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Let it Shine

The following excerpt comes from the Huffington Post and was originally published on February 6, 2012.

Some days, it's just too hot to function. Children lie down wherever cool, shaded surface is available. Conversations often begin with Kutenta, kutenta (it's really hot). Beads of sweat drip down temples, only to be wiped away for the next one to form. Women carry umbrellas to shield themselves and the babies on their backs from the unforgiving rays. The midday sun feels ruthless, depleting peoples' energy. But for some, it is providing just that.

When I arrived in Mtakataka, Malawi to begin my Peace Corps service at a rural health center, I was surprised to find that some of the center was already equipped with solar panels, lights, and charger, including my own housing. Coming from the U.S., where alternative forms of energy are still atypical, it's hard, at first, to believe that in rural Malawi, where the majority of people live without electricity or running water, most people know about and want access to solar electricity.

The health center where I live delivers 60 babies a month on average, almost half of which are done in the dead of night. Before solar was installed in 2009 in the delivery room, midwife Martha Soko had to deliver babies by kerosene lamp. It was very difficult in those circumstances, she remembers, shaking her head disapprovingly. Having lights now gives us much more confidence that deliveries are done in a safe environment.

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