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The Need for Light

by Ani Arzoomanian, Tuckahoe Elementary School

As a fourth grade teacher at Tuckahoe Elementary School, I was first made aware of Arlington Academy of Hope by way of our mutual affiliation with Matuwa Primary School in Uganda. After learning more about AAH’s righteous intentions – their goal to improve the quality of life in rural Uganda and to transform poor villages into self-sustaining communities – I was compelled to become more actively involved in their cause. Their focus on schooling, healthcare, local development, and community outreach perfectly align with my own core values of education and empowerment. This charity’s goals quickly became my own. So began my partnership with AAH.

After visiting Matuwa and other schools with which AAH is partnered, I was deeply moved by the culture of a people who present the world with great hope despite their many struggles. I was certain that if I aimed high, I could make a difference. I searched for items that would be beneficial to the students pursuing their education with us at Matuwa Primary. One pressing need quickly stood out in my mind: the need for light. Despite how frequently it is taken for granted in more developed nations, light is often denied to these students as a result of the lack of accessibility to electricity in most villages. The rainy season brings overcast skies and darker days, and standard electricity is not available in many of the districts our sister schools are housed. This limits working hours both inside and outside the classroom. We were, however, able to install solar-powered electricity at Matuwa Primary School in 2017 and the positive impact was immediate and constructive. A seemingly trivial thing, light, had completely transformed a school. How could I replicate this success off school grounds?

I set out to find a light source that would be appropriate for use in sub-Saharan, agrarian Africa. I reached out to Bigfoot Outdoors, an American company specializing in reliable adventure and survival products. After speaking with a representative, delving into all the details and reasons AAH is a worthy charity, I secured a generous donation of 500 flashlights to send to our students at Matuwa Primary. The waterproof flashlights from Bigfoot Outdoors run on solar power and hand-crank capabilities, making them perfect for use in Bupoto.

Through this incredible donation of light to a community lacking electricity, we are continuing down a wonderful path of progress. Students can now read, study, and complete work without relying solely on the sun’s hours. These flashlights help eliminate the need for kerosene lamps, whose fumes are dangerous and costly. These portable light sources will make everyday tasks easier for the families who received one. It is a simple yet effective way to improve the living conditions of 500 families. I could not be more grateful for Bigfoot Outdoors’ generosity.

Want to get involved? Together we can bring positive change and a hope in the lives of these students. Please take the next step and learn more about what you can do to further support our efforts in Uganda at AAHUganda.org.

Special thanks to our partners at Big Foot Outdoors Products. Visit them at https://bigfootoutdoorusa.com/

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