Australian Anglicans are being urged to light up the lives of poor communities around the world this Christmas by purchasing an innovative solar gift from Anglican Overseas Aid.

Bob Mitchell, chief executive of Anglican Overseas Aid, said the items in the agency’s new Gifts of Light catalogue would make a huge difference to the quality of life in some of the world’s poorest communities.

“Lack of access to electricity and reliable lighting has a huge impact on people throughout the world,” said Mr Mitchell.

“Women and girls are at greater risk of physical and sexual abuse in poorly lit areas, and many children don’t finish school because they are unable to study at night.

“In many places, people rely on kerosene lamps, which are dangerous and polluting, and place great strain on a family’s limited finances. Every year these lamps burn 2.5 million people and cause hundreds of thousands of related deaths. Inhaling their fumes is also akin to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

“The solar lights available in the Gifts of Light catalogue are simple, practical and affordable. Every light purchased by an Australian on behalf of a friend or family member will help to make a community smarter, healthier and safer,” said Mr Mitchell.

“They also help the environment by reducing emissions from unsafe kerosene.”

Mr Mitchell said lights could be purchased for communities in Africa and the Pacific.

Anglican Overseas Aid’s solar lights programs also help create jobs and income – young people are given business training and “loaned” a small number of lights, which they then sell at a small profit. After they have repaid the original loan, they can purchase or borrow more lights and repeat the process. Gifts available for purchase include:

• Adding a solar light to an African birth attendant’s medical kit to help make childbirth in remote areas safer - $25.
• A lamp for a student in Tanzania so they can study at night - $30.
• A solar light for a woman to take home when she is ready to leave a women’s refuge in the Solomon Islands - $40.
• Training for a young person in Africa or the Pacific to sell solar lights in their community - $150.

To find out more: go to www.anglicanoverseasaid.org.au/gifts, or call Anglican Overseas Aid on 1800-249-880 to request a catalogue.

Anglican Overseas Aid is a signatory to the ACFID Code of Conduct, and a member of the global ACT Alliance.

For more information or to speak to chief executive Bob Mitchell, contact:

David Cook
Media Officer
M: 0448 816 900
E: dcook@anglicanoverseasaid.org.au

Editor’s notes – Solar lights in the Solomon Islands
In the Solomons, 200 men and women have been trained in entrepreneurial skills and financial literacy and provided with capital loans of 1.5W solar lights that they then resell within their communities.

The lights save people money as they no longer have to pay for kerosene to fuel their old-fashioned burners, and because the lamps also charge mobile phones, owners can earn a small income providing a phone-charging service.

Along with assisting study, the lights are also being used to work in the fields or fishing at night.

Last year, 1906 lamps were loaned to enterprising locals to sell, 884 have so far been repaid.

Technical training and tools have also been provided to village electricians so that lamps can be maintained and repaired.

Anglican Overseas Aid’s partner in the Solomon Islands is the Anglican Church of Melanesia Board of Mission, assisted by AOA Pacific and Solar Program Manager Kate Higgins.

Anglican Overseas Aid Anglican Overseas Aid (formerly Anglicord) has been working for a just, peaceful and sustainable world free of poverty for 25 years, with programs in Africa, South-East Asia, the Middle-East and the Pacific. Go to: www.anglicanoverseasaid.org.au
 

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