Troy Smith from Global Giving visits TanzSolar

July 7, 2010

Musoma is essentially the Mayberry of Tanzania.

After a fifteen-hour bus ride from Arusha, and unexpected shortcuts through two game parks (which cost the token American a cool fifty dollars at each entrance), I arrived in the quaint Andy Griffith-style fishing town. With a simple, yet bustling main street, busy markets, and of course Lake Victoria, I have to say Musoma was by far my favorite city in Tanzania. And like almost every place I visited in this great nation, I found some amazing people doing some truly amazing work.

Marianne Walpert is an ultra-smiley, cool and collected mother of two from California. Just spend a few minutes with her and it's easy to realize; this woman is nice — I mean super nice. She is also a solar power fanatic and a philanthropist in every sense of the word. Combine a love of others and twenty-five years of experience in the solar industry and what do you get?

One impressive NGO.

TanzSolar is Marianne Walpert's brainchild. Along with her two sons and a small, dedicated staff, the NGO has worked to distribute small solar lights throughout nearby rural areas.

The simple solar panels can power a surprisingly bright light for up to 12 hours, replacing a family's need for kerosene lanterns. Kerosene lanterns are the lighting source of choice in many villages, but often the evil outweighs the good.

Thatched homes are destroyed by the often-finicky light sources, and a clear majority of an impoverished family's income goes not towards food, but kerosene.

House fires and injury due to indoor air pollution can be surprisingly common, and can absolutely ruin the health and well being of local families. Intense kerosene use can literally poison a family, as the fumes can be incredibly toxic.

I often remember my mom scolding me at home, giving me a hard time about studying by this one dim lamp in our living room.

"You know that's terrible for your eyes Troy!" she'd say, turning on the light attached to the overhead fan.

While I do not doubt that weak light is bad for the ojos, the fact remains that I could study, which is less than I can say for some rural Tanzanians.

With lack of access to proper education already being a major factor in Sub-Saharan Africa, the fact remains that countless families simply cannot afford proper levels of kerosene.

No kerosene equals no studying, robbing children of an education that so often falls by the wayside.

Paying month after month for fuel can become a huge hardship for local Tanzanians, and can surely push a family deeper into the hole of poverty that often looms.

With Marianne Walpert's help, these Tanzanian families can provide their children with a better education, and provides themselves with a more financially stable, healthy lifestyle.

Marianne's work is amazing, and I have no doubt she is making an unbelievable difference in the Musoma area.

But she needs your help. People are often in need of the most basic things, and now is your opportunity to give a gift…

The gift of light.


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