Notes from the Field: An Update from buildOn’s Adult Literacy Program

  • 3 min read
buildOn is a nonprofit organization and dedicated movement that strives to break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy through outreach and education. They empower students both by mobilizing under-served students in the United States to improve their communities and by increasing access to education by building schools in developing countries.

During the 2018 holiday season, we partnered with buildOn to bring light to women around the world so that they could improve their circumstances through literacy. According to Deputy Country Director Robert Cikombe, since then nearly 1,000 lanterns have been distributed to Adult Literacy Program participants across 11 different villages in Malawi, providing the necessary light for studying late into the evening. In this latest update, two recipients of LuminAID lanterns describe how their lanterns have helped them pursue their education.

Woman reading in front of classroom in Malawi because of the support from buildOn.
Vainness Phiri lost her parents at a young age and therefore never had the opportunity to go to school. She is now attending an Adult Literacy Program in Chikoko, Malawi and studies at night by the light of her LuminAID solar lantern with the help of her niece Catherine.

“Thanks to the solar lamps I received I have been able to study at night which has helped me read more syllables. Catherine is also doing well in school because she uses the lamps to study at night.”

Vainness says she works hard in class because literacy would allow her to avoid exploitation when selling her produce, read the Bible at church, and send and receive text messages.

3 women holding their LuminAID lanterns in the classroom.

Agnes Semu and her husband are small-scale farmers that grow corn, soya beans, and ground nuts to feed themselves and financially support their family. Agnes did not have the opportunity to go to school because her parents divorced and it was hard for her mother to afford school for 5 children. Instead, Agnes and her sister worked as farmhands to support their brothers’ educations and were denied the opportunity to go to school. Today, Agnes is a participant in an Adult Literacy class at Kalanga Primary School. She says, “I have decided to enroll so that I can use this opportunity to sharpen my reading and writing skills. I would like to learn simple English as well.”

Now that they can study at night, Agnes’s reading skills and her children’s performance in class have greatly improved.

“Previously I was unable to provide them paraffin lamps because paraffin is too expensive for me to afford. Solar lamps are cheaper to manage since they do not require paraffin. I am very grateful to buildOn for addressing some of my challenges in managing the education of my children.”

LuminAID has been a proud partner of buildOn since 2018, where we have sent over 1,000 solar lights to communities in Burkina Faso, Haiti, Nepal, Nicaragua, Malawi, Mali, and Senegal. Read more about our 2018 partnership here, and a 2019 update here.

Learn more about our Give Light, Get Light program.

Woman with baby holding lantern.
Give Light power lantern.

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About LuminAID's Give Light, Get Light Program

Through LuminAID's Give Light, Get Light Program and nonprofit partnerships, we work with nonprofits operating in over 100 countries. You can support more projects like this by Giving Light to sponsor a future distribution.


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