are stacked  against them ...

You are a citizen and citizenship carries responsibilities. In the 1930s the world sleepwalked into the avoidable catastrophe of World War II because electorates in the United States and Europe were too lazy to think beyond the populist recipes of isolationism and pacifism. These mistakes led to the slaughter of children. It is the responsibility of all citizens to prevent us from sleepwalking into another catastrophe that our children would have to face.
We must prod our national government, we must change the way we live, we must spend part of our prosperity to help those who cannot help themselves. We must do it now and it must be more than a passing response to a natural disaster. We must stop the running sore.

School Presentations 

In recent weeks, the GlobalLight Projects team had the privilege of making presentations in two London schools. We have developed interactive, fun tools that help us get the point across about what we are doing and why. We are hoping that eventually a school here will take up the challenge of helping to provide electricity for a school that needs it. 

Video, quiz questions, carrying 20 litres of water (as children do in many parts of the world), and a working solar energy display help us get the points across to young and old alike. Thanks to London District Christian Secondary School and John Paul II High School for inviting us.

Peter, Thomas & teacher at LDCSS

Peter, Thomas with JPII chaplain

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.
- Samuel Johnson
Contact Us!

Don't hesitate to contact the GlobalLight Projects Team with your questions, comments, suggestions or to help arrange a demonstration of solar power and to talk about our vision and concept. Also, feel free to pass this newsletter on to someone who might be interested.

Your GlobalLight Projects Team
Marilyn, Wayde, Peter, Thomas & Doug

Let There Be Light!

Monday, February 15, 2010

February 2010 Newsletter
Recently, the GlobalLight Projects team has been discussing Paul Collier's book, The Bottom Billion. A professor of economics at Oxford University and former World Bank official, Collier argues that the world's people can be seen as three groups - one billion rich people (that's us), four billion who are making progress in economic development (China, India, etc) and one billion people who are falling further behind (most of Africa). From The Washington Post review:

The Third World has shrunk, but it hasn't vanished. The new third world -- the hard core of the development challenge that Zoellick [head of the World Bank] faces -- is composed of about 50 countries that are home to a billion people. Globalization is propelling China and India toward wealth, and both are closing in on the prosperous with unprecedented speed.

But globalization is not working for the bottom billion. Their incomes have been virtually stagnant. From 1960 to 2000, the new third world experienced no growth at all. Meanwhile, the economies of the rest of the developing world have enjoyed accelerating growth, decade by decade. First gradually, then rapidly, the bottom billion have fallen away from the rest of mankind. Encouragingly, Zoellick has picked up on this. "Globalization must not leave the bottom billion behind," he told the National Press Club on Oct. 10. But it already has.

Collier identifies what he calls five traps that keep the bottom billion behind: conflict, natural resources (too many rather than too few), landlocked with bad neighbours, and bad governance in a small country. He supports his arguments with economic data but in a very readable form.

An example of the problem is shown in a comparison of the educational opportunities between Canada and Zambia.
Although Canada has over 3 times the population of Zambia, the two countries have approximately the same number of primary school students. But what happens to those students is startling. Some children in Zambia get little or no primary education. Only a fraction of those progress to secondary school and again a fraction make it to post-secondary education. While Canada has 1.4 million students in colleges and universities, Zambia has 24,000. These kinds of statistics are more or less true for all of the bottom billion.

The book is both sad and hopeful. There are solutions. Besides the moral cost of leaving one sixth of the people of the world doomed to misery and early death, Collier also notes the economic cost to the world of having so many marginalized people with very little to lose. GlobalLight Projects is focusing on providing schools with electricity in order to attract good teachers and provide rural students with modern tools of learning. This is not the only solution to the problems of the bottom billion, but surely developing the human potential of the people is key to changing the future for the better. As Collier notes, change for these societies must come from within rather than imposed from outside.

You can read Collier's blog here and the book is available at, You can help GlobalLight Projects with your financial donation here.

I'm in a great rage now, as I understand how many lives we have lost.
~Stephen Lewis

Contact Us!

Don't hesitate to contact the GlobalLight Projects Team with your questions, comments, suggestions or to help arrange a demonstration of solar power and to talk about our vision and concept. Also, feel free to pass this newsletter on to someone who might be interested.

Your GlobalLight Projects Team
Marilyn, Wayde, Peter, Thomas & Doug

Let There Be Light!

My photo
exists to help the people in the developing world by applications of simple technology