Everyone dreams of growing up to be something when they are young; a doctor, a scientist, an actor or actress, maybe even a princess, but when you grow up in an underdeveloped country, town, or village, it’s hard to even imagine what life outside poverty might entail. You become uncertain whether or not you will receive an education or if you will have to help out at home or begin working at a young age. This becomes especially problematic for young women who, because of the culture they grow up in, are expected to marry young and begin a family. Unfortunately, their education is not a priority. Some may choose to believe that this is just the way the world is; always has been, always will be. But for 22-year-old Salima Visram, she couldn’t let this be a reality.
Growing up beside the Kikambala village in Kenya, Salima was aware of the poverty that surrounded her. People in the village often had no access to clean water, food, electricity, or education. As a student in International Development Studies, she took what she had witnessed growing up along with her passion to help others to create The Soular Backpack. People who reside in rural areas in countries such as Kenya, often use kerosene lamps to provide light in the dark. The issue is that these kerosene lamps give off toxins that are responsible for illnesses such as various cancers. To help relieve this problem and encourage education in rural areas, the Soular Backpack charges in the natural sunlight as the students walk to school. At night, the light that was charged can be plugged into an LED lamp and will provide 7-8 hours of light. According to the world bank, approximately, 4,000 deaths occur daily as a result of kerosene induced illnesses.
[pull_quote_center]I’m not saying that The Soular Backpack will change the world, in fact it probably won’t. But my hope is that it will touch some lives, and hopefully impact them in the best way possible.[/pull_quote_center]
When we spoke to Salima about her new social initiative, she reflected upon a what persuaded her to started The Soular Backpack campaign. She told us about a time in high school where she was stressed out about an exam and called her mother in tears. Her mother simply answered by telling her a story about three girls from the neighbouring village who got pregnant and were forced to leave school so she has no right to give up when there are millions of girls out there who wish they could go to school but can’t.
[pull_quote_center]The idea of The Soular Backpack is for every child to have a tool for their own future, that no one can take away from them.[/pull_quote_center]
She says that the cost of each backpack and the LED lamp, including shipping, duties and taxes is $20. Her goal is to get 2,000 pieces to the Kikambala village as a pilot project to show that The Soular Backpacks can create a long-term, positive effect. For more information and to learn how you can donate to this social initiative, visit the Indegogo campaign here.
[pull_quote_center]I want women to realize that if we don’t take risks, we are under applying ourselves. We shouldn’t be afraid to throw our colours into the world and have faith in the picture they will create. I also want people to realize how incredibly lucky we are, in North America to have all our basic necessities at our fingertips, without even having to think twice about them, and to think about the people who don’t have the same luxuries as we do.[/pull_quote_center]
How do you think the Soular Backpack will help ameliorate the lives of kids and teenagers in third world countries?
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