In June 2018, Wellington College International Shanghai started a project to mark its involvement with SolarBuddy. Their ambition was to send 350 solar-powered lights to the floating village of Prek Toal in Cambodia.
SolarBuddy is an Australia-based charity dedicated to providing some of the most impoverished and disaster-struck communities in the world with a clean, safe and renewable source of light. To achieve this, they designed a straightforward, portable, waterproof and durable light that houses a 0.6 watt solar panel. It recharges with eight hours of sunlight exposure and it can provide 10-16 hours of light. This can make an immense difference to those who have limited access to electricity by presenting a safe and reliable source of light for their work, play and studies.
I am incredibly proud to say that thanks to the dedicated efforts of our pupils, Wellington's involvement with SolarBuddy is already changing lives for the better. After raising funds to pay for the 350 SolarBuddy lights, pupils in Years 3-5 then built the lights before shipping them to Prek Toal village. After the lights arrived in November, the reaction from the community was amazing. They replied with photos of putting the lights to great use, along with a thank you from the village chiefs, teachers, parents and children.
While this initial delivery has been extremely positive, what's really exciting is the expansion of Wellington's involvement from next term. Year 6 pupils will make a presentation to their peers on the function and importance of the lights, as well as the project's overall impact to date. We want pupils to drive this project, rather than teachers imposing it on them. By thinking deeply about the light's purpose and future impact, and independently developing and carrying out fundraising ideas, pupils become invested in the project and its eventual outcome.
Pupils become invested in the project and its eventual outcome.
More than a charitable activity, SolarBuddy is an ongoing opportunity for Wellington pupils to develop character and extend their knowledge and awareness of the world. We want them to become global citizens who embrace empathy, inclusivity, awareness of privilege and the disparity of wealth. And, above all, we want them to demonstrate a willingness to make a positive impact on the world we all share.
[Images via Wellington College International Shanghai]
Tia Luker is the IPC Coordinator and a Year 5 class teacher at Wellington College International Shanghai. Luker has over 10 years of teaching experience across a variety of subject areas and age groups. These opportunities brought her to China and eventually Wellington College, where she has developed a curriculum for the school-based charity SolarBuddy, now a nationwide integrated education program in Australia.