February 2014, Volume 18, Number 1

Features


Lighting the Way to a Brighter Future

Known for changing lives through the opportunity of education, Miami Dade College is now achieving that same mission half a world away through the Solar Lanterns for Learning project.

A partnership of MDC’s Earth Ethics Institute and the Institute for Civic Engagement & Democracy, the Solar Lanterns project supports students in rural Kenya by providing lanterns so they can study and walk to and from school at night.

Students in MDC’s Yes for Environmental Sustainability (YES!) Clubs at several campuses were inspired to adopt the project after hearing presentations at MDC by Kenyan Engineer Evans Wadongo, founder of Sustainable Development for All and a catalyst behind the project in Kenya. Wadongo, who was named one of CNN’s Top 10 Heroes in 2010, explained how many children in rural Kenya must attend school at night because they have to work on their families’ farms or in other jobs during the day. Many are forced to walk long distances through dangerous areas in the dark to get to school, and they must study and do their homework by burning sticks or smoky kerosene lamps, which they can barely afford to fuel.

The Yes! Clubs have held several fundraisers, including sales of baked goods and handmade jewelry created from recycled materials. These efforts have generated enough money to sponsor dozens of students with lanterns. Several MDC classes have also sponsored lanterns for students.

“Not only are we helping these students in Kenya, but this has turned into a wonderful service-learning project for our own students,” said Colleen Ahern-Hettich, director of the Earth Ethics Institute at MDC. “It really gives them a greater awareness of the world and the challenges that others face. They feel great knowing they can make a difference one student at a time.”

— AMS


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