SolarBuddy can be a shining light

Many young people go through their schooling without learning how to actively help people less fortunate than themselves, and don’t get to experience the joy this generosity would bring to them. However, students at many schools across Queensland are now getting that opportunity through the Buddy2Buddy program.

The Buddy2Buddy program was developed to help kids who are living in energy poverty. Over 1.5 billion people are living without access to electricity. This means that people in developing areas such as Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa have no alternative but to use kerosene lamps for light through the evening. This is a dangerous source of light, and causes over a million deaths a year, most of these being women and children, as they cook and do domestic chores.

The Buddy2Buddy program gives students a solar light to assemble themselves, which would then be sent to help a child in a country where energy poverty is prevalent, along with a personal letter.

As each light costs $20, students, P&C’s or other organisations fundraise the money to purchase the materials to build the SolarBuddy lights. Once these funds have been raised, the portable SolarBuddy light parts are then sent to schools for children to assemble themselves under supervision, while learning about the value of renewable energy at the same time. Through this fantastic initiative, the young people are able to experience the joy and fulfilment of helping someone less fortunate than themselves.

The program contributes $2 back for every light sold, $1 of which goes to the chappy running the program in their school.

The program can be run in a range of different ways: each school can have a special Buddy2Buddy class in which students are involved in learning about how they can make a great difference in the lives of children less fortunate; or they can assemble the light in a science or social studies class, learning about energy poverty.

The program has been very successful in the pilot schools, with teachers saying that the students had fun doing the project, and were interested in learning about energy poverty and sustainable forms of energy production. The students participating were also surprised when they learnt that people their age didn’t have phones, or TV’s, or fridges, and use kerosene to light lamps. This shock was compounded when they learnt how dangerous this kerosene use can be.

“I just wanted to say thank you for giving [our school] the opportunity to participate in the SolarBuddy project.

Our students were so thrilled to see the children in Papua New Guinea receiving the lights they had assembled…  It has created a real buzz in our school community and we are all looking forward to the stage two roll out.” – A Deputy Principal from a participating SolarBuddy state school.

If you are interested in learning more about this program, please go to, or contact your district’s Field Development Manager.