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Hana Kitamura

IVHQ Volunteer of the Year Finalist 2014 - Hana Kitamura
IVHQ Volunteer of the Year Finalist 2014 - Hana Kitamura
813 votes
Hana Kitamura
Occupation: School Teacher
Hometown: Sydney, Australia

Video - Upendo Face Orphanage

Why should you be the IVHQ volunteer of the year?

Since coming to Tanzania, I have managed projects aimed at creating a better standard of living and sustainable future for Upendo Face Orphanage. These projects include the building of a new orphanage building, assisting with the sponsorship of five orphans, creating an affiliation with a hospital, testing all the children for HIV, and creating a connection with a school in Australia for potential, annual community service projects.

In order to contribute to the new sustainable orphanage, I have raised funds up to $2500US from a blog that I created when I first arrived in Tanzania. With generous funding from friends and family, I have helped the orphanage relocate to a bigger block of land, build a toilet block and install quality roofing. I have managed the transition of Upendo Face from a day-school to a fully functional live-in orphanage. I have helped construct a new dormitory and funded bedding which will allow eight of our most ‘at risk’, underprivileged orphans to permanently live at the orphanage.

During my placement, I’ve also helped to implement a basic health program for Upendo Face’s children. One of my first actions was to organise and fund the HIV testing of all 46 children. Further, I am negotiating a partnership between a local private hospital and the orphanage which will allow our children to receive treatment free of charge. My responsibilities to date have also included ad hoc treatment of orphans with diseases including burns, parasites and injuries. Further, I have begun raising awareness at home in Australia of the challenges we face by organising a community service program with my old high school. The program (funded by the school), would allow students to live in and experience Upendo Face first hand.

Being awarded IVHQ Volunteer of the Year would provide me with the opportunity to develop Upendo Face further. I see so many more opportunities to improve the quality to life of our children. If I was given this privilege, as I am only halfway through my placement, I could fund additional development projects to sustain the great work we are doing.

How will you use the award money for your project?

Currently, the orphanage and the surrounding community do not have a source of electricity, so we operate by candle light in the evenings. I am in contact with an NGO called TAHUDE’s Foundation who has recently partnered with E3Empower to provide affordable, renewable energy to schools and marginalized groups such as orphanages in East Africa. The award funds would allow me to provide basic, sustainable electricity to the orphanage and surrounding community.

A simple utility like electricity will allow our most at-risk children to study safely at the orphanage after school hours, allow teachers to prepare lessons and increase the quality of living for the surrounding community. Safer and more flexible study times mean better exam results and a better future for our pupils. Further, solar-fuelled electricity provides the basis for a more developed economy for surrounding villages and reduces the carbon footprint of this community by reducing reliance on wood burning and oil lamps.

It costs TAHUDE Foundation USD$3,000 to provide solar power to a school in Tanzania. With USD$5,000 received from IVHQ we could extend the solar energy to the surrounding community!

The rest of the IVHQ contribution would go towards making the building structurally sound enough to mount the solar power equipment.

Teaching at Upendo Face Orphanage in Tanzania

How will the award money help to build skills and self-sufficiency the local community of the project?

“Having light after sunset means that people can continue working to produce handicrafts or read books and study thus benefiting the economy and education of a family. But light can even make the difference between life and death when a woman has to give birth in the dark” Says Voahirana Randriambola, Footprint Coordinator at WWF Madagascar who has brought solar energy to over 2500 villagers in Madagascar.

Following successful implementation, solar-powered would lighting enables the orphanage to continue functioning in the evenings, without resorting to dangerous, environmentally-unsound naked-flame light sources. The children could continue studying into the evening, or simply enjoy reading a book. Further, teachers could prepare their lessons without being dictated by the time. Rural electrification means that residents can safely gather during the hours of darkness and children can study for longer. Communities can power perimeter security and support emergency medical care, providing a safer and more vibrant community for Upendo Face.

This is further evidence by academic research (refer: Sarah Lawton) which purports that disease, pandemics and child and maternal mortality are all reduced, while gender equality is arguably supported by relieving women of fuel and water-collecting tasks. Because of these improvements, young people are encouraged to remain in rural areas, making local economies more stable. Further, if access to energy is implemented with environmentally sound technologies, we can directly reduce the carbon footprint of the community at large.

After researching solar energy in sub-saharan Africa, it is evident that implementing solar energy has a positive impact on building skills and helping the surrounding community.

How will you measure the success of using the award money at your project?

Children can study in safety at school and teachers can prepare lessons before sunrise or after sunset. More study time means better exam results and a better future for these pupils. This can be directly measured by weekly tests administered by the teachers and volunteers that attend the orphanage.

The children of Upendo Face Orphanage in Tanzania

How will you ensure the difference you make through investing the award money is sustainable in the long term?

According to many sources, solar power is considered the most promising solution to the technical problems in powering off-grid areas. Solar energy is available anywhere; is clean, is not contaminated, does not need frequent care and maintenance, and — once installed — the power supply can be used for decades.

TAHUDE Foundation puts forward that despite the benefits of solar, the biggest challenge is overcoming people’s lack of trust in an unfamiliar technology. “We do this through the schools by meeting head-teachers we educate them about the benefits of solar light. They in turn share this with students. Each solar light costs about $10. TAHUDE Foundation sells the light at a discount. We do this to encourage the market traders begin to stock solar lights. This provides a channel to buy more lights or get lights repaired or replaced and is much more sustainable approach that just providing aid. With a solar light a family no longer need to buy candles, which improves their income as well as their health and children studying for exam’s can do so in safety at home. It’s also good for us all, as less candles and kerosene being used means less carbon emissions.”

If awarded the $5000 IVHQ grant, the money would go towards purchasing the equipment needed to begin ‘bringing light’ to the community. The sense of community surrounding the orphanage is incredible, and I would encourage the members of the community to help with the installation and to try to educate them in the mechanics of the project to increase awareness and potential future maintenance.

What is your long-term vision for this project?

Without light and energy, a day at the orphanage and surrounding community is shortened.

This means that families cannot gather after dinner for talk.

This means children cannot have enough time for learning.

This means people cannot run businesses at night to provide their family.

This means more than just being uncomfortable getting around at night.

My long term vision for this project is that the children and surrounding community will be able to operate under environmentally friendly, low cost, sustainable solar power. This would mean cooking with solar energy, cleaning up under light, reading books, playing games and discussions after sunset. This would also mean saving money on kerosine which is what we currently use to cook and reducing the need to use firewood which causes continual damage to the environment.

After much research, I believe this can be achieved with the help of the TAHUDE foundation and E3Empower, as they will assist me in finding technology that is appropriate for the energy needs and environment of the people in the area that I would like to ‘Bring Light’ to. Furthermore, I believe the local people could benefit from this scheme.

IVHQ volunteer Hana Kitamura

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