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The First Women Solar Empowerment Training

The solar health certificate program started with the recruitment of the 20 women who were to participate in the program for 3 weeks.

The recruitment session took two days that is on 17th and 18th of May 2018.The recruitment was successfully conducted and KACCAD was able to recruit 20 women.

Among the 20 women, 10 were selected because they wrote appealing summaries about their interest in renewable energy. These 10 women expressed willingness to participate consistently in the training workshop and Outreach which commenced on the 23rd of May 2018.

Day One: Training on the 23rd May 2018The key speakers and facilitators of this training, Caroline and George Mike, began by introducing themselves. Also, the attendees introduced themselves since they were coming from different villages of Wakiso district, and it was likely that the participants had not met each other. Then the trainers gave a thorough background of Let There Be Light International (LTBLI) and KACCAD for people to understand the common goal the two organizations are working together to achieve. The participants were enlightened on the greatest contributions of KACCAD and LTBLI in the fight to end energy poverty and to combat climate change.Caroline Mwebaza spoke with the participants about energy. She discussed the classifications of energy, the different types of energy: renewable and non-renewable, and the sources of both renewable and non-renewable energy. She also discussed the dangers of using non-renewable energy. Women shared their different experiences of using non-renewable energies and those that had seen firsthand the adverse effects of using non-renewable energy shared with fellow participants. Ms. Margret Namayanja, one of the participants, shared her experience, ‘‘One day I bought kerosene using an empty soda bottle, back then it was common for shops to sell kerosene. On return from the shop I somehow forgot to keep the bottle with kerosene in a safe place out of reach of my baby. I left the bottle in the corner of the house and unfortunately that sad evening while I was doing my chores outside the house, my little baby crawled towards the kerosene bottle maybe thinking it was something good to drink. By the time I entered the house my baby was weakening, vomiting, stomach had swollen, her eyes had gone up, and she was unconscious. I rushed her to the hospital, she was treated immediately, and luckily she was resuscitated.’’ Ms. Ruth Kibalama also shared her experience as a VHT, ‘‘One day last year I was moving around my community and found mourners at one community member’s house and did not hesitate to ask as I was concerned. I was told a tragedy had happened. A woman had died in her house due to an overnight fire from a burning candle that gutted the house. She had lit her house with a candle and left it burning as she slept.’’ Other women also shared that they had seen victims of fire accidents in their communities.The women learned about the comparative advantages of using renewable energies over non-renewable energies such as affordable lighting, financial saving, environmental benefits and many more.

Day Two: Training on the 24th May 2018

This day George Mike led the training of the women. In the first session, the training was about the concept of air pollution, indoor and outdoor air pollution, causes of air pollution and how air pollution affects people’s health once they are exposed. He also discussed the harmful effects on the environment and the measures that can be taken individually, as a community, or government to reduce air pollution. It was an interactive discussion as women participated by mentioning the various measures that can be taken to reduce air pollution on an individual level. Some suggested ways to reduce the percentage of carbon emissions released in the atmosphere, such as using clean energy and avoiding the burning of plastics and to take them to agents of recycling plants instead.They suggested that the government should put strict laws on industries and the use of old cars so as to reduce on the percentage of emissions to the atmosphere which causes air pollution. The women gave many thoughtful and powerful suggestions. The suggestion that stood out was the importance of spreading awareness to different communities because a lot of people are unaware of the adverse effects of using dirty energy sources such as kerosene or candles and the burning of plastics nearby their home or even how air around them can be polluted. Before the women went on a short interlude, Caroline presented the diseases associated with inhaling pollutants in the air, how they can recognize signs and symptoms of air pollution diseases, which can be classified into upper and lower respiratory infections and cardiovascular diseases which affect the heart.In the second session of the training, George Mike presented a topic titled ‘‘Energy as a Driving Force for Development”. He also presented a topic titled ‘‘Understanding the SDG’s and their Connectedness.’’Towards the end of the training session, the women were each asked to find five school going children from energy poor households to receive lights on the third day of the training.

Day three: Trainees benefit from field activities on 26th May 2018

This day was started with the distribution of 30 solar lights to school going pupils from areas of Kireka, Gogonya, Kikaaya and Nakabugo in Wakiso district. The beneficiaries were students found by the trainees. The trainees educated the school children about the dangers of using kerosene lamps and candles and the advantages of using clean solar energy. They demonstrated the usage of solar lights and urged the solar recipients to be vigilant and not lose their solar lights and to properly maintain them.Shortly after the distribution exercise, the trainees and the facilitators started solar education outreach at Kavule health center in Ssumbwe village. From there they walked into the village of Ssumbwe visiting and educating people in their homes and people on the feeder roads that the group was using. The trainees put up posters at shops, kiosks, community centers and on fence walls of schools.

Day four: Training, Outreach and Certificates on 1st June 2018.On the fourth day of the training which marked the end of the workshop, Samuel Oyaku, an invited guest speaker who is a program manager from Sunny Money/Solar Aid, talked to women and shared with them a lot of important facts. Most exciting was a story about his recent customary marriage ceremony at his wife’s home, Samuel said, ‘‘Apologies for inconveniencing you I was meant to come last week. However there was too much on me as I and my wife were preparing for our customary marriage.Last weekend I had to attend a customary marriage in the Teso region to be introduced by my wife to her parents and relatives. As you know the customs just like in Buganda region or the central, the easterners also ask for bride price. And to cut the story short one of the key items a bride groom is required to bring is kerosene popularly called (Kasuze Katya) in relation to customary marriage. I, knowing the hazards surrounding use of kerosene, decided not to take kerosene for bride price, I bought 120 solar lights which I took with other things as bride price but without kerosene. And guess what? The family and community members were very happy. I therefore urge you if you have a son or a relative preparing bride price advise them not to include kerosene on the list. Ending the use of kerosene is a choice worth fighting for because it is unsafe.’’Samuel came along with different solar products which he demonstrated, explained the features and differences, and the cost of each product.Samuel spoke about the benefits derived from using solar energy emphasizing the money one can save. He said that their solar product is called SM100 or Sunny Money 100 because if you have it, you use the sun to save money.Samuel talked about Sunny Money’s various marketing strategies. He said Sunny Money was open to work cooperatively with the trainees if they were committed to work as sales agents.On the same day, the women held an outreach education workshop at Kawuuzi health center. They also walked around the communities of Nakuwadde and Bulenga sticking posters and educating people in those communities about solar energy benefits.After the outreach, the women returned to KACCAD volunteer center which was the venue for the training where they were addressed by Mr. Derrick Luwaga, the executive director of KACCAD. Mr. Derrick Luwaga spoke much more about the background of KACCAD as a women development group and pointed out why women are key people in KACCAD’s programming. He further said that KACCAD would employ them. and that they will have the opportunity of traveling to remote areas to share their experiences.Mr. Derrick Luwaga urged the women to be diligent and keen to support the less privileged. He also advised them to not be misled by political leaders who take advantage of NGO programs to win supporters. Mr. Derrick Luwaga congratulated the participants of the training and handed each woman a certificate for solar training. The women were excited to have succeeded in the selection process and to have received certificates. Ms. Ruth Kibalama said, ‘‘It is my first time receiving a framed certificate. I am going to pin it on the wall in our sitting room at home for everyone to see my achievement.’’ After the awarding of the certificates, a stipend of 37 USD was given to each woman.

Final Remarks

On behalf of KACCAD, Executive Director Mr. Derrick Luwaga extended KACCAD’s sincere appreciation to Let There Be Light International for providing the necessary funds that were used for the training and to Sunny Money for accepting our invitation to speak to the women.

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