Students light up lives of underprivileged children in PNG

For the first time, nearly 200 students have joined forces with volunteers from Origin to build solar powered lights for children living in energy poverty along the Kokoda Track, thanks to the Origin Foundation’s new volunteering program.  

Year 6 students from Narangba Valley State School, with assistance from Origin volunteers, learnt to build the solar powered lights which will help their “Solar Buddy” students in PNG to extend their reading, learning and study time – long after the sun goes down.

Narangba Valley State School principal, Mrs Lorna Cogle said, “We are proud to be involved in a program which not only helps to teach students about science and engineering, but was also designed to help those in need.”

1.4 billion people around the world don’t have access to electricity, severely limiting their potential.Designed especially for children, the lights are easy to operate, carry and charge and can be used inside tents, to extend their reading, learning or studying time. Without them, the communities rely on dangerous and unsustainable sources of fuel like kerosene, diesel, firewood or candles.

For Origin volunteer Michael Pearce, this was a meaningful opportunity for him and his daughter Grace, who is in Year 6, to learn more about, and help students who are growing up in energy poverty.

“Knowing that the solar lights we made today will go to students who can’t access safe and reliable electricity is an incredibly valuable lesson. For these children in PNG, the solar lights are not just a gift of light but are potentially opening the door to a new life for them,” Michael said.

200 grade 6 students from Narangba Valley school in Brisbane, built portable solar lights for children living in energy poverty along the Kokoda Track.

Grace and her fellow year 6 students enjoyed learning about renewable energy in a unique and impactful way and are looking forward to connecting with the students in PNG when they receive their solar powered lights.  

The Origin Foundation has partnered with Solar Buddy, an Australian charity working toimprove the educational opportunities of children throughout the South Pacific, South East Asia and Africa, by distributing portable solar lights. Origin volunteers will help students assemble the solar powered lights in classrooms around Australia.

Head of the Origin Foundation, Sean Barrett said that the humanitarian impact of science, technology, engineering and maths can’t be underestimated.

“Not only are we providing significant opportunities for these students in PNG, but the students at Narangba Valley State School have learnt valuable lessons about energy poverty, renewable energy, engineering and the power of education to change lives for the better,” Mr Barrett said. “We applaud the school, the teachers and the students for showing such humanitarian empathy and supporting those in need,” he added.   

The solar lights arrive at their final destination: in the hands of the children of PNG’s Southern Highlands Province.

SolarBuddy is a registered Australian charity dedicated to educating and empowering the next generation to change the lives of children living in energy poverty through its innovative school education and corporate engagement programs.

The Origin Foundation, Origin’s philanthropic foundation, supports programs that use education as a pathway to a brighter future. The Solar Buddy program complements the Origin Foundation’s focus on STEM education.

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